Oral-History:Konrad Zuse

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About Konrad Zuse

Konrad Zuse, born 1910, is a German pioneer in computer development. In 1934, when he was a student at Zuse began constructing mechanical computers and then relay computers. During World War II, Zuse founded a company, the Zuse Engineer Bureau. After the war, he received contracts from Remington Rand in Switzerland to build relay computers, and soon expanded into making computers for European companies and universities. After Zuse Engineer Bureau’s purchase by Siemens, Zuse continued consulting for that firm into the present day.

The interview describes Zuse’s progress from mechanical to electro-mechanical and then electronic computer work from the 1930s to the 1990s. Zuse discusses the formation of his company, the Zuse Engineer Bureau, which built computers for the Remington Rand company, other European businesses, and universities. He addresses his firm’s rise in the 1950s and its economic problems after losing the Remington Rand business. Zuse also describes the growth and development of the computer industry in the 1960s, and how his company fit into that phenomenon. He explains the reconstruction of the Z3 computer for the Deutsches Museum and his company’s early attempt to create a keyboard-notcher for computer punch cards. The interview ends with Zuse’s discussion of his firm’s business contacts with Russia and Eastern Europe.

About the Interview

KONRAD ZUSE:An Interview Conducted by Frederik Nebeker, IEEE Center for the History of Electrical Engineering,
28 August 1994

Interview #224 for the Center for the History of Electrical Engineering, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc., and Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

Copyright Statement

This manuscript is being made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center.

Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center Oral History Program, Rutgers - the State University, 39 Union Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8538 USA. It should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user.

It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:
Konrad Zuse, an oral history conducted in 1994 by Frederik Nebeker, IEEE History Center, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.