Konrad Zuse built the Z1, a mechanical programmable computing machine, between 1935/36 and 1937/38. The Z1 was a binary floating-point computing device. The individual logical gates were constructed using metallic plates and interconnection rods. This paper describes the design principles Zuse followed in order to complete a complex calculating machine, as the Z1 was. Zuse called his basic switching elements "mechanical relays" in analogy to the electrical relays used in telephony.