The Stored-Program Universal Computer: Did Zuse Anticipate Turing and von Neumann?
This chapter sets out the early history of the stored-program concept. The several distinct ‘onion skins’ making up the concept emerged slowly over a ten-year period, giving rise to a number of different programming paradigms. A notation is developed for describing different aspects of the stored-program concept. Theoretical contributions by Turing, Zuse, Eckert, Mauchly, and von Neumann are analysed, followed by a comparative study of the first practical implementations of stored-programming, at the Aberdeen Ballistic Research Laboratory in the US and the University Manchester in the UK. Turing’s concept of universality is also examined, and an assessment is provided of claims that various historic computers—including Babbage’s Analytical Engine, Flowers’ Colossus and Zuse’s Z3—were universal. The chapter begins with a discussion of the work of the great German pioneer of computing, Konrad Zuse.