The oldest preserved digital computer It is in Munich, in the Deutsches Museum of that German city. The 1945 device occupies an entire room and required several people to deliver results.

As you notice in the post Vice, the team named Z4 It was not used for a long time and many of its functions have been a secret, although now Researchers will be able to find out details about this machine after finding its user manuals, which were lost for years.

Until now, historians had only limited knowledge of its secrets because the manual had been lost.

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An archivist at the Federal Polytechnic School of Zurich, Evelyn Boesch, found the manual among documents that were owned by her father, René Boesh. The man worked for the Swiss Association of Aeronautical Engineering, which was in an institute of that university and is where Z4 stayed in the early 1950s.

The first page of the Z4 computer manual.By: (Photo: ACM / emanuscripta)

The mathematician Eduard Stiefel later acquired the Z4 computer for the Institute of Applied Mathematics of the Federal Polytechnic School of Zurich. The invention spent a few years at the Franco-German Research Institute in Saint-Louis before it was sent to the Deutsches Museum in 1960, where it is located today.

According to the material found, the computer, which worked on tape, was used to solve problems related to the development of the P-16 fighter. Among his calculations, he worked on the trajectory of rockets, aspects related to aircraft wings, aircraft vibrations and plummets, as explained by retired professor Herbert Bruderer in a publication of the Association of Computing Machinery .

Bruderer notes that the large-dimension device was invented by the German civil engineer Konrad Zuse under the Nazi regime and that he is probably the author of the now discovered manuals. The unique story of this computer (and its creator) tells that the Nazis wanted Zuse to take the equipment to the Mittelbau Dora concentration camp where they forced people to build rockets and bombs. The engineer refused and took the machine to a barn in a town, waiting for the war to end.

Konrad Zuse, considered one of the pioneers of computing, passed away in December 1995.By: Wolfgang Hunscher | (Photo: CC BY-SA 3.0)

The engineer waited for the end of the Second War by selling woodcuts to farmers and American troops in Bad Hindelang, a small German town.

Zuse was also the inventor of the first programmable computer, called the Z3. According to the source, after 1945 that man became the father of modern business computers and the Z4 was his flagship machine. “It was one of the only computers in continental Europe and everyone wanted it,” historians note.


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