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.


ACE Alan turing Analytical engine Automatic sequence controlled calculator BINAC Charles Babbage Colossus EDVAC ENIAC F.C. Williams Henschel AG History of computing History of hardware History of software Howard Aiken J. Presper Eckert John Mauchly John V. Atanasoff John von Neumann Konrad Zuse M.H.A. Newman Manchester Baby Plankalkül Richard Clippinger Stored–program concept Thomas H. Flowers Thomas Haigh Tom Kilburn Universal Turing machine Zuse KG Z1 Z2 Z3 Z4 Z5 Z11 Z22 Z23 

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand
  2. 2.The Turing Centre, ETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  3. 3.School of Historical and Philosophical InquiryUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  4. 4.Department of Humanities, Social and Political SciencesETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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