Visit The World’s Largest Computer Museum: The Heinz Nixdorf

Most stories in the history of computing took place in one of a small number of places. The wartime code-breaking effort in Bletchley Park led to Colossus, the first programmable electronic computer. Various university campuses in Britain and the US were home to first-generation computers like ENIAC, EDVAC and the Manchester Baby in the late 1940s. Silicon Valley then stole the limelight with the home computer revolution in the 1970s. Naturally, all of these places have their museums celebrating their local achievements, but the world’s largest computer museum is not found in Silicon Valley or on the campus of a famous university. Instead, you have to travel to a small German town called Paderborn, which houses the Heinz Nixdorf Museumsforum, or HNF.

Heinz Nixdorf might not be a household name in America like Jack Tramiel or Steve Jobs, but he was one of Europe’s great computer pioneers. Starting with vacuum tube based machines in 1952, Nixdorf gradually expanded his company into one of the largest computer manufacturers of the 1970s. His products were especially popular among large businesses in the financial sector, such as banks and insurance companies. By the late 1980s however, sales went downhill and the company was eventually acquired by Siemens. Today, the Nixdorf name lives on as part of Diebold-Nixdorf, a major producer of ATMs and checkout machines, reflecting the original company’s focus on the financial industry.

The museum’s roots lie in Heinz Nixdorf’s personal collection of typewriters and other office equipment. Although he already envisioned starting a museum dedicated to computing, his sudden death in 1986 put a stop to that. A few of his employees kept the plan alive however, and in 1996 the HNF was opened in Paderborn. Today the museum is run by a non-profit foundation that aims to provide education in information and communication technology to a wide audience.

The collection is housed in the former worldwide headquarters of Nixdorf Computer AG, a rather imposing 1970s office building covered in gold-tinted windows. Inside,]] you’re reminded of its former life as an office building through its compact layout and low ceilings. It does give the museum a bit of a cosy feel, unlike, say, the cavernous halls of London’s Science Museum, but don’t let this fool you: at 6,000 m2, the main exhibition area is about twice as large as that of Silicon Valley’s Computer History Museum.

First floor: The Basics of Communication and Calculation

The main exhibit begins with artifacts dating back 5,000 years: clay tablets from Sumeria show how ancient people recorded their thoughts, kept inventories and performed calculations. Devices like the abacus and the quipu from South America show how physical devices can help with arithmetic, which is otherwise a completely abstract science. Writing evolved through a series of different media into the printing press, making written materials available to more people than ever before.

These twin concepts of calculation and communication are carried forward throughout the exhibition. On one side of the hall, various printing

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World’s smallest battery can ability a personal computer the size of a grain of dust

The world’s smallest battery is lesser than a grain of salt and can be produced in huge portions on a wafer surface. Credit rating: TU Chemnitz/Leibniz IFW Dresden

Desktops are receiving lesser and smaller, just as present cell phones supply computing electricity very similar to that of a notebook. And the development toward miniaturization continues. Intelligent dust apps (very small microelectronic equipment), this sort of as biocompatible sensor methods in the overall body, demand from customers computers and batteries lesser than a dust mote. So significantly, this improvement has been hindered by two primary aspects: absence of on-chip electrical power sources for operation whenever and anywhere and complications in creating integrable microbatteries.

In the existing challenge of Advanced Electrical power Elements, Prof. Dr. Oliver G. Schmidt, head of the Professorship for Materials Techniques of Nanoelectronics and Scientific Director of the Center for Materials, Architectures and Integration of Nanomembranes (Major) at Chemnitz College of Technological know-how, Dr. Minshen Zhu, who has been doing the job in Prof. Schmidt’s team at the Analysis Heart Principal considering the fact that February 2022, and scientists from Leibniz Institute for Reliable Condition and Supplies Study (IFW) Dresden and Changchun Institute of Used Chemistry present a remedy to these worries. They discuss how battery-powered intelligent dust applications can be realized in the sub-millimeter-scale and present the world’s smallest battery by much as an software-oriented prototype.

“Our success present encouraging strength storage efficiency at the sub-sq.-millimeter scale,” says Dr. Minshen Zhu, and Prof. Oliver Schmidt provides: “There is however a substantial optimization probable for this technology, and we can expect much more powerful microbatteries in the potential.”

Further than the boundaries of miniaturization

The electricity to operate small sub-millimeter-scale computers can be provided by producing acceptable batteries or “harvesting” solutions to crank out electric power.

In the area of “harvesting,” micro-thermoelectric turbines, for example, convert warmth to electrical power, but their output electrical power is way too minimal to drive dust-sized chips. Mechanical vibrations are another supply of electrical power for powering tiny-scale equipment. Compact photovoltaic cells that transform light into electrical vitality on small chips are also promising.

On the other hand, light and vibrations are not available at all moments and in all destinations, earning on need operation difficult in a lot of environments. This is also the scenario, for example, in the human overall body, where small sensors and actuators demand a constant ability provide. Effective small batteries would remedy this difficulty.

Having said that, the generation of tiny batteries is extremely unique from their every day counterparts. For illustration, compact batteries with higher vitality density, button cells for occasion, are produced utilizing soaked chemistry. Electrode products and additives (carbon resources and binders) are processed into a slurry and coated on to a metallic foil. On-chip microbatteries produced employing these kinds of common technologies can provide good electricity and electricity density but have a footprint of considerably a lot more than just one square millimeter.

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