When Heinz Nixdorf began his studies at Johann-Wolfgang-von-Goethe University in Frankfurt in 1947, his talent in the fields of science and mathematics was already apparent. He studied physics and later became interested in management.
In 1951, while a student working at Remington Rand Corporation in Frankfurt, Nixdorf proposed that he and physicist Dr. Walter Sprick form a company that would manufacture and sell multiplication and calculating machines. Sprick declined the offer, but the 26-year old Nixdorf was not deterred. He offered to create the simple accounting device for the largest power utility in Germany. Funded with $6,000 and operating from a basement workshop, Nixdorf built counting equipment which could be connected to punch card machines. One year later he founded the Laboratory for Pulse Technology to develop and produce electronic and mechanical parts and systems for German and international manufacturers of office equipment.
Success came quickly, and Nixdorf developed an electronic computer using cathode ray tubes. This was followed by an accounting machine with an electronic multiplication unit, an electronic desk calculator with printer, and a minicomputer using semiconductors. Wanderer-Werke became his principal customer, but in 1968, envisioning the potential of transistors for rapid data manipulation, Nixdorf bought Wanderer-Werke and with the Laboratory for Pulse Technology, founded Nixdorf Computer AG with headquarters in Paderborn.
Extensive company development began with independent research and development, manufacturing, and sales activities. Nixdorf expanded to the United States, increased manufacturing facilities in Paderborn, and created a new production center.
By 1979 over 70,000 Nixdorf computer systems were installed world-wide. Two years later the company brought forth IBM compatibles and in 1982 launched Germany’s first digital telephone system. Nixdorf employs 16,000 in 12 German companies and 60 foreign affiliates. Its sales are approaching $1 billion. From humble beginnings in a cellar in Frankfurt, Heinz Nixdorf has built his company into a leader among international computer manufacturers.