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Konrad Zuse and the beginning of the computer age

Who invented the first computer? To this question you may get answers ranging from, "I don't know" to "Charles Babbage", "Alan Turing" or even "Bill Gates". Only a few know the real answer: Konrad Zuse.

Born on June 22, 1910 in Berlin, Zuse had a strong interest in mechanical devices and graphic art beginning in his youth. After completing his studies as a construction engineer at the technical university in Berlin Charlottenburg, he began building the worlds first computer (the Z1) in the living room of his parent's apartment in the Kreuzberg neighborhood of Berlin. This completely mechanical binary computer had a logical architecture equivalent to today's computers. Since it was prone to mechanical failures, Zuse used electrical relays in building the Z3 in 1941 - the worlds first fully functional computer.

In 1945 he developed "Plankalkül", the world's first higher-level programming language. In 1949 he formed the Zuse KG, the first computer firm in Germany. Together with computers, his firm also built the first plotter (the Z64).

The question, "How does the universe calculate?" prompted Zuse to write his book "Der Rechnende Raum" (The Calculating Universe), published in 1967. In his free time he oversaw the reconstruction of the Z1 and Z3 computers(which had been destroyed during the war), designed a wind-tower to make optimal use of wind energy and dedicated himself to his painting.

To mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of this computer pioneer, there will be exhibitions, lectures and workshops to remember his life and work and to bring attention to the current importance of his invention to the digital age.