When it comes to computing pioneers, one first tends to think of the Englishman Charles Babbage, the brilliant mathematician who originated the concept for the programable computer, or to Americans such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, etc.. One also tends to think of Silicon Valley and companies like IBM, HP, Microsoft, Apple or even Atari, as well as others.
However, one of the first, and, one of the greatest of all computer pioneers happened to be Germany's Konrad Zuse. Herr Zuse may not exactly be a household name, but this Berlin born genius went on to create the very first binary computer, and this all the way back in 1936, as you can see in the photo above, (click to enlarge) Young Germany.com.
The power of Herr Zuse's first computer was really more akin to that of a simple, and one no where near as being as powerful as what you can pick up now-a-days at your local Wal-Mart for a few measly dollars. Later, in 1939, Konrad Zuse went on to complete the Z2 data computer, the world's very first fully functional electro-mechanical computer, and then, on May 12, 1941, he finally completed the Z3, and then eventually the Z4. The Z3 broke new ground when it became the very first truly functional, Turing-complete computer.
The Deutsches Technikmuseum, in Berlin, has a great reproduction of Herr Zuse's amazing Z1 on display, (seen below via Wikipedia), so, if you ever happen to be in this great German city, be sure to check it out. Unfortunately, the original was destroyed during World War II, which is a real pity, since I would have dearly loved to have seen it.
Even though Herr Zuse was an extremely humble man, and especially when it came to his "Z" series of computers, it was he and his incredible machines that helped to pave the way for all of the modern computing marvels that we see in use and take for granted today. Clearly, without his pioneering work we probably wouldn't be enjoying any of the various and numerous Windows PC's out there, or even the sleek, elegant and sexy Macintosh itself.
When you look at Konrad Zuse's Z1, and consider its incredible size and complexity, it's rather amazing to think that this amazing man and his amazing machine would eventually help lead the way to all of the many amazingly slim, powerful and sexy machines that we see today, and machines, such as the MacBook Air, that I only wish Mr. Zuse could have lived to see. He died in 1995, so he got to see at least some of them.
So, in conclusion, I just want to take time out to thank Herr Zuse, the German computer genius, and all the other pioneers, for all his and their tireless dedication and hard work that helped to make computing what it is today, an everyday and indispensable part of our lives. Also, dankt Herrn Zuse; Dank fur alles (So, Mr. Zuse, thanks for everything)!
And that's my 2 cents 4 this Monday, November 01, 2010