[clug] Re: Who's famous in the 80's and 2000's?

steve jenkin sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au
Mon Jan 12 06:09:42 GMT 2009

Michael Kenneth Simpson wrote on 12/1/09 2:46 PM:
>      Konrad Zuse is credited with building the first stored-program
> computer, out of surplus post-office relays in the living room of his
> parents' flat around the beginning of ww2.  He also developed a
> programming language called plankalkul, I believe, but I don't think
> his work was known to any of the pioneers of the 40's and 50's.  It
> was also largely ignored by the nazis.  Werner von Braun supposedly
> didn't think it would be of much use in developing rockets.
>      The author of the seminal 'Structured Progamming' was Edsgar Dykstra.
>  Pascal was developed by Niklaus Wirth.  I think Algol actually
> predates the formal structured programming school, and I don't know
> any names associated with it off hand, except Algol-W, which was
> Wirth again.
> Michael Simpson


I only learned about Zuse and the Z3/Z4 in the last year or so.

The page contains this interesting sentence:
"This company built the Z4, which became the /second/ commercial
computer leased to ETH Zürich in 1950."

- This grammar is poor. [see end]
  It was the first (and only) computer at ETH.
  BINAC is claimed as the first computer *sold* and the Z4 the next.

The British claim:
"More than 50 years ago, in 1951, Leo 1, a British computer, became the
world's first business computer."

which also refers to the Wikipedia entry:

Which is partially confirmed by the list of systems on the CSIRAC page

LEO-I was an EDSAC, but was it the original or another unit?
The site is unclear.

LEO claims:
"... on 17 November 1951 rolled out the first commercial business

Not just an installed & working machine, but a running application.

In the USA, the first UNIVAC was delivered to the Census Bureau on
31-Mar-1951. 'Dedicated' on June-14... When did the Apps turn up?

The messy beginnings of Computing really did set the stage...


It was unclear to me where the comment (second commercial computer) on
the Wikipedia page comes from. Reading the Edits & history shows it was
confusing grammar. "ETH was leased the Z4, the second only sale of a
computer in the world."

ETH and the Z4:

"In 1948 the Institute for Applied Mathematics was opened, headed by
Prof. Eduard Stiefel. With the Z4 of the German engineer Konrad Zuse and
lateron with the proprietary development "Electronic Calculating Machine
of the ETH" (ERMETH), the institute offered computing power to the whole
ETH Zurich. In 1964, the ETH bought its first commercial computer, a
model 1604A from Control Data Corporation."

Corobborated by:
"n 1950, ETH was the first university on the European continent to own a
programmable computer. The Institute for Applied Mathematics built its
first own computer, the ERMETH, in 1955."

This site (don't know them) has an interesting claim:

"In 1950/1951 the Z4 was the only working digital computer in
continental Europe, and the first digital computer in the world to be
sold, beating the Ferranti Mark I by five months and the UNIVAC I by ten

This historical page does not mention another computer at ETH:

An article about the ERMETH does not mention another computer prior to
the Z4 either:

Steve Jenkin, Info Tech, Systems and Design Specialist.
0412 786 915 (+61 412 786 915)
PO Box 48, Kippax ACT 2615, AUSTRALIA

sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au http://members.tip.net.au/~sjenkin

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