Heinz Zemanek

Heinz Zemanek (born 1 January 1920 in Vienna) is an Austrian computer pioneer.


After graduating in June 1937, he studied at the Vienna University of Technology Communications Technology. From 1943 he worked under the supervision of Richard Feldtkeller, a professor at the University of Stuttgart, on his thesis on the topic over the generation of short pulses from a sinusoid, in December 1944, he graduated with a degree in engineering. In June 1951, the promotion was followed by Dr. techn. ( Dissertation on time indexing method in telegraphy ), 1958, the Habilitation. From 1947 to 1961 he was Assistant Professor at the Technical University of Vienna.

In 1954, he supervised a thesis, under which the Logistic relay computing machine 1 was developed. His most famous achievement is the construction of the first fully transistorized computer called Mailüfterl on the European mainland. The name Mailüfterl is a pun and refers to Whirlwind, a computer in the period from 1945 to 1951 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has been developed. The " Mailüfterl " is on display at the Technical Museum Vienna.

Heinz Zemanek moved its 1961 Mailüfterl group of the former Technical University of Vienna for IBM, which established him the Vienna IBM laboratory. After laying the Vienna IBM labs to Böblingen Zemanek rose in 1976 for " IBM Fellow", the highest rank that a technician can reach the computer world market leader ( senior research fellow at its own disposition ). He held this position until his retirement in 1985. In the area of ​​programming languages ​​Zemanek was for the formal definition of the programming language PL / I from IBM jointly responsible, written in the so-called Vienna Definition Language (VDL ).

From October 1964 Zemanek was associate professor at the Vienna University of Technology, from September 1984 a full professor. After his retirement in 1985, he was until winter term 2006 Lecturer at the Institute for Computer Engineering at the Technical University of Vienna, at the auditorium is named after him, worked and held every year in the winter semester two of four lectures ( Abstract Computer Architecture, Human aspects the computer, history of computer science and geographic history of the computer ). He is a longstanding member of the International Federation for Information Processing ( IFIP ) and was its president from 1971 to 1974.

Named after him Heinz- Zemanek- Prize is organized by the Austrian Computer Society ( OCG ), whose founding member, he is awarded for outstanding research in the field of computer science.

He himself received in 2003 for his life's work the Cardinal Innitzer price. 2005 Zemanek was awarded the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art First Class. 2010 organized the German Museum, together with the Society for computer science and LMU a hard Symposium for the 90th birthday of Heinz Zemanek in which he is recognized as one of the leading pioneers of computer science in Central Europe.

In addition to his scientific activity Heinz Zemanek was a leader engaged in the Austrian Scouting.


  • Calendar and chronology. Munich: Oldenbourg, 1990, 5th, verb. Ed
  • World power computer. Esslingen: Bechtle, 1991
  • The intellectual environment of information technology. Berlin: Springer, 1992
  • Our calendar. Vienna: Vienna Kath Akad, 1995
  • From Mailüfterl to the Internet. Wien: Picus Verlag, 2001
  • Anecdotes to computer science. Innsbruck: Studien Verlag, 2001


  • Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art, First Class
  • Gold Decoration for Services to the City of Vienna
  • Johann Joseph Ritter von Prechtl Medal of the Vienna University of Technology
  • Winners of the Ring of Honour 1998, the Eduard Rhein Foundation
  • Leonardo da Vinci Medal of the European Society for the Education of Engineers
  • Rudolf Kompfner Medal of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology at the Technical University of Vienna ( 2010).
  • Hero of Uzbekistan (own specification Zemanek lt interview in the daily newspaper Der Standard, led by Dieter Zoubek, on the occasion of the 70th birthday of Zemanek )
  • Wilhelm Exner Medal