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Unpublished Papers of the Inventor of the Computer to Be Digitized

Deutsches Museum and Freie Universität Launch Project in Honor of Centennial Birthday of Computer Pioneer Konrad Zuse

№ 347/2009 from Dec 01, 2009

Scientists at the Deutsches Museum in Munich and Freie Universität Berlin have begun to organize and digitize the unpublished papers of the inventor of the computer, Konrad Zuse (1910–1995). The project will run for three years and is being funded with around 400,000 euros from the German Research Foundation (DFG) as part of its cultural heritage program.

The documents, including not yet archived diary records written in shorthand by Zuse as well as the circuits of his early computing machines, are to be digitized and cataloged on behalf of the Deutsches Museum. At Freie Universität these documents will be sifted through and then analyzed and systematized. The results, including simulations of Zuse's machines that are understandable for laypersons, will be made accessible to everyone through the Internet.

The scientists involved in the project hope to gain new insights into the personality of Zuse and on the functioning of his calculating machines.

Dr. Wilhelm Füßl, director of the archive of the Deutsches Museum in Munich, explained the problems of today's Zuse research as it cannot make use of important parts of the estate because of the shorthand. The DFG research project will open up new perspectives.

Professor Raúl Rojas from the Institute of Computer Science, Freie Universität Berlin, pointed out at the presentation in Berlin that there is no online digitized version of the papers of any of the other early pioneers of the computer. There is no Internet archive featuring the ENIAC, the Mark I (U.S.A.), or the Colossus (U.K.).

Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Peter Deuflhard, President of the Zuse Institute Berlin (ZIB), who spent much time in discussions with Konrad Zuse during the final years of Zuse's life, stated that he was glad that the 100-year anniversary will be taken as an opportunity to finally work through the unpublished papers of the German computer pioneer – and of course digitally, as appropriate for this outstanding man. According to Deuflhard, "The genius of Konrad Zuse led not only the U.S. and England, but also Germany, to the future of the Information Age."

Prof. Dr. Stefan Jähnichen, President of the Gesellschaft für Informatik e. V., emphasized, "Konrad Zuse built the first computer in Berlin. Therefore, it is a wonderful opportunity for the city that his unpublished work will be cataloged here in Berlin, and that scientists in Berlin will have an important role in collaborating with the Deutsches Museum." Furthermore, for young people, this project is a great motivation to opt for a degree in computer science.

Further Information

For additional information and interview requests, please contact:

Prof. Dr. Raúl Rojas, Institute of Computer Science, Freie Universität Berlin
Tel.: +49 (0)30 / 838-75130, Email: rojas@inf.fu-berlin.de

Dr. Wilhelm Füßl, Director, Archive of the Deutsches Museum
Tel.: +49 (0)89 / 2179-220, Email: archiv@deutsches-museum.de