These two sophisticated “
intelligent” chess machines were built approximately 30 years before Alan Turing
of the U.K. and Konrad Zuse of Germany
first thought about computer chess.
engine.” Torres Quevedo also tried to
build an analytical engine (see Figure
12) controlled by a remote typewriter
and incorporating several notable features of conditional branching, presenting it in Paris in 1920. He also published an important theoretical paper
on floating point arithmetic. 32
Early commercially available computer. Many historians view the Ferranti
Mark 1 (in the U.K.) and the Univac (in
the U.S.) as the “first” commercially
available computers, both delivered in
1951. However, the German relay calculator Zuse Z4 (see Figure 13) was already
operational in 1945, with the ETH Zürich
renting it in 1949. It remained in operation in Switzerland from 1950 to 1955
and is today on display at the Deutsches
Museum in Munich.
The Zuse Z4 was used in Zürich for
scientific and industrial purposes. Two
applications were the tension calculations for the Grande Dixence dam
(world’s highest) in the Canton of Wallis, Switzerland (see Figure 14) and flutter calculations for the jet fighter P- 16 of
Flug- und Fahrzeugwerke Altenrhein AG,
St. Gallen, Switzerand (see Figure 15). 5
Relay calculator Bark. Several computer scientists view the tape-controlled Zuse Z4 as the only functioning
computer in continental Europe in
1950. Yet there was another relay machine in Stockholm, Sweden, where
Bark was controlled via plug board and
was in operation until 1955 before being dismantled. 27
Early programming language.
Plankalkül developed by Zuse (1945)
is regarded as one of the earliest programming languages. Zuse also anticipated chess programming. 41
Donald Knuth21 considers mathematician
Heinz Rutishauser of Switzerland a
father of automatic programming. In
1951, Rutishauser suggested using the
computer itself to write programs, publishing “Automatische Rechenplanfertigung” (automatic production of programs) in 1952.30 These efforts later led
to the programming language Algol.
Though many historians view Grace
Figure 14. Grande Dixence in the Swiss Alps, the world’s highest concrete dam, relied on
calculations aided by the Zuse Z4 and electromechanical desktop calculators (such as Madas
from H. W. Egli AG, Zürich-Wollishofen). Courtesy of Grande Dixence SA, Sion, Switzerland.
Figure 13. Zuse’s binary relay computer Z4 was first commercially available in 1945; this
tape-controlled programmable machine with floating-point arithmetic was in operation in
Zürich from 1950 to 1955 and included an innovative mechanical memory without relays.
Courtesy of ETH Library Zürich, Switzerland.
Figure 12. Torres Quevedo’s electromechanical arithmometer (1920), typewriter controlled,
with conditional branching, based on Charles Babbage’s analytical engine. Courtesy of
Museo Leonardo Torres Quevedo, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain.