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For much of the postwar era, Heinz Nixdorf epitomized the Wirtschaftswunder, Germany's extraordinary recovery from the devastation of war. During his lifetime, he became a legend as the visionary young entrepreneur who had the nerve to challenge the giants of the computer industry. He started out with a moped, a few hand tools and a project. He set up his workshop in the basement of an electric power plant and built it into a one-man global company employing 20000 people. In 1986, at the age of 60, during a company party held at the Hannover Fair, he was struck by a heart attack. During the war, he served on the Eastern Front. Upon his return, he studied four years at Frankfurt University, but decided to leave without earning a degree and to set up his own company. He was toying with the idea of bringing the computer to the office, which was in complete contrast to the strategy of the industry leaders. Yet he prevailed and thereby opened up new markets. The technical knowledge he gradually acquired through years of hard work, allowed him to recognize with incredible ability the value of new and untried ideas and to put them into practice. He had the clairvoyance to reduce complex matters to the simplest possible denominator and to concentrate on what was essential. Once he made a decision, he went ahead, regardless of the consequences. He possessed the characteristics of a dynamic entrepreneur: a willingness to take risks, self-confidence, a pioneering spirit, discipline and motivation to venture into the use of untested technology. Whereas the computer industry was producing mainframes available only to large corporations, he decided to pave the way for decentralized computing by making desktop machines available to small and medium companies. Unencumbered by the electromechanical tradition of the industry, he ventured into new fields of electronics. Nixdorf was an optimist convinced he could overcome any obstacle. His leadership style and the organizational structure and framework which he developed in his company were based on the idea that victory belongs to the bold. He was an unusual executive in that he was not only the manager; he owned the business lock, stock, and barrel. He was convinced that an entrepreneur does not gain legitimacy by the wealth he accumulates, but by the contribution he makes to society. Money was not his driving force. But the memory of the hardships he endured during his early years, the loss of his father during the war and the privations his mother, brothers and sisters had to endure, never left him.
A compiled list of commonly used terms for the various components of harnessing.
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