Konrad Zuse Files For Patent
April 11th, 1936
German computer pioneer Konrad Zuse files for a patent for the automatic execution of calculations, a process he invents while working on what would become the Z-1, Germany’s first computer. In the patent application, Zuse offers the first discussion of programmable memory, using the term “”combination memory”” to describe breaking programs down into bit combinations for storage. This is the first device to calculate in binary with translation to decimal. Zuse goes on to build a series of computers.
Alan Turing Defines the Universal Machine
November 12th, 1937
Alan Turing’s paper entitled “On Computable Numbers with an Application to the Entscheidungs-problem” appeared on November 12, 1937, somewhat contemporaneously with Konrad Zuse’s work on the first of the Z machines in Germany, John Vincent Atanasoff ‘s work on the ABC, George Stibitz’s work on the Bell Telephony relay machine, and Howard Aiken’s on the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator.
Later renamed the Turing Machine, this abstract engine provided the fundamental concepts of computers that the other inventors would realise independently. So Turing provided the abstraction that would form the basic theory of computability for several decades, while others provided the pragmatic means of computation.
Zuse Z1 built by Konrad Zuse
June 30th, 1938
The Z1 was a mechanical computer designed by Konrad Zuse from 1935 to 1936 and built by him from 1936 to 1938. It was a binary electrically driven mechanical calculator with limited programmability, reading instructions from punched tape. A reproduction of this machine (pictured) is housed in the Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin.
The machine was a 22-bit floating point value adder and subtracter, with some control logic making it capable of more complex operations such as multiplication (by repeated additions) and division (by repeated subtractions). Z1’s ISA had nine instructions and its CPI ranged from 1 to 20.
The Z1 was the first in a series of computers designed by Konrad Zuse. The Z2 and Z3 were follow-ups based on many of the same ideas as the Z1.
The computer had a 64-word floating point memory, where each word of memory could be read from and written to by the control unit. The mechanical memory units were unique in their design and were patented by Konrad Zuse in 1936. The machine was only capable of executing instructions read from the punch tape reader, so the program itself was never loaded into the memory.
The Z1 was the first freely programmable computer of the world which used Boolean logic and binary floating point numbers. It was completed in 1938 and financed completely from private funds. Konrad Zuse’s first computer, built between 1936 and 1938, was destroyed in the bombardment of Berlin in December 1943, during World War II, together with all construction plans.
The Z1 contained almost all parts of a modern computer, e. g. control unit, memory, micro sequences, floating point logic (Only the logical unit was not realised) and input output devices.
Hewlett Packard Founded
January 1st, 1939
Hewlett Packard was founded on 1st January 1939 by Stamford University graduates David Packard and Bill Hewlett. Their initial location was a garage in Palo Alto, California, as was the case with so many Silicon Valley computer companies of the time.Their first product was not in fact a computer at all, but the HP 200A Precision Audio Oscillator which became a very popular piece of test equipment for engineers mainly due to its unique design and low cost. Walt Disney bought eight of the later model, the HP 200B which they used to certify the Fantasound surround sound system installed in cinemas for thier classic “Fantasia” film in 1940.
Patent is Filed for the Harvard Mark I
February 8th, 1945
C.D Lake, H.H. Aiken, F.E. Hamilton, and B.M. Durfee file a calculator patent for the Automatic Sequence Control Calculator, commonly known as the Harvard Mark I. The Mark I was a large automatic digital computer that could perform the four basic arithmetic functions and handle 23 decimal places. A multiplication took about five seconds.
Frederick Williams Receives Patent for RAM device
December 11th, 1946
A patent is issued for Sir Frederick Williams’ device for random-access memory. The Williams tube was a modified cathode-ray tube that painted dots and dashes of phosphorescent electrical charge on a screen representing binary ones and zeros. It became the primary memory for vacuum tube machines such as the IBM 701. Williams developed his device at Manchester University.