The Origins of The Computer.

Speakers: Horst Zuse
Date: 18th November 2010
Time: 14.30 Room open in advance (from 14.00) – meet up with society members.

Fellows Library of the Science Museum, Exhibition Road, London, SW7 2DD


About the seminar

This talk is about one of the earliest computer developments, which was done by Konrad Zuse in Germany.

Konrad Zuse was one of the pioneers in the development of computers, and is almost unanimously accepted as the inventor and designer of the first working, freely programmable machine using Boolean logic and with binary floating point numbers. This machine - called the Z3 - was built in his own small workshop in Berlin-Kreuzberg, and was completed in May 1941.

The Z3 computer used relays, and a replica of the Z3 was built in 1961, and is exhibited in the Deutches Museum in Munich. Also a functional restoration has been done using more recent components.

The talk will also present the historical setting, including the achievements of Charles Babbage (1823), the development of the secret COLOSSUS-Project (UK, 1943), Howard Aiken´s Mark I (USA), and the ENIAC (USA).

A major part of the talk will cover Konrad Zuse´s later contributions to the development of the computer as we know today. It is not well known, that Konrad Zuse founded in 1949 a computer company that produced over 400 computers till 1969.

The talk will be illustrated with many pictures and videos.

About the speaker

Horst Zuse is Professor of Computer Science at the Technical University of Berlin and the son of the noted computer scientist Konrad Zuse. He first studied electrical engineering. Later on he completed his PhD on software metrics. He has extensively researched his father´s work on early computers.


There is much on the web on the Zuse computers - a good starting point is the Zuse homepage which has authoritative information about Konrad Zuse, and details of each of the computers he designed.

A previous CCS talk on restoring early computers described the functional reconstruction of the Zuse Z3
There is also a Wikipedia entry with general historical information and further references.


Click to see a podcast of this event.