Konrad Zuse

German computer scientist and engineer (1910 - 1995)

Konrad Zuse (June 22, 1910December 18, 1995) was a German engineer and computer pioneer, noted for implementing the world's first programmable Turing-complete computer, the Z3, in 1941.

Konrad Zuse in 1992


  • The rattling of the relays of the Z4 was the only interesting thing to be experienced in Zurich's night life!
    • Attributed to Zuse in: Ra L Rojas, Ulf Hashagen (2002) The First Computers: History and Architectures. p. 270
  • Die Gefahr, dass der Computer so wird wie der Mensch, ist nicht so groß wie die Gefahr, dass der Mensch so wird wie der Computer.
    • Translation: The danger of computers becoming like humans is not as great as the danger of humans becoming like computers.
    • Attributed in: Hersfelder Zeitung. Nr. 212, 12. September 2005.
  • Der Glaube an eine bestimmte Idee gibt dem Forscher den Rückhalt für seine Arbeit. Ohne diesen Glauben wäre er verloren in einem Meer von Zweifeln und halbgültigen Beweisen.
    • Translation: The belief in a certain idea gives to the researcher the support for his work. Without this belief he would be lost in a sea of doubts and insufficiently verified proofs.
    • Attributed in Konrad Zuse on "Die Erfindergalerie", dpma.de, 2008
  • Only too often the inventor is the idealist who, like Mephisto, tries to improve the world, only to be crushed by harsh realities. If he wants to carry through his ideas, he is forced to do business with the wielders of power, whose sense of reality is sharper and more developed.
    • Zuse, Konrad (1993). The Computer - My Life (in English) (1ed). Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag. p. X. Translated by Patricia McKenna and J. Andrew Ross. Full English text at the Internet Archive.

Quotes about Zuse

  • Undecided about whether to pursue art or engineering, he pursued engineering, but with a continued interest in design—for his senior school project, he had designed a city of the future (à la Fritz Lang's Metropolis) based on a hexagonal grid. Like Alan Turing, Zuse was educated in a system that focused on a child's emotional and philosophical life as well as his intellectual life, and at the end of school, like Turing, Zuse found himself to be something of an outsider—to the disappointment of his very conventional parents, he no longer believed in God or religion.
    • Jane Smiley: The Man Who Invented the Computer
  • After the war Zuse constructed the Z4 computer, which became the world’s first commercially used computer. Zuse is also credited with writing the first programming language for his computers: Plankalkül, meaning calculus for programs. As an engineer by trade, Zuse was mainly focused on building a working machine that could perform calculations. He was not at all concerned with the theory of computation, which at that time was explored by renowned mathematicians in the academic world like Schönfinkel, Church, Post, Kleene, and Turing. Because of this, Zuse was not an established name in the academic community as a theoretical computer scientist. It is known however, that Turing and Zuse were familiar with each other’s work (Zenil, 2012). Although Zuse has always been more characterized as an engineer than a theorist. This is perhaps one of the reasons why his main work on computation in physics has been relatively unnoticed in the academic community for so long.
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