Heinz Zemanek

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Heinz Zemanek
Heinz Zemanek JKU 2007.jpg
Heinz Zemanek in 2007
Born(1920-01-01)1 January 1920
Vienna, Austria
Died16 July 2014(2014-07-16) (aged 94)
Vienna, Austria
Alma materVienna University of Technology
Known forMailüfterl, PL/I
AwardsAustrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art, 1st class (2005)
Scientific career
FieldsComputer Scientist
InstitutionsVienna University of Technology, IBM

Heinz Zemanek (actually Heinrich Josef Zemanek) (1 January 1920 – 16 July 2014) was an Austrian computer pioneer who led the development, from 1954 to 1958, of one of the first complete transistorised computers on the European continent.[1] The computer was nicknamed 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). He died at the age of 94 on 16 July 2014.[2][3]

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.[4] Zemanek remained with the Vienna Lab until 1976, when he was appointed an IBM Fellow.[5] He was crucial in the creation of the formal definition of the programming language PL/I.[6]

For several years, Zemanek had been a lecturer at the Vienna University of Technology, which features a lecture hall named in his honor. He was also a long-time member of the International Federation for Information Processing, of which he was president from 1971 to 1974.[7]


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.[citation needed]

Honours and awards[edit]


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


  1. ^ Jones, Cliff B. (2015). "In memoriam: Professor Heinz Zemanek (1920–2014)". Formal Aspects of Computing. 27 (2): 237. doi:10.1007/s00165-015-0332-4.
  2. ^ "Austrian computing pioneer Heinz Zemanek dead at 94". 17 July 2014. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
  3. ^ "Morto Heinz Zemanek, disegno' il primo computer nel 1955". Internazionale. 17 July 2014. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
  4. ^ Bandat 1985, p.53
  5. ^ Zemanek 1985, p.8
  6. ^ "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, Jones, 1984. p.107–155.
  7. ^ "Heinz Zemanek – Biography". Austrian Computer Society. Retrieved 9 April 2016.
  8. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question" (PDF) (in German). p. 1707. Retrieved 24 November 2012.
  9. ^ Editor, ÖGV. (2015). Wilhelm Exner Medal. Austrian Trade Association. ÖGV. Austria.
  10. ^ "Members". European Academy of Sciences and Arts. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  11. ^ "The Eduard Rhein Ring of Honor Recipients". Eduard Rhein Foundation. Archived from the original on July 18, 2011. Retrieved February 5, 2011.
  12. ^ "Ring of Honor 1998 – Prof. Dr. Dr.h.c. mult. Heinz Zemanek". Eduard Rhein Foundation. Archived from the original on July 18, 2011. Retrieved February 5, 2011.


External links[edit]