History of informatics - Munich milestones


is considered the year that informatics became an academic field at TUM. In the winter semester of 1967/1968, the university began offering a branch of study within the Department of Mathematics called “Information Processing.” Prof. Friedrich L. Bauer initiated a two-semester lecture “Introduction to Information Processing” for 30 enrolled students, together with Prof. Klaus Samelson, who began his lecture cycle in 1968/69.This second lecture cycle was called “Introduction to Informatics”.


A seminar sponsored by the NATO Science Committee and organized by Prof. Friedrich L. Bauer was held in Garmisch on the topic of “Software Engineering,” a term created by Bauer that influenced this field of work. The seminar managed to create global awareness of the issues surrounding the still relatively nascent field of software engineering. Researchers, teachers and the computer industry subsequently demonstrated increasing efforts to explore and systematize it.


A special committee on “Informatics” (Prof. Friedrich L. Bauer and colleagues) convened by the president of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education in Germany approved a framework for the Diplom examination. Official approval did not take place until February 1973, however. In April 1969, the Informatics program moved into a building referred to as the “Southeast building”, later known as the Robert Sauer building.


In the first half of the decade, computers began to take private homes by storm, especially children’s rooms. With the C 64 developed by Commodore, a new generation of personal computers and games, like Atari, began to supplant the game consoles and arcade machines that had so far dominated the market. During the same decade, hardware and software engineering and the use of informatics in fields of application grew in importance. Informatics engineering methods were used not only in the development of processes and tools for computer use, but also for the development of natural sciences, engineering and medical applications.


25 years earlier, the Department of Mathematics was renamed the Department of Mathematics and Informatics. In the anniversary year 1992, two separate departments were created: the Department of Mathematics and the Department of Informatics. Rising university enrollments, in addition to a job market in desperate need of more computer scientists, meant that by 1992 the number of departments devoted solely to the study of informatics had grown to around a dozen. Later came Chairs within the department devoted to specific applications within the fields of medicine, graphics and life sciences.

1992 was also the inaugural of the F.L. Bauer award sponsored by TUM, which was established to recognize scientists for excellence in informatics at an international level. The first recipient was Zohar Manna (Stanford University) for his work in the area of programming semantics.


Having outgrown the old building in Munich’s Gabelsbergerstrasse, the Department of Mathematics and the Department of Informatics were relocated to TUM’s Garching campus in the summer of 2002. According to Hans Zehetmair, then Bavarian Minister of Science, the move represented “a milestone in the evolution of Garching as a top-notch international campus for natural sciences and engineering.” Beginning with the 2005/2006 winter semester, the TUM Department of Informatics became one of the first in Germany to convert completely to bachelor’s and master’s system in line with the Bologna Process.

2010 to today

Close ties have always existed between the TUM Department of Informatics and software companies and users in the finance, telecommunications, electronics, automobile, aerospace and automation technology industries. The department helped to drive the issue of “software in the automobile” to international prominence. Apart from software engineering, today its research activities focus on distributed parallel supercomputing, distributed intelligent systems, scientific computing, theoretical informatics, knowledge-based systems and robotics, information systems, bioinformatics and informatics in medicine. With more than 5000 students, the TUM Department of Informatics is the university’s largest and consistently ranks as the top department in international rankings.