Helmut Hölzer

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Helmut Hölzer (English: Hoelzer)
HolzerHelmut Huntsville.jpg
Helmut Hölzer in Huntsville, Alabama
Born(1912-02-27)February 27, 1912
DiedOctober 12, 1996(1996-10-12) (aged 84)
Huntsville, Alabama, United States
Alma materTechnische Hochschule Darmstadt
Known forDesigning an electronic simulator for the V-2 rocket control system.[1][2]
Scientific career
FieldsElectrical Engineering,[3] Applied mathematics
Institutions1933-tbd: teaching

1939: Telefunken (Berlin)
1939-1945: Peenemünde
1940's-1950's: Fort Bliss/WSPG
1950's-1950's: Redstone Arsenal
1950's-1960's: ABMA

1960-1970's: Marshall Space Flight Center (Director, Computation Division)[4]

Helmut Hoelzer[5] was a Nazi Germany V-2 rocket engineer who was brought to the United States under Operation Paperclip. Hoelzer was the inventor and constructor of the world's first electronic analog computer.[6]


In October 1939, while working for the Telefunken electronics firm in Berlin, Hoelzer met with Ernst Steinhoff,[7] Hermann Steuding, and Wernher von Braun regarding guide beams for a flying body.[Neufeld 1] In late 1940 at Peenemünde, Hoelzer was head of the guide beam division[Neufeld 2] (assistant Henry Otto Hirschler[8]), which developed a guide-plane system which alternates a transmitted signal from two antennas a short distance apart, as well as a vacuum tube mixing device (German: Mischgerät)[9] which corrected for momentum that would perturb an object that had been moved back on-track.[Neufeld 3] By the fall of 1941, Hoelzer's "mixing device" was used to provide V-2 rocket rate measurement instead of rate gyros.[Neufeld 4]

Then at the beginning of 1942, Hoelzer built an analog computer to calculate and simulate[8][10][11] V-2 rocket trajectories[Neufeld 5][12] Hoelzer's team also developed the Messina telemetry system.[3] After evacuating Peenemünde for the Alpenfestung (Alpine Fortress), Hoelzer returned to Peenemünde via motorcycle to look for portions of his PhD dissertation[5] prior to surrendering to United States forces at the end of World War II.

Hoelzer was a student of Alwin Walther.[6]


One of his grandchildren is Olympic swimmer Margaret Hoelzer.


  1. ^ Tomayko, James E. "Computers Take Flight: A History of NASA's Pioneering Digital Fly-by-Wire Project" (PDF). p. 13. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2004-07-19. Retrieved October 18, 2008.
  2. ^ Tomayko, James E. (July 1985). "Helmut Hoelzer's Fully Electronic Analog Computer". Annals of the History of Computing. 7 (3): 227–240. doi:10.1109/mahc.1985.10025. S2CID 15986944.
  3. ^ a b Wade, Mark. "Hoelzer". Astronautix. Retrieved October 19, 2008.
  4. ^ June 6, 1960
  5. ^ a b Ordway, Frederick I, III; Sharpe, Mitchell R (1979). The Rocket Team. Apogee Books Space Series 36. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell. pp. 46, 294. ISBN 1-894959-00-0.
  6. ^ a b Biener, Klaus (August 1999). "Alwin Walther – Pionier der Praktischen Mathematik". RZ-Mitteilungen. doi:10.18452/6275.
  7. ^ Ernst Steinhoff
  8. ^ a b H. Otto Hirschler, 87, Aided Space Program
  9. ^ Ley, Willy (1951) [1944]. Rockets, Missiles and Space Travel (Revised edition 1958). New York: The Viking Press. p. 257.
  10. ^ Neufeld, Michael J. (2013-09-10). The Rocket and the Reich: Peenemunde and the Coming of the Ballistic Missile Era. Smithsonian Institution. p. 138. ISBN 9781588344663.
  11. ^ Ulmann, Bernd (2013-07-22). Analog Computing. Walter de Gruyter. p. 38. ISBN 9783486755183.
  12. ^ Tomayko, James E. (1985). "Helmut Hoelzer's Fully Electronic Analog Computer". IEEE Annals of the History of Computing. 7 (3): 227–240. doi:10.1109/MAHC.1985.10025. S2CID 15986944.


  • Neufeld, Michael J (1995). The Rocket and the Reich: Peenemünde and the Coming of the Ballistic Missile Era. New York: The Free Press. pp. 104, 106, 107, 140.
  1. ^ p. 107
  2. ^ p. 140
  3. ^ p. 104
  4. ^ p. 106
  5. ^ p. 106