On This Day — First Modern Computer Delivered to German Aerospace Institute (May 12 1941)

“The danger of computers becoming like humans is not as great as the danger of humans becoming like computers.”

Konrad Zuse (June 22, 1910 – December 18, 1995) — Inventor of the world’s first programmable Turing-complete computer

Zuse Z3 replica on display at Deutsches Museum in Munich

The Z3 was the world’s first working programmable, fully automatic digital computer. In 1998, the Z3 was demonstrated to be, in principle, Turing-complete. The Z3 was the brainchild of Konrad Zuse, a German civil engineer, inventor and computer pioneer. Follow us on Twitter: @Intel_Today

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On May 12 1941, the Z3 computer was presented to an audience of scientists including professors Alfred Teichmann and Curt Schmieden of the Deutsche Versuchsanstalt für Luftfahrt (“German Laboratory for Aviation”) in Berlin.

The original Z3 was destroyed on December 21 1943 during an Allied bombardment of Berlin. A fully functioning replica was built in the 1960s by Zuse’s company, Zuse KG. The replica is on permanent display at Deutsches Museum in Munich.

Konrad Zuse 1944 (Foto Deutsches Museum)

Calculating Space

In 1967, Zuse suggested that the universe itself is running on a cellular automaton. Two years later, he published the book Rechnender Raum (translated into English as Calculating Space).

This idea has recently attracted the attention of Gerardus (Gerard) ‘t Hooft, a Dutch theoretical physicist and professor at Utrecht University, the Netherlands, who shared the 1999 Nobel Prize with his thesis advisor Martinus J. G. Veltman.

For the record, I believe that this ‘Calculating Space Hypothesis’ is the most promising path towards a true understanding of physics.

I also suspect that Richard Feynman — usually ranked as the top physicist in modern history — believed in that ‘theory’, even though he never actually said so explicitly to the best of my knowledge.

Commenting on the fact that physicists often needs hours and hours of computing time to solve very simple problems, Feynman once famously asked: “How therefore do you explain that an electron knows instantaneously what he must do?”

Konrad Zuse: The Invention of the Computer

REFERENCES

Z3 — Wikipedia

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On This Day — First Modern Computer Delivered to German Aerospace Institute (May 12 1941)

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