When we hear or read about the “first computer” a lot of names may come to our minds, like Charles Babbage, John Vincent Atanasoff, Clifford Berry and Alan Turin, but not a lot of people recognizes the name Konrad Zuse, a German civil engineer, pioneering computer scientist, inventor and businessman who invented the world’s first programmable computer; the functional program-controlled Turing-complete Z3 in May 1941.

Zuse is also recognized as the inventor of the first process control computer, the S2 created in 1941 and founded one of the earliest computer businesses producing the Z4 considered the first commercial computer ever built.

He began his career at Ford Motor Company designing advertisements, he started work as a design engineer at the Henschel aircraft factory in Schönefeld near Berlin which required a lot of calculations to be performed by hand and led him to dream about a machine that could do it for him. He experimented in the construction of computers in his parents’ flat in 1935, and in 1936 he came with the Z1, his first attempt, a mechanical calculator with limited programmability.

The Z3 was completed in Berlin in 1941, it was partially funded by the German government and built with 2,600 relays, implementing a 22-bit word length that operated at a clock frequency of about 5–10 Hz [1]. The program code was stored on punched film. It was not considered vital, so it was never put into everyday operation by the German government.

By Jose Lopez

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