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Mar 25, 2011

Konrad Zuse - the World's First Computers in 1930s

Konrad Zuse

"In seeking to automate burdensome engineering calculations, the then 26 years old engineer Konrad Zuse developed a fully programmable mechanical calculating machine: the Z1, the world’s first computer. The machine operated with binary semilogarithmic floating-point numbers - something completely new - and the programs were developed using Boolean algebra. The original Z1 was destroyed in a bombing raid over Berlin. In 1989, Konrad Zuse reconstructed the Z1 for the German Museum of Technology."

"Today considered the Z1 is the first freely programmable computer of the world using Boolean logic and binary floating point numbers. It was completed in 1938 and financed completely from private funds."

"Several years before the Colossus in the U.K. and the ENIAC in the U.S., the Z3, built by Konrad Zuse in 1941, was crunching numbers in Germany. In a short article, the Register says the Z3 was the first programmable computer. Based on a binary floating-point number and switching system, it had all the attributes of today's computers, such as a control block, a memory, and a calculator. But it didn't have the ability to store the program in the memory together with the data because the memory was too small. It had a 64-word memory of 22 bits each and was able to handle four additions per second and to do a multiplication in about five seconds. And it was pretty big: five meters long, two meters high, and 80 centimeters wide. It was destroyed during WWII, and later rebuilt in 1960/1961."

"Zuse's machine saw use during the war, but not as a codebreaker. Instead it was used to perform statistical analysis of the stresses on aircraft wings, and in particular, a problem known as wing-flutter. This vibration of an aircraft's wing can cause a critical instability during flight. The calculations needed to overcome this design issue were incredibly complex, and it was this problem that the Z3 solved."

See also:

1914 Triodes as Logic Gates (see also) [Eric Tigerstedt] (video1 2)
1932 Drum Memory [Gustav Tauschek] (video)
1936 Computer Ideas: Turing, Zuse, Von Neumann, Church, etc.
1938 Zuse Z1 (video)
1938 Bomba / Bombe (video) [Enigma code breaker]
1941 Zuse Z3 (video)
1942 Atanasoff–Berry Computer (video)
1944 Colossus (video)
1946 ENIAC (video)
1948 Manchester Small-Scale Experimental Machine (Baby) (video)
1949 EDSAC Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator (video)
1951 UNIVAC (video)
1951 Magnetic Core Memory (video)
1956 IBM 705 [tubes] (video)
1958 LGP 30 [tubes] (video)
1961 IBM 7030 [transistors] (video)
1961 Zuse 23 [transistors] (video)
1963 Timesharing (multiprocessing, multitasking) (video)
1964 IBM 360 (video)
1970 PDP 11 (video)
1974 Intel 8080 (video)
1977 Tandy TRS-80 (video)
1983 IBM PC XT (video)
1995 Dell LatitudeMS Windows 95,  InternetMosaic Browser (video)
2007 Google 1 Million Servers, YouTube, Google Maps/Earth (video)
2011 TOP500 Supercomputers (video)

Here is a video of Zuse as a person:

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