Billing was born in Salzwedel, in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. After studying mathematics and physics in University of Göttingen he received his doctorate in 1938 in Munich at the age of 24.
On 3 October 1943 he married Anneliese Oetker. Billing has three children: Heiner Erhard Billing (born November 18, 1944 in Salzwedel), Dorit Gerda Gronefeld Billing (born 27 June 1946 in Göttingen) and Arend Gerd Billing (born 19 September 1954 in Göttingen).
According to Billing's memoirs, published by Genscher, Düsseldorf (1997), there was a meeting between Alan Turing and Konrad Zuse. It took place in Göttingen in 1947. The interrogation had the form of a colloquium. Participants were Womersley, Turing, Porter from England and a few German researchers like Zuse, Walther, and Billing. (For more details see Herbert Bruderer, Konrad Zuse und die Schweiz).
He is the designer of the first German sequence-controlled electronic digital computer as well as of the first German stored-program electronic digital computer.
Gravitational wave detector
After transistors had been firmly established, when microelectronics arrived, after scientific computers were slowly overshadowed by commercial applications and computers were mass-produced in factories, Heinz Billing left the computer field in which he had been a pioneer for nearly 30 years.
In 1972, Billing returned to his original field of physics, at the Max Planck Institute's new location at Garching near Munich. Beginning in 1972, Heinz Billing became involved in gravitational physics, when he tried to verify the detection claims made by American physicist Joseph Weber. Weber's results were considered to be proven wrong by these experiments.
In 1975, Billing acted on a proposal by Rainer Weiss from the Massachusetts Institute of technology (MIT) to use laser interferometry to detect gravitational waves. He and colleagues built a 3m prototype Michelson interferometer using optical delay lines. From 1980 onward Billing commissioned the development and construction in MPA in Garching of a laser interferometer with an arm length of 30m. Without the knowledge gained from this prototype, the LIGO project would not have been started when it did.
Heinz Billing: Ein Leben zwischen Forschung und Praxis. Selbstverlag F. Genscher, Düsseldorf 1997.
Heinz Billing: Fast memories for computers and their limitations regarding speed and capacity (Schnelle Rechenmaschinen- speicher und ihre Geschwindigkeits- und Kapazitätsgrenzen). In: IT - Information Technology. Band 50, Heft 5, 2008.
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