Missing manual for world's oldest surviving computer found

The long-lost manual for the Zuse Z4, the oldest surviving digital computer has been found.

The Z4 was the last computer the Nazis invented. Ahead of the Soviet invasion of Berlin, the Wehrmacht evacuated the machine west to Göttingen. It's inventor Konrad Zuse—inventor of the world's first programmable computer, the Z3—completed work on the Z4 in Göttingen but had to move the machine again ahead of the Allies. From there, the Nazis wanted Zuse and his Z4 to move to the Mittelbau Dora, where slaves were building V1 and V2 rockets.

Zuse refused and escaped South to the small German town of Bad Hindelang. He hid the computer in a barn and waited out the war selling woodcuts to local farmers and American troops.

After the end of World War II, Zuse became regarded as the father of modern commercial computers and the Z4 was his flagship machine. It was one of the only computers on continental Europe and everyone wanted it. Eventually, the Z4 ended up at the Institute of Applied Mathematics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich where it did calculations for Swiss aviation engineers. It was there, among the historical documents related to planes from the 1950s, that researchers found the Z4's manual just this year.

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Image: Clemens Pfeiffer/Wikimedia and E-manuscripta