Computer History: World's oldest computer rises again

From: Sabine Atkins (
Date: Thu May 10 2001 - 18:34:56 MDT

FutureFrame Newsletter:

World's oldest computer rises again

Researchers in Berlin, Germany have built a reproduction of the first
freely programmable computer, originally constructed by engineer Konrad Zuse
in the year 1941. The replica will be presented the day after tomorrow, on the
60th anniversary of the "Z3." In May 1941, completely unbeknownst to the
general public, Konrad Zuse had fulfilled his dream of an automatic computing
machine and rung in the Age of Computers.

The inventor had built the Z3 using 2,500 phone relays in his apartment
in Berlin. The machine was capable of carrying out any combination of basic
arithmetical operations, and had memory for 64 numbers. The original was
destroyed in 1943, during the war.

The researchers say they built the replica of the Z3 using smaller
relays. They constructed the machine's architecture such that the flow of data is
shown by tiny light-emitting diodes. Thus, the replica is both historically
accurate while also being suitable for bringing the history of machines
to life for schoolchildren and students. The model has been scaled down so
that it can be shown at various exhibits and in museums in future. A 1:1
reconstruction was built in the 1960s by Konrad Zuse himself, and is
housed in Munich's Deutsches Museum.

Source: Technische Universitšt Berlin, May 10, 01
Infos on Konrad Zuse at and

Sabine Atkins
Singularity Institute for 
Artificial Intelligence

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