Heinz Zemanek

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Heinz Zemanek (2007)
Heinz Zemanek (2007)

Heinz Zemanek , actually Heinrich Josef Zemanek , (born January 1, 1920 in Vienna ; † July 16, 2014 there ) was an Austrian computer pioneer.

life and work

After graduating from high school in June 1937, he studied communications engineering at the Technical University in Vienna (now the Technical University of Vienna ). From 1943 he worked under the supervision of Richard Feldtkeller , a professor at the University of Stuttgart , on his diploma thesis on the subject of generating short pulses from a sinusoidal oscillation , and in December 1944 he graduated as an engineer . In June 1951 he was with the work time Part procedures in telegraphy to Dr. techn. PhD. In 1958 he completed his habilitation and from 1947 to 1961 he was a university assistant at the Vienna University of Technology.

In 1954 he supervised a diploma thesis in the context of which the logistic relay calculator 1 was developed. His best-known achievement is the construction of the first fully transistorized computer on the European mainland, the “Mailüfterl” . The name is a play on words and refers to Whirlwind , a calculator that was developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) between 1945 and 1951 . The “Mailüfterl” is exhibited in the Technisches Museum Wien . His team included Peter Lucas , Georg J. Leser, Viktor Kudielka, Kurt Walk, Ernst Rothauser , Kurt Bandat and Norbert Teufelhart.

In 1961, Heinz Zemanek and his Mailüfterl group moved from the Technical University to IBM , which set up the IBM laboratory in Vienna for him . After moving the IBM laboratory in Vienna to Böblingen , Zemanek was promoted to " IBM Fellow " in 1976 , the highest rank a technician can achieve at the computer world market leader at the time (research officer at his own discretion). He held this position until his retirement in 1985.

In the field of programming languages , Zemanek was jointly responsible for the formal definition of the programming language PL / I for the company IBM, written in the so-called Vienna Definition Language (VDL) .

From October 1964 Zemanek was an associate professor at the Technical University of Vienna, from September 1984 a full university professor. After his retirement in 1985 he worked as a lecturer at the Institute for Computer Technology at the Vienna University of Technology until the winter semester 2006 and held two out of four lectures every year in the winter semester (abstract computer architecture, human aspects of computers, the history of computer science and geographic history of the computer).

Zemanek was a long-time member of the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) and its president from 1971 to 1974.

In 2003 Zemanek received the Kardinal Innitzer Prize for his life's work . In 2005 he was awarded the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art, 1st Class . In 2010, the Deutsches Museum, together with the Society for Computer Science and the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich (LMU) organized a symposium on the 90th birthday of Heinz Zemanek, at which he was recognized as one of the leading computer science pioneers in Central Europe. Since 1992 he has been a corresponding member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences .

The Heinz Zemanek Prize , named after him, is awarded by the Austrian Computer Society (OCG), of which Zemanek was a founding member, for exceptional research work in the field of computer science .

A seminar room at the Vienna University of Technology is named after Zemanek.

In addition to his scientific work, Heinz Zemanek was a leader in the Austrian scout movement.

He was buried in an honorary grave at Baumgartner Friedhof (group 21, number 219). In 2019, the Zemanekgasse in Vienna- Landstrasse (3rd district) was named after him.


  • Calendar and Chronology: Known & Unknown from Calendar Science. 5th, verb. Edition. Oldenbourg, Munich 1990, ISBN 3-486-20927-2 .
  • World power computer: history, structures, media. Bechtle, Esslingen 1991, ISBN 3-7628-0492-3 .
  • The intellectual environment of information technology. Springer, Berlin 1992, ISBN 3-540-54359-7 .
  • Our calendar. (= Writings of the Vienna Catholic Academy. Volume 12). Vienna Catholic Academy, Vienna 1995, DNB 955933331 .
  • From the mail fan to the Internet. History, perspectives and criticism of information technology. (= Vienna lectures in the town hall . Volume 78). Picus, Vienna 2001, ISBN 3-85452-378-5 . (extended version of the lecture at the Technical University of Vienna on February 29, 2000)
  • A. Reiter (Ed.), C. Berger (Ill.), H. Zemanek and 25 other authors: anecdotes on computer science. Punch lines, mishaps, pioneers from science and school. Studien-Verlag, Innsbruck 2001, ISBN 3-7065-1697-7 .


  • Friedrich Genser: Thought, written, drawn: a little insight into the world of thought of the computer pioneer and polymath Heinz Zemanek. Caricatures by Christian Berger, edited by Anton Reiter. Balje - Superbrain-Verlag, 2012, ISBN 978-3-00-036489-1 .


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ DerStandard.at - Austrian computer pioneer Heinz Zemanek dies . Article dated July 17, 2014, accessed July 17, 2014.
  2. ^ Science.orf.at - Computer pioneer Heinz Zemanek has died . Article dated July 17, 2014, accessed July 17, 2014.
  3. zemanek.at - short biography . Retrieved March 16, 2014.
  4. An interview with Heinz Zemanek, conducted by Philip Davis . Interview from June 11, 2005, accessed on March 16, 2014.
  5. ^ Obituary for Peter Lucas - Mailüfterl team . Retrieved September 28, 2015.
  6. O. Univ.-Prof. Dr. Heinz Zemanek: 60 years of lecturing at the TU Vienna . Retrieved September 28, 2015.
  7. ^ Heinz Zemanek obituary in the 2015 yearbook of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences (PDF file).
  8. ^ Zemanek seminar room - Vienna University of Technology . Retrieved July 22, 2014.