Konrad Zuse was a German civil engineer, inventor and computer pioneer.
His greatest achievement was the world’s first functional program-controlled Turing-complete computer, the Zuse Z3, which became operational in Berlin on May 12, 1941.
There is a replica of the Z3, as well as the original Z4, in the Deutsches Museum in Munich.
Zuse was also noted for the S2 computing machine, considered the first process-controlled computer.
Much of his early work was personally financed, but after 1939 he was given resources by the Nazi German government.
He founded one of the earliest computer businesses late in 1941, producing the Z4, which became the world’s first commercial computer.
From 1943 to 1945, Zuse designed the first high-level programming language, Plankalkül.
Due to World War II, Zuse’s work went largely unnoticed in the United Kingdom and the United States.
Possibly his first documented influence on a US company was IBM’s option on his patents in 1946.
Then in 1969, Zuse suggested the concept of a computation-based universe in his book Rechnender Raum.
The Deutsches Technikmuseum in Berlin has an exhibition devoted to Zuse, displaying twelve of his machines, including a replica of the Z1 and several of Zuse’s paintings.
While Konrad Zuse never became a member of the Nazi Party, he is not known to have expressed any doubts or qualms about working for the Nazi war effort.
Much later, he suggested that in modern times, the best scientists and engineers usually have to choose between either doing their work for more or less questionable business and military interests in a Faustian bargain, or not pursuing their line of work at all.
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