Important Computing Events from the 1930s

Maritza Gallegos

Map of Germany and Belgium


Germany, 1933- The first automatic public telex system was trial run by the German Reich mail system with the help of the Siemens company.

Green Dot - Cinquantenaire Palace, Brussels, Belgium, 1934- Paul Otlet publishes Traité de Documentation, proposing remote data access to his and Henri La Fontaine's Mundaneum though telephones and televisions globally. The Mundaneum was a global library museum housed in Cinquantenaire Park, which was shut down in 1934 and then removed by the Germans during their invasion of Belgium in 1940.

Map of United States


Red dot - New York City, United States, 1937- George Stibitz proved that boolean logic could be used in computers through his Model "K" Adder circuit, which utilized electromechanical relays.

Map of Germany


Blue dot - Berlin, Germany, 1938- Konrad Zuse finishes the Z1 computer, the first computer in the world. The Z1 operated on Boolean logic. This prototype, along with Z2 and Z3, was destroyed during WWII.

Red dot - Mansfield, United States, 1938- Elektro, a smoking, walking, and talking robot, is finished in Ohio by Westinghouse. Elektro was voice controlled, although the voice commands were understood by their rhythm- the robot did not understand their meaning. Elektro was demonstrated in the 1939 World's Fair in New York with great success.

Map of Germany and the United States


Blue dot - Berlin, Germany, 1939- Konrad Zuse develops the Z2. This computer was relay-based as an improvement on the Z1, which did not work very well. It was almost done in 1939, but it was delayed to 1940 due to Zuse being required to join the army.

Red dot - New York City, United States, 1939- George Stibitz produces the Model I Complex Calculator, the first electrical digital computer. It built on the boolean logic circuits Stibitz created. This computer utilized telephone switches and electromechanical relays.



Computer History Museum

Siemens Telegraphy and Telex

Britannica Paul Otlet

JSTOR Paul Otlet

Bell Labs Timeline

German Museum of Technology

Tracing Unsolvability: A Mathematical, Historical and Philosophical analysis with a special focus on Tag Systems

Spectrum IEEE Elektro

Map Data

Hubatsch, W. and T. Klein (eds.) 1975 ff.: Grundriß der deutschen Verwaltungsgeschichte – Marburg.

MPIDR [Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research] and CGG [Chair for Geodesy and Geoinformatics, University of Rostock] 2011: MPIDR Population History GIS Collection (partly based on Hubatsch and Klein 1975 ff.) – Rostock.

World Borders data provided by Bjorn Sandvich at Thematic Mapping and was originally downloaded from Mapping Hacks. It was derived by Schuyler Eric and enhanced by Sean Gilles. The original data is protected by a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

Disclaimer: Germany's borders are debatable in some of the maps due to the areas it invaded and annexed prior to World War II.