Konrad Zuse (1910 – 1995)

Konrad Zuse a German engineer and entrepreneur invented the world’s first functional program-controlled Turing-complete computer, the Z3.

It became operational in May 1941. As modern machines it used a binary system separation of storage and control.

“Computers will never take the place of books. You can’t stand on a floppy disk to reach a high shelf.” — Konrad Zuse

Zuse had no background in electrical engineering. For his job as civil engineer he had to perform endless mathematical calculations on paper. He envisoned a machine which allowed him to automate arithmetic. “I was too lazy to calculate”, Zuse later said, “and so I invented the computer”.

In 1943 Zuse he designed Plankalkuel, the world’s first higher-level programming language, containing many standard features of today’s programming languages. FORTRAN came almost a decade later. Zuse also used Plankalkuel to design world’s first chess program.

Fun facts:

  • In 1967 Zuse was the first to suggest that the universe itself is running on a grid of computers. He published the first book about digital physics in 1969, “Rechnender Raum” (Computing Space).

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