Math in Computing

Modern Computers and Mathematics

Who built the first mechanical binary computer?

German civil engineer Konrad Zuse (1910–1995) built the Z1—often thought of as the first mechanical binary computer—in his parent’s living room around 1938. His goal was to build a machine that would perform the lengthy and tedious calculations needed to design building structures. His computer’s design stored intermediate results in its memory and performed sequences of arithmetic operations that he programmed on punched paper tape (he initially used old movie film). This machine led to the Z3 in 1941. Since the machine used a binary number system, it is considered by some to be the first large-scale, fully functional, automatic digital computer.


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