Turing Complete Mechanical Computer (Z1, Z2, Z3, Z4)

The Z-series computers are notable as the first recognized as the first “Turing complete” (modern) computer. The Nazis did not see the computer as strategically important and invested little in it. The company survived the war but there was little demand for their machines. They eventually sold the patents to the Americans.

Zuse worked for the Nazis but wasn’t a party member. He invented the modern computer that was electro-mechanical and iteratively improved it. He also the first programming language, Plankalkül.

After the sale of patents, he continued with his computer company but it struggled. Zuse sold to Siemens in 1967 after building 251 computers.

Zuse met Turing at least once, at a conference before the war.

But for an epic court case, Honeywell, Inc. v. Sperry Rand Corp., tried in 1973 – the then longest civil trial in US history concerning patenting the computer itself – the Z-series computers would likely have been forgotten.

Besides inventing the first modern computer, Zuse arguably also invented the first modern computer company.