Heinz Nixdorf (1925-1986)

No name is linked so closely to the development of the German computer industry as that of Heinz Nixdorf. In 1952, in a sector that was already dominated by large enterprises, he founded a company which, under his management, was to become the fourth largest computer company in Europe. His life is not just an example of the energy and innovative skills of entrepreneurs who contributed to the post-war "economic miracle" in Germany. From the mid-1960s, he built computers of a size that also enabled small and medium-sized businesses to make the transition from conventional forms of office organization to electronic data processing. His concept for introducing computer technology to the workplace for the benefit of users made Heinz Nixdorf the pioneer of decentralized data processing, the 820 office computer being his first great success.

Formative years of childhood

Heinz Nixdorf was born in Paderborn in 1925, and grew up under difficult economic circumstances. His father's unemployment and early death and the financial restrictions that this imposed on the family were child-hood experiences which not only influenced his education and career but also his subsequent entrepreneurship.

Economic success and social responsibility

Heinz Nixdorf had all the characteristics of a dynamic entrepreneur as described by the economist Schumpeter: self-confidence, pioneering spirit, willingness to take risks, discipline and the will to succeed.

His constant struggle to promote his company's growth meant more to him than aiming for profits. The company was his life's work, and the chance to help shape society. This is why he always considered the creation of jobs to be the prime duty of an entrepreneur.

In addition to depicting his main task of running the company profitably, the exhibition shows other aspects of his self-image as an entrepreneur: as an employer with social responsibility and architectural ambitions who created a corporate identity throughout all his buildings. In 1960, Heinz Nixdorf married Renate Ring, and together they had three sons. In his spare time, Heinz Nixdorf was a keen sportsman throughout his life. Here, too, competition and achievement were important to him. He turned his pastime - sailing - into a competitive sport, and also achieved top performances in this field.