Let’s face it, much of our youth depends on the handy calculator for their math classes, and we love to whip out our calculator on the spot equipped in our mobile phones if we can’t solve a math problem quickly. Being accurate in our calculations and being able to do so with a calculator has brought us much efficiency.

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Inventor of the Calculator

Konrad Zuse

Over the last few years we have seen quite the evolution of the computer. At one time, the computer was so large no one owned one; but that all changed and then nearly everyone owned a desktop computer. Now there is a tablet in almost every home and the desk top is reserved for those who make their living using the computer. The last four or five years we have witnessed the computer become completely mobile with virtually everything except maybe word processing being completed using hand held devices. It’s hard to imagine what life was like without the Smartphone, the tablet, or the desktop. But when Konrad Zuse began his work with batteries and old tin cans he had no idea how far reaching his invention would eventually be.

Educational Influence

Konrad Zuse was born in 1910 in Berlin,Germany. He completed his studies and graduated in 1935 from the Technische Hochschule Berlin-Charolottenburg with a degree in civil engineering. Upon graduation Zuse began working for the Henschel Aircraft Company but on the weekends he worked in his parent’s living room trying to build his computer, the Z1. He had begun working on it as a civil engineer student and grew very weary of the tedious calculations and had decided that there had to be a better way to compute. He felt like there should be some sort of machine that could handle all the tedious calculations. Zuse decided that there should be something that could perform any type of mathematical computation. When he realized that there were no types of devices that could do so, he set out to build one of his own.

Z1 to Z3

Zuse chose to call his computerized invention the Z1 which was originally called a v-1. He decided to change its name to the Z1 so it would not be confused with the guided missiles he had invented the V-1 and the V-2. The Z1 was quite the combination of pins and steel plates, but it did what he had wanted it to do – he had built a calculating machine. The Z1 used a binary or two digit system which made it much easier to construct and also made it faster to use. The unit also contained a mechanical memory which could store up to 16 24-bit binary numbers. It was programmed by using a series of holes punched into 35-ml film that was then fed through the machine. This was similar to the punch cards Ada Byron would use. The calculation results were displayed on a board made up of light bulbs. It worked, but it was so large it was awkward and it was not reliable at all.

Zuse took the mechanical memory of the Z1 and began working on the Z2 which would instead be a relay based using. The Z2 worked somewhat better but it still did not always deliver accurate results which meant it had to be monitored constantly and diligently. So he kept working and eventually developed the Z3. He solved the sparking relay problem by using coated drum and carbon brushes that revolved. The new Z3 included a 64 word memory and could