Freeman of the Town and father of the computer
Prof. Dr. h.c. Konrad Zuse had to battle for international recognition for a long time. In the midst of the war, 1941 in Berlin, he presented his first operational, freely programmable computer to a small group of scientists and engineers. It already worked with binary, floating point arithmetic, a principle that forms the basis of every modern computer.
Today, even American and British scientists acknowledge that it was Konrad Zuse who built the first computer. The computer pioneer spent the biggest part of his creative life from 1956 until his death in 1995 in Hünfeld.
The town awarded him the Freedom of the Town as long ago as 1976. Since 2006, Hünfeld has been known quite officially as the “Konrad-Zuse-Stadt” through an edict of the Minister of the Interior of the State of Hessen at the time, Volker Bouffier.
Not only names such as the Konrad-Zuse-Platz, the Konrad-Zuse-Straße or the Konrad-Zuse-Schule remind us of his diverse scientific, technical and artistic work, but the Konrad-Zuse-Museum Hünfeld with its history of the town and district is also dedicated to his life’s work. This museum has the most extensive collection of Zuse devices worldwide and many exhibits based on which visitors can encounter Zuse as an engineer, scientist, but also artist.
Zuse created not only the world’s first program-controlled computer working with binary, floating-point arithmetic, but he also wrote the first universal programming language in 1946, the “Plankalkül” and in 1949 founded the world’s first commercial computer firm in Neukirchen near Hünfeld. His devices revolutionised the research and teaching at German universities and quite significantly influenced the industrial development of Germany in the post-war years.
Even after he left the company in 1965, he continued working scientifically and was able to devote himself still more to his great passion, painting. Zuse was creatively active until the very end and, even in the year of his death in 1995, he still acquired a patent for the Helix Tower he had engineered.