Heinz Zemanek

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Heinz Zemanek
Heinz Zemanek JKU 2007.jpg
Heinz Zemanek in 2007
Born (1920-01-01) 1 January 1920 (age 94)
Fields Computer Scientist
Institutions Vienna University of Technology, IBM
Alma mater Vienna University of Technology
Known for Mailüfterl, PL/I
Notable awards Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art, 1st class (2005)

Heinz Zemanek (born January 1, 1920) is an Austrian computer pioneer who in 1955 developed the first complete transistorised computer on the European continent. The computer was named Mailüfterl - German for "May breeze" - in reference to Whirlwind, a computer developed at MIT between 1945 and 1951.


Heinz Zemanek went to a secondary school in Vienna and earned his Matura in 1937. He then started to study at the University of Vienna. In 1940 Zemanek was drafted into the Wehrmacht, where he served in a "communication unit" and also as a teacher in an Intelligence Service School. Returning to studying radar technology he earned his Diplom in 1944 with the help of University of Stuttgart professor Richard Feldtkeller (1901-1981).

After the war Zemanek worked as an assistant at the university and earned his Phd in 1951 about timesharing methods in multiplex telegraphy. In 1952 he completed the URR1 (Universal Relais Rechner 1 i.e. Universal Relay Computer 1).

The Vienna Lab[edit]

The IBM Laboratory Vienna, also known as the Vienna Lab, was founded in 1961 as a department of the IBM Laboratory in Böblingen, Germany, with Professor Zemanek as its first manager.[1] Zemanek remained with the Vienna Lab until 1976, when he was appointed an IBM Fellow.[2] He was crucial in the creation of the formal definition of the programming language PL/I.[3]

For several years, Zemanek has been a lecturer at the Vienna University of Technology, which features a lecture hall named in his honor. He is also a long-time member of the International Federation for Information Processing, and was its president from 1971 to 1974.


Professor Zemanek joined the Boy Scouts in 1932 and served as Scout Leader, International Secretary of Austria from 1946-1949 and International Commissioner of the Pfadfinder Österreichs from 1949-1954.

Honours and awards[edit]

This article incorporates information from the equivalent article on the German Wikipedia.


  • Bekanntes & Unbekanntes aus der Kalenderwissenschaft. München : Oldenbourg, 1978
  • Kalender und Chronologie. München : Oldenbourg, 1990
  • Weltmacht Computer. Esslingen : Bechtle, 1991
  • Das geistige Umfeld der Informationstechnik. Berlin : Springer, 1992
  • Unser Kalender. Wien : Wiener Kath. Akad., 1995
  • Vom Mailüfterl zum Internet. Wien : Picus-Verlag, 2001
  • Anekdoten zur Informatik. Innsbruck : Studien-Verlag, 2001


  1. ^ Bandat 1985, p.53
  2. ^ Zemanek 1985, p.8
  3. ^ “A Formal Definition of a PL/1 Subset” was produced as TR 25.139 on 20 December 1974. The five authors of the report were Hans Bekič, Dines Bjørner, Wolfgang Henhapl, Cliff B. Jones, and Peter Lucas. See LNCS 177, Bekič and Jones, 1984. p.107-155.
  4. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question" (pdf) (in German). p. 1707. Retrieved 24 November 2012. 
  5. ^ "The Eduard Rhein Ring of Honor Recipients". Eduard Rhein Foundation. Retrieved February 5, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Ring of Honor 1998 - Prof. Dr. Dr.h.c. mult. Heinz Zemanek". Eduard Rhein Foundation. Retrieved February 5, 2011. 


  1. Bekič, Hans; Selected papers edited by C. B. Jones (1984). Programming Languages and Their Definition. Berlin, Heidelberg, New York, Tokyo: Springer-Verlag. ISBN 3-540-13378-X. LNCS 177. 
  2. Zemanek, Heinz (1985). "About the architecture of my life". In Neuhold, E.J. and Chroust, G. (editors). Proceedings of the IFIP TC2 Working Conference on The Role of Abstract Models in Information Processing. Amsterdam, New York, Oxford: North-Holland. pp. 1–28. ISBN 0-444-87888-2. 
  3. Bandat, K. (1985). "Heinz Zemanek and the IBM Laboratory Vienna". In Neuhold, E.J. and Chroust, G. (editors). Proceedings of the IFIP TC2 Working Conference on The Role of Abstract Models in Information Processing. Amsterdam, New York, Oxford: North-Holland. pp. 53–59. ISBN 0-444-87888-2. 

External links[edit]