Our Konrad Zuse was well aware of the stupidity of what he had done by inventing the computer: “Until now, the inertia of bureaucracy had protected the citizen from many bureaucratic attacks. Now the computer comes along and does it all in milliseconds…” That’s why we don’t want to be like that and its…

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Our Konrad Zuse was well aware of the stupidity of what he had done by inventing the computer: “Until now, the inertia of bureaucracy had protected the citizen from many bureaucratic attacks. Now the computer comes along and does it all in milliseconds…” That’s why we don’t want to be like that and celebrate his birthday anyway. He didn’t mean it badly, our hero. Our Zuse was born in Wilmersdorf and in 1941 he built the world’s first real computer with his Z3 and in 1946 he also invented the first high-level programming language, Plankalkül. As a self-confessed supporter of Prussianism, our Konrad Zuse also gets the Prussian song for his birthday: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-_XcuHcIPI

“I am a Prussian, do you know my colours?

The flag hovers white and black in front of me!

That for freedom my fathers died,

My colors indicate that.

I’ll never despair,

Like them I will dare

Be it a dull day, be it a bright sunshine,

I am a Prussian, want to be a Prussian!

With love and loyalty I approach the throne,

Of which a father speaks mildly to me;

And like the father faithful to his son,

So I stand faithfully with him and do not waver.

The bonds of love are firm;

Hail to my fatherland!

The king’s call enters my heart:

I am a Prussian, want to be a Prussian!

Not every day can glow in the sunlight;

A cloud and a shower is coming;

That’s why no one reads it on my face,

Let not everyone’s desires prosper me.

Probably traded near and far

Many with me;

Their happiness is deceit and their freedom illusion:

I am a Prussian, want to be a Prussian!

And if the evil storm rushes wildly around me,

The night burns in the embers of lightning;

There has already been trouble in the world,

And what did not tremble was the Prussian courage.

May rock and oak splinter,

I will not tremble;

It storms and crashes, it flashes wildly!

I am a Prussian, want to be a Prussian!

Where love and trust consecrate themselves to the king,

Where prince and people shake hands,

There must be true happiness for the people,

The beautiful fatherland blossoms and grows.

So we swear by the new

Love and loyalty to the king!

Firm be the covenant! Yes, boldly strike!

We are Prussians, let’s be Prussians.

And we, the ones on the Baltic and North Sea beaches,

Set as sentinel, tempered by wave and wind,

We who have been through the ties of blood since Düppel

Shackled to Prussia’s throne and people,

We don’t want to look backwards,

No, go forward with confidence!

We call out loud to the whole world:

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We are Prussians too, want to be Prussians!

The star of Prussia shall shine far and wide,

The Prussian eagle soar above the clouds,

Wreath the Prussian flag with fresh laurels,

The Prussian sword for victory breaks the path.

And high on Prussia’s throne

In the splendor of Friedrich’s crown

Rule us a king strong and gentle,

And every Prussian breast is a shield to him!“

Generally, the bosses write the references for their employees, but our Konrad Zuse was so good as a boss that he could have his employees issue a reference without hesitation:

“Despite all imaginable difficulties caused by the war, the workers in my company made good progress. At times I also chose the way out of working with assistants who only worked for me on an hourly or daily basis, according to Alfred Eckhard and Karl-Ernst Hoestermann, both motivators who studied telecommunications. They had been drafted as soldiers, but were able to do their duty in the telephone exchange of the Wehrmacht High Command on Bendlerstrasse. From there they brought other employees with them, including Kurt Brettschneider. They also later wrote some short reports for Czauderna’s book already mentioned. I want to reproduce excerpts from two of these reports: “It was a very fortunate circumstance that I, a soldier in the German Wehrmacht, worked as a “mechanic” for the telephone exchange in May 1940 was commanded in the OKW Berlin. Although I was not able to continue my interrupted studies in communications engineering at the TH Berlin, I was able to work in the assembly of the first program-controlled computing machines in my free time. In the fall of 1940, Konrad Zuse had invited me to a demonstration of his first Z2 relay machine, together with Helmut Schreyer and Alfred Eckhard, in my parents’ apartment on Methfesselstrasse. The house in the style of the stately residential houses from the second half of the last century with marble stairs and stucco ceilings was in stark contrast to the sober atmosphere that one was used to from institutes and development laboratories. My first reaction: Did the gang make a joke with me? However, my doubts were soon cleared. In a large living room, furnished in Art Nouveau style, there was a mechanical, indefinable something, assembled from sheet metal, Stabil modular components, glass plates, crank arms, gear wheels and a program drum like a carillon, the size of a dining table for eight people. This structure was presented to me as the first, program-controlled, mechanical calculating machine. However, it was no longer operational. Next to it on an old kitchen table was a frame about one meter high and 0.6 meters wide, full of relays, rotary selectors and a cruel wire entanglement, the first program-controlled calculating machine with a relay arithmetic unit (Z2). Like every visitor, I had to calculate the value of a 3rd degree determinant from self-chosen four-digit numbers with the help of pencil and paper. Then a single-arm converter was ceremoniously started (Zuse lived in a DC area of ​​Berlin), a motor-driven rotary switch with segments and sweeping-tone clocks turned on, the numbers I had chosen were pushed into the calculator with pushbuttons, and then a click and rattle of relays, pounding and rattling of rotary selectors and after about 1 minute a lamp field displayed the result that I had miscalculated. When, after further manipulations on the computer, it was also proven to me where I had miscalculated, my initial skepticism turned into sheer enthusiasm. Now a lively discussion started about Zuse’s plans for the development and construction of a larger relay calculating machine. Some suggestions to improve operational safety have been accepted, e.g. B. the elimination of old relays and the use of new wires for wiring the system. Because of the changes to be expected during commissioning, a compromise was found between random wiring and tied cable harnesses, a technique similar to that used in telephone main distributors. The motor-driven contactor was designed as a switching drum and a flat dust-protection cabinet with glass doors was planned for the entire system. Other comrades from the OKW electoral hall then helped put the system together. I remember Peter Löchel, who, however, was particularly idiosyncratic in representing circuit technology without a clock and therefore soon left, and Kurt Brettschneider, who developed particularly good relationships with the manager of the relay “waste box” at the OKW. We received an hourly wage of 1 Reichsmark plus free beer, which at that time was brown beer and was delivered in 5-litre kegs by horse-drawn cart and bottled by kind mother Zuse for us eternally hungry and thirsty soldiers. The calculating machine (the term “computer” only came up much later) was completed in just under a year. We soldiers always wondered when Zuse could have made all the circuit designs. His 15-hour workday certainly didn’t end there. With the successful commissioning of the system, the final proof was provided that a digital computer can have great advantages for the solution of future technical problems. I remember a discussion in which, when we asked whether it was possible to use computers to calculate lenses, von Zusewas answered: “Yes, if you can determine trigonometric functions with the computer” (which was later also realized by Zuse). In another discussion, Zuse even suggested that the wiring of calculating machines should be carried out by a program-controlled automaton. At that time, however, there was no thought of that, because the necessary development of suitable components would have gone beyond the scope of improvisation caused by the war. Soon after the completion of this system, which was later designated Z3, construction of a much larger computer began in the meanwhile rented rooms of a ground floor apartment opposite Methfesselstrasse 10. The order came from the DVL (German Research Institute for Aviation) Berlin-Adlershof. This device, known as the Z4, was also a universal system for technical and scientific calculations. In addition, Zuse built special equipment for measuring wings. Airfoil profiles were to be measured with specially developed dial gauges working as analog-digital converters and correction values ​​were to be determined with the help of the permanently programmed computer. Even before the completion of this first process computer, the golden days at the OKW were over for me. However, the contact to Zuse and his program-controlled computers has not broken off to this day. During the last weeks of the war, when the power was cut off in the house at Oranienstrasse 6, I helped to turn the elevator car, loaded with the Z4, with the hand wheel on the elevator winch from the basement to the loading ramp. (Karl-Ernst Hoestermann) …”

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