Konrad Zuse's Z1

Raul Rojas' 2014 paper provides the first comprehensive description of the Z1, the mechanical computer built by the German inventor Konrad Zuse in Berlin from 1936 to 1938. The arxiv paper describes the main structural elements of the machine, the high-level architecture, and the dataflow between components. pdf

A view of the reconstructed Z1 in Berlin. This from the 360° view available at the Konrad Zuse Internet Archive. pano

The information for this article was extracted from careful study of the blueprints drawn by Zuse for the reconstruction of the Z1 for the German Technology Museum in Berlin, from some letters, and from sketches in notebooks. site

The Z1 was a mechanical but also a surprisingly modern computing machine. It was based on binary numbers, used a floating-point representation and could perform the four basic arithmetic operations. The program sequence was read from a punched tape and the results stored to or read from a 16 words memory. The machine cycle was 4 Hz.


A Zuse exhibit inspired CS professor Harry Porter to build a working computer out of relays using Zuse's design for the adder. See Harry Porter's Relay Computer