Heinz Nixdorf

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Heinz Nixdorf
Born (1925-04-09)April 9, 1925
Paderborn, Westphalia, Prussia
Died March 17, 1986(1986-03-17) (aged 60)
Hanover, Lower Saxony
Nationality German
Known for Founder of Nixdorf Computer

Heinz Nixdorf (April 9, 1925 – March 17, 1986) was a German computing pioneer, businessman and founder of Nixdorf Computer AG.

Nixdorf was born in Paderborn.

The 27 year-old Nixdorf, who was a physics student, founded his first computer company in 1952. He would lead this company as its owner to an international electronic concern that would make almost 4 billion D-Mark. His microcomputer could stand up to the mainframes and because of that, Nixdorf was known as one of the founders who were a symbol for the German economic miracle. He also was an ambitious sportsman and known for the good education of his employees. In 1986 he died of a heart attack in Hanover at the CeBIT

Early life[edit]

Nixdorf was born on April 25, 1925 as the oldest child of five. He went to a Catholic board school where he first showed his talent for maths and science. Because of his father's joblessness in the 1920s and '30s, his childhood was shaped by poverty. Because of his good grades he was able to gain a scholarship to become a teacher. Nixdorf didn't want to be a teacher so he wrote a letter to the Ministry of Education in Berlin. In 1941 they allowed him to visit the Reismann-Gymnasium in Paderborn. In 1942, Nixdorf was drafted by the Wehrmacht and served on the Eastern Front. He could only finish his education in 1947 after he did his Abitur.


With the aid of a scholarship Nixdorf was able to study physics at the Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe Universität in Frankfurt am Main in 1947. There he also had seminars in business economics. In 1951 Nixdorf got a job in the development department of Remington Rand Corp.. There he learned the basic knowledge of light calculators and met Walter Sprick and became his assistant. When Sprick left the company to work at IBM, he gave Nixdorf his inventions. With that, Nixdorf developed the Elektronensaldierer and the Elektronenmultiplizierer.

Progress of the Company[edit]

In 1952 Nixdorf founded the Labor für Impulstechnik in Essen. On September 5, 1952, Nixdorf hired his first employee Alfred Wierzioch. Both were convinced by the idea of the calculator. In 1954 the first vacuum-tube computer, called ES was published. The young company evolved very fast.

In 1959 the company moved to Paderborn where Nixdorf was born. There he had more space to make his company bigger. In 1961 he started to build his company with 60 employees. In 1965 Nixdorf introduced a desk calculator at Hannover Messe. It was the first computer. Technically it was a revolution. The Nixdorf company invented the Nixdorf System 820 in 1967 which was very successful. In 1968 Nixdorf bought the Wanderer-Werke and renamed the company in Nixdorf Computer AG.

Brand leader in Germany[edit]

The most successful time for the Nixdorf Computer AG began in the 1970s. The company made 4 billion D-Mark in 1985. They had 24,000 employees in 44 countries. On March 17, 1986, Nixdorf died of a heart attack in Hanover at the CeBIT.

Nixdorf as an Employer[edit]

Nixdorf was very interested in the education of his employees, so he put a lot of personal effort and money in it. Because of that, 1969 he founded a trade school on the company premises. Furthermore, he supported the Universität-Gesamthochschule Paderborn. He also wanted his employees to do sports. Sport lessons were obligatory and for a better opportunity to do sport, he established the Ahorn-Sportpark in 1984. The sports park was also available to the public, and even today it is free.[when?]

Nixdorf also demanded an airport in Paderborn, otherwise he would move with the company to Frankfurt am Main. So the Paderborn Lippstadt Airport was built and was opened in 1971. It cost 13.7 million D-Mark.

Personal life[edit]

Nixdorf was married to Renate Ring from 1960. They had 3 sons. One of them, Martin Nixdorf, is now the chairman of the Heinz-Nixdorf-Stiftung and of the Stiftung Westfalen as well.

External links[edit]