Professor Kozma’s relay-system computer
László Kozma (1902-1983) was an electrical engineer who basically dealt with telephone exchanges, but by 1930s, he was also building calculators while living in Belgium. During the World War he returned to Hungary, but because of his Jewish origins he was deported to the concentration camp of Mauthausen. After the war the Stalinist regime prosecuted him (in a show trial) and he spent several years in prison. In the second half of the 1950s he was appointed to a professorship at the Budapest University of Technology, where he built the first Hungarian electro-mechanical computer called MESZ-1 in 1958. (The abbreviation stands for Műegyetemi Számológép = The Technical University Calculator). The machine was used for educational purposes for ten years. It had a relay-based construction not yet based on the Neumann-principle. The control program was punched on a piece of celluloid plate used for lung-examinations. The output device of the computer was a cleverly modified old Mercedes Electra electric typewriter; the results were printed by this. Professor Kozma’s computer was the birth of computer technology in Hungary. The machine was offered by the professor himself to the predecessor of the Hungarian Museum for Science, Technology and Transport. Since then it has been preserved in the Study-store of the Museum. For Hungarian people it has similar value to Konrad Zuse’s computers in Deutsches Museum has for German visitors.
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