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Centenary of the birth of Wim Klein, CERN's first computer
27.08.2021 Cian O'Luanaigh
Mathematics
Willem Klein

Before electronic computers were widely available at CERN, a Dutchman called Willem "Wim" Klein performed astonishing feats of mental arithmetic to help colleagues with their calculations. Klein, who through his long career became known as "The Human Computer," was born in Amsterdam in the Netherlands 100 years ago today.

Before joining CERN, Klein earned a living as an entertainer, showing off his mathematical prowess in circuses across Europe, using the stage names of Pascal and Willy Wortel. He joined CERN's Theory Division in 1958, where he was in considerable demand as a calculator in the days before the first electronic computers became widely available.

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