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Siemens 2002 computer system, 1957

1957: The fully transistorized, mass-produced 2002 computer

In 1957 Siemens presented the world with the first mass-produced transistorized computer: The 2002 system. The first unit was delivered two years later, to the Technical University in Aachen. The importance of that milestone becomes clear when we realize that at the time, the world market in data processing was almost entirely controlled by the American company IBM and Europe had almost no importance as a home market. Mass production of the computer system led to widespread use of data processing for a vast range of applications.

 

“Normal” teletype machines developed by Siemens originally served for input and output. They were later supplemented with punched tape and punch cards. Fast printers and magnetic tape machines followed. Hybrid technology, introduced in 1962, with its miniaturized components and reduced circuit lengths, sped up computing speeds from 1,300 to 160,000 instructions per second. The 2002 system’s advanced technology kept it in production for almost ten years.

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Siemens Computer 3003, 1963

1963: The Computer 3003

Based on the practical experience gained in producing and operating the 2002 system, in 1963 Siemens introduced a successor, the Computer 3003, with a higher operating speed than the 2002. It could process several user programs at a time and input and output devices could run simultaneously. A proprietary program saved users the effort of coordinating simultaneous operations of the input and output devices as well as controlling the various user programs.

 

The ability to interact with human users was a key point, because now input was not just reserved for experts. The main uses were in scientific and administrative tasks. That brought along a whole string of new applications – for example, two computers formed the core of an automated production line at the Thyssen Röhrenwerke AG tubing factory. And the University Library in Bochum also used a 3003 to manage book lending.

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Siemens Computer 4004, 1972

1965: The 4004 computer series

By 1965, the compatibility principle was already largely a reality in the new 4004 computer family. The family’s five systems – the  4004/15, 25, 35, 45 and 55 – offered a series of increasingly powerful models. Upward compatibility from one system to the next was guaranteed. There was even two-way programming compatibility between the 4004/35, 4004/45 and 4004/55. All of which yielded a great deal of flexibility in customer use – an important competitive advantage.

 

An extensive range of input and output devices, and especially the ability to connect with optical character readers, opened up broad usage opportunities for the 4004 family. Siemens’ development of the 3352 laser printer in 1976, for connection to the 4004 and 7000 systems, brought a new, non-mechanical technology into the field of computer data output. Laser technology raised printing speeds to as much as 70,000 characters per second – about 10 times the capacity of previous conventional fast printers.

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Synapse-1 neural computer, 1992

1992: Synapse-1 neural computer

As software evolved further into powerful programs like simulations of neural networks – which imitate the workings of the human brain – new developments, like “self-teaching” computers, came along. To date, though, the process of simulating learning on a workstation in particular had impeded rapid development of neural applications because each step of the learning process took so long.

 

Therefore “neural” computers were developed, which were better suited for simu