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Computers of the USSR

Evgenie Rudometov

The domestic history of development of domestic computer equipment includes many nice pages.

Today computer resources are presented by difficult enough systems of multifunctional assignment. However the beginning of a computer era was necessary in the middle of the XX-th century rather primitive, of course, to present measures, the arrangements created on the basis of electron tubes.

In 1942 the American physicist John Mouchli has presented the own project of the electronic computer – COMPUTER ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer — the electronic numerical integrator and the calculator). In the spring of 1945 it has been constructed for defensive departments, and in February, 1946, 60 years ago, declassified. ENIAC (a photo 1) contained 178468 lamp triodes and 7200 crystalline diodes (the Photo 2), and also 4100 magnetic units. The given COMPUTER occupied space in 300 sq. m and in 1000 times exceeded on high-speed performance relay clones.


The electron tubes presented by vacuum diodes and triodes became element base of the first foreign and domestic COMPUTERS. The first of them contained a calefaction spiral, the cathode and the anode, the second – a calefaction spiral, the cathode, the anode and a grid controlling electron flow, and, therefore, and an anode current.

Photo 2. Lamps ENIAC

In a parallel way with development of element base and perfection shemotehnicheskih solutions development of basic scientific and technical concepts was carried out. So, in 1944 the American engineer John Ekkert has put forward for the first time the concept hranimoj in a program computer memory. And in 1946 John a background Neumann has offered a number of new ideas of the organisation of the COMPUTER which in many features was saved till now.

However implementation of the newest concepts demanded appropriate technical solutions and, of course, element base. And such case was presented for implementators of the COMPUTER. It is linked to opening in the field of semiconductors. Employees Bell Telephone Laboratories John Bardin and Uolter Bremen on December, 23rd, 1947 for the first time have shown the invention which has received the name "transistor" (the Photo 3).

Photo 3. A construction of the first transistor

Giving due to transistor creators, it is necessary to mark, that for long to the American scientists of research in the field of semiconductor electronics our compatriots led. So for example, experimenting the weak-current engineering working at powers to 4В, Russian engineer Losev researched volt-ampere characteristics of the detector from tsinkita and a coal hair (from an old lamp). On January, 13th 1922 it has opened the phenomenon of occurrence of electromagnetic oscillations and effect of their strengthening in the semiconducting crystalline detector. He has detected an incident site of the volt-ampere characteristic in a chip and the first has constructed generating detector. It has allowed to create a radio receiver, capable to accept and strengthen electromagnetic oscillations. The instrument Losev, has created on contact pair of a metal edge and a chip tsinkita (zinc oxide) on which the small power moved. Losev's instrument – the receiver with the generating diode, has become history of semiconductor electronics as "kristadin" (crystalline heterodynes). This opening was not made out by any patents, but has been widely promulgated and in the USSR, and abroad. Losev has gained the world popularity, and kristadiny worked (on a wave 24) on several radio stations of Ministry of Communications (narkompochtelja). It has brought to the author two awards of the ministry — in 1922 and 1925 Kristadiny were made prior to the beginning of 1930th, and have been then superseded by advanced radio tubes. It is remarkable, that continuation of researches in this direction has led to creation in 1958 of the tds, found application in a computer technology of 60th years of the XX-th century. Losev the first has opened also the new phenomenon — a luminescence of chips of carborundum at current passing through the point contact. In 1929 Losev has received the patent of the USSR (№ 12191) on the invention of the light relay. The phenomenon of a luminescence of world pechat1920 th Named Losev's light (Lossew Licht, Losev light, etc.).

As a whole it is necessary to recognise, that the contributor has obviously overtaken time. Imperfection of engineering of physical experiments, absence of the theoretical base linked to the phenomena in semiconductors, have not allowed to develop the reached success. For this reason superiority long time remains behind radio tubes. However time demanded the, and to semiconductors scientists and engineers have returned after the transistor invention. Unfortunately, superiority in this area has got not for ours, and for the American contributors.

After promulgation of results of the invention of the transistor and appearance of the first serial arrangements already after some years the first attempts of development of the computing circuits created on the basis of these units have been undertaken. However, despite the clear advantages of new base units traditional the then of a lamp still long time continued to dominate as a basis of computing circuits.

It is necessary to mark, that appearance of new concepts occurred on all path of perfection of computer equipment. Developed both circuitry, and the software. On this path the world has learnt many nice names. However would be an error to link all reachings only to foreign experts.

Really, the substantiation of principles of construction of the COMPUTER with hranimoj in memory the program has been carried out by Sergey Aleksandrovichem Lebedev (the Photo 4) irrespective of John Neumann's background though this fact is not property of the public. It is linked and to existence of an "iron" curtain, and with privacy of similar operations.

Photo. 4. Sergey Alekseevich Lebedev

As a result of researches led in the USSR rukovodimyj S.A.Lebedev to year the collective in 1948 has developed and has offered the first project of the domestic digital electronic computer. Further under the guidance of academician S.A.Lebedev and V.M.Glushkov variety of domestic COMPUTERS is developed. At first it was MESM – a small electronic accounting machine (1951, Kiev), then computer (the Photo 5) — a high-speed electronic accounting machine (1952, Moscow).

Photo. 5. The computer COMPUTER

As basis of various logical chains of the specified COMPUTERS traditional vacuum radio tubes have served. They were, on-essence, unique accessible to creators of computers units for incarnation of their plans. Therefore there is nothing surprising, as lamps also were promptly perfected (the Photo 6), as well as the COMPUTER architecture.

Photo. 6. An example of a domestic radio tube (the beginning 60х years)

However memory on these units has appeared very expensive. Really, for construction of meshes of an operative information storage it was required to create flip-flop circuits on lamps. For this reason for implementation of memory instead of traditional lamp circuits rather fast began to use various alternative solutions. So, for example, in 1953 on computer dynamic storage on mercury handsets (1024 machine words), similar subjects that used in late modifications ENIAC (the Photo 7) has been tested. In the beginning of 1955 memory began to do on potentsialoskopah (1024 words), and in 1957 — already on ferrirovyh cores (2047 words).

Photo 7. Memory on mercury time delay lines in UNIVAC I (1951)

In a parallel way with MESM and computers were realised COMPUTER "Arrow" bars, "Urals Mountains", "Minsk", "is distributed", "Nairi", a series "M", etc. And it only a small part from many tens names of the realised projects. It is a lot of examples of implementation of reachings of domestic scientists and engineers. Here only some marks of history of development of computers.

1959 – COMPUTER M-40 engineering samples, М-50 for systems of antimissile defence (ABOUT); COMPUTER "Minsk-1" which was applied to solution of engineering, scientific and designer tasks; the first lamp specialised stationary COMPUTER SPEKTR-4 intended for prompting of fighters-interceptors and transportable semiconducting COMPUTER "COURSE" for processing of the radar-tracking information.

Prompt growth of solved tasks and as consequence, complicating of the internal architecture of the COMPUTER demanded the new base units, capable to substitute rather expensive, volume, energozatratnye a radio tube. And the domestic industry has fulfilled the government order. Practically simultaneously with the West there was a semiconducting branch. As well as the radio tubes, new computer units also were fast evolved. As a result at a certain stage in the list of domestic COMPUTERS there were the models created already on transistors (the Photo 8).

Photo 8. Domestic transistors (1956)

1960 – first semiconducting controlling computer "Dnepr" and first microprogram specialised COMPUTER "Bowstring" for air defence system.

1961 serial release Of COMPUTER "is distributed" of small productivity (to 5 thousand op/sek), the scientific and technical for solution scientific and technical and engineering tasks.

1962 the computer-4 COMPUTER; “МППИ-1”, created in Severodonetsk scientific research institute of controlling computers for chemical, oil refining, metallurgical, etc. industries; the set of small computers "Промiнь" for automation of engineering calculations of average complexity; COMPUTER "Minsk-2".

1963 – the multimachine complex "Minsk-222".

1964 – COMPUTER "Urals Mountains" number.

1965 – computer-6 – the first in the USSR of the super-computer with productivity of 1 million op/sek, all to the beginning of 80th it has been constructed about 350 copies; semiconducting COMPUTERS M-220 and М-222, released in Kazan, continuing a line of COMPUTER M-20 and possessing productivity to 200 thousand op/second

1966 – end of development of the project of mainframe "Ukraine" which has anticipated many ideas of the American mainframes of 70th years.

1969 – 5Э92Б – the dual-processor computer on the semiconductors, become by the main computer in the first system ABOUT Moscow.

Table 1. Basic performances of some models of the COMPUTER of a first generation





Urals Mountains-1






The data representation form

From a floating point

About a fix. And plav. A comma

With plav. A comma

With plav. A comma

Length of a machine word, dv.razrjadov





High-speed performance, thousand op/with





Size of the working memory, words





Table 2. Basic performances of some models of the COMPUTER of the second generation


Urals Mountains-16







1 and 2

1 and 3

The data representation form

About a fix. A comma

About a fix. And plav. A comma

About a fix. And plav. A comma

With plav. A comma

Length of a machine word, dv.razrjadov




45 and 48

High-speed performance, thousand op/with


To 65

To 65

To 1000

Size of the working memory, words




As follows from the resulted data, of course, incomplete, in the USSR the grandiose program on development, release and application of the electronic computers created on the basis of exclusively domestic accessories has been carried out. In programs of development, release and COMPUTER application the domestic developments made irrespective of foreign colleagues, as a rule, took root. Thus the most powerful models have been used for needs of defence, that, in general, in the conditions of an unfriendly, aggressive surrounding has been justified.

It is necessary to underline, that contrary to existing public opinion, domestic COMPUTERS did not concede in many cases to foreign clones. So, for example, COMPUTER MESM created in 1950 was during that moment of the most high-speed in Europe.

Many original developments essentially anticipated foreign and on advantage have been estimated by foreign colleagues. As an example it is possible to result the computer-6 COMPUTER (the Photo 9), created on transistors.

Photo 9. The computer-6 COMPUTER

Originality and perspectivity of the used solutions in the architecture of the COMPUTER of computer-6 quite often were marked in public statements by coryphaeuses of computer sciences. In this COMPUTERS have been used the virtual storage and asynchronous pipeline structures. In addition to it, in 70th years M.A.Kartsev in the world has offered for the first time and realised the concept completely the parallel computing system with multisequencing of programs, commands, data and words. These ideas have been embodied in one more super-computer – М-10, and 1978 the project of vektorno-pipeline COMPUTER M-13 has been developed.

Further, in process of national economy development, the requirement for computer technology products increased. For the purpose of the extension of their release standardization attempt shemotehnicheskih solutions has been made. It became possible thanks to successes of the electronic industry which has mastered at first hybrid, and then and monolithic chips. Further already after the invention engineers of the corporation of Intel of the microprocessor had been adjusted release of similar units at domestic firms.

Realising possibilities of electronic industry, the Soviet scientists and engineers have adjusted release of the COMPUTER of a new generation. Thus for a basis of serial COMPUTERS the best samples of foreign engineering, for example, the bar of powerful COMPUTERS of IBM – a series 360 and 370 have been taken. Accordingly, domestic COMPUTERS of uniform system (EU) have received names "Ряд-1" and "Ряд-2". Have Not been forgotten and controlling computers. This class of small computers – COMPUTER SM has been created on the basis of models of HP corporations and DEC. Here some dates and examples of products of that time.

1971 – EU-1020 models (20 thousand op/sek).

1973 – EU-1030 models (100 thousand op/sek); on the basis of computer-6 for handle tasks space flights had been created multimachine complexes; release of the COMPUTER of EU-1050 (Moscow, Penza) and high-performance machine M-10 with mnogoformatnoj the vector RISC-architecture for systems ABOUT.

1974 – EU-1022 models, (80 thousand op/sek).

1976 – EU-1033 models (200 thousand op/sek).

1975 – the USSR, NRB, VNR, PNR, CHSSR and GDRs have developed mini computer SM-1 (the Photo 10), СМ-2, СМ-3 and СМ-4, used in scientific projects, in management systems tehprotsessami etc .

1977 – high model from "Ряд-1" – EU-1060; EU-1035 model ("Ряд-2"); the first symmetric multiprocessor computer complex (MVK) "Elbrus-1".

1978 – EU-1055.

1979 – EU-1045 model (800 thousand op/sek, "Ряд-2"); multiprocessor UVK with the rebuilt structure PS 2000, realising multisequencing at level of tasks, branches, vector and scalar operations in tasks of geophysics, research experiments, etc. areas.

1980 – EU-1061 COMPUTER; dual-processor СМ-1410 complex.

1981 – UVK SM 1800, SM 1803, SM 1804.

1982 – private computers (PEVM they the PC) EU-1840.

1983 – EU-1036 (400 thousand op/sek, "Ряд-3"); multiprocessor vector COMPUTER M-13 and the first samples of home computer "Electronics BK0010" with the command system borrowed mini computer CM-3 and СМ-4.

1985 – EU-1066; multiprocessor (10 processors) the complex "Elbrus-2" (125 million op/sek).

1986 – UVK SM 1810, SM 1814, SM 1820, IBM-compatible PC; the COMPUTER of SM 1700 compatible with VAX-11 of Digital Equipment Corp corporation, and the COMPUTER of EU 1766 (to 256 processors).

1994 – the complex "Elbrus-3" created with application of chips of processing techniques LSI, ECL, etc., contained 16 processors and was twice proizvoditelnee CRAY-YMP. The complex has been made, but in a series has not been started. It has been linked by that complexity of the used perspective solutions in many respects overtook possibilities of element base that has led to high cost of the complex which for comprehensible levels of dependability and stability of operation demanded special conditions of service.

Certainly, computer technology development with a stress on foreign samples has a little braked own developments. Operations on perfection of the perspective bar of computer – computer-8 and BESM-10 have been as a result curtailed. It was possible to expect real break in this area. However the history, as is known, does not know a subjunctive mood.

As arguments of expediency of the selected path it is possible to result, for example, software problems (ON) and standardization of sites and units. Besides, on a choice of paths of development of a domestic computer technology the influence was rendered also by subjective factors. As affirms as a number of memoirs, a number of leading experts promised to the country leaders at the expense of loan of foreign experience fast doubling of gross national product. The matter is that copying allowed to save enormous financial assets at the expense of lowering of expenditures on researches and developments in the field of circuitry and writing of the appropriate software. So, for example, cost original ON for IBM360 was estimated by its implementators in $25 billion that corresponds, for example, costs of the American program of flight on the Moon. However, orientation to the western experience carried on to the backlog linked with process of copying, translation and documentation release, and also to difficulties of the subsequent mastering without the necessary technical help.

As to development of element base the domestic electronic industry has received quite explainable jerk. There were institutes and KB, factories were under construction, chips were released. Many chips and sites were duplicated.

Nevertheless, without domestic developments to manage it was impossible. To recollect problems of defensive departments enough. Possibly, to it that attention which was given to powerful multiprocessor complexes of type "М-10" and "Elbrus" also speaks.

Did not remain without attention and personal computers. In short period the PC of series of EU, SM, "Spark" have been developed and released. The first models of a steel of EU-1040, СМ1810, "Искра-1030". Their architecture has been in many respects copied from foreign clones of type of IBM PC.

Besides, the sector of computers of the architecture and DEC corporation command system actively developed. As an example it is possible to result the PC of bars DVK and "Electronics". Considerably smaller distribution was received by appropriate clones of HP corporation.

The specified policy has allowed to borrow the foreign software. Besides, for the PC of architectures and command systems DEC and HP there were compatible mini computers, for example, СМ-3, СМ-4 and СМ-1 (the Photo 10), СМ-2.

Photo 10. Mini computer CM-1 and M6000

However mastering of foreign experience was not reduced to simple copying of the best samples of a computer technology and carrying over of programs. The matter is that, a basis of domestic computers of a steel of a chip and microprocessors, commercially available in the USSR. It has been linked to questions of saving of currency resources, and also safety of the state. In the conditions of an unfriendly surrounding dependence in supply by accessories was inadmissible. Besides, was available (and till now there is) a danger of electronic "bookmarks" special services of potential opponents.

Certainly, in domestic developments far not all chips were own development. Used both domestic experience, and foreign. Research of microprocessors of known corporations has been adjusted. There was a KB where poslojno scanned chips of chips. On the basis of results there were own models. Certainly, the channels of the investigation which has done huge, necessary operation have been involved also.

However there were also industrial limitations. The matter is that existing gosty are oriented to metric system, and among computer accessories the inch scale dominates. This problem concerns not only tanks and cards, but also chips, including a travel of contact. As a result engineers even in the presence of samples had to project the products anew. It is necessary to add, that there was a limitation and on usage of precious metals that complicated release of reliable products. As the result, at rather big assortment of domestic PCs their circulation was modest enough. So, for example, release of computers "Искра-1030", including modifications, made all some thousand pieces a year. To one of the most mass became "Электроника-60", but also its release made about 10 thousand pieces a year. However, thanks to a computerisation of national education computers of type "Electronics BK0010" and "Electronics BK0011" which has become by a basis of educational classes КУВТ-86 and КУВТ-87, were released hundreds thousand. By the way, "Electronics BK0010" and "Electronics BK0011" became the first mass home computers.

It is necessary to underline, that, despite mass copying, there were also domestic developments. Some ideas obviously overtook foreign scientific thought. As examples it is possible to result the partitioned microprocessors and even RISK-processors. By the way, ideas of such processors have been in details formulated long before foreign publications. Moreover, in the seventieth years there was a project of release of domestic computers with RISK-processors forces of one of foreign corporations. Thus the corporation incurred not only production of computers, but also marketing, and implementation. However the project has encountered the numerous departmental negotiations which have occupied of some years. As a result time has been missed, and the world has not seen the advanced development promising milliard incomes, and in the market less perfect foreign clones were established.

It is necessary to add, that a firmware in the world it was carried out by so fast rates, that simply blind copying has quickly enough lost sense. Without support of domestic implementators the country has been doomed to constant and escalating backlog. As a result suffered not only economy, but also safety of the state.

Solving this hard problem, in the seventieth, and then once again in the eightieth years of the Central Committee of the CPSU and Ministerial council of the USSR have set for Academy of sciences of the USSR the task to analyze a situation and to produce appropriate guidelines. The result of these efforts has been issued in the form of a number of the reports published in opened, accessible, though also specialised issuings.

The main sense of the guidelines formulated in the seventieth years and confirmed in eightieth, can be formulated is short in two positions.

To catch up and overtake the developed countries it is practically impossible, as for this purpose there will be no state resources (not only the USSR, but even richer). As to a policy of development step-by-step integration into process of world production with consecutive mastering at first rather simple arrangements is represented to the most expedient, and then and step-by-step transition to technological difficult products.

Unfortunately, given results have been subjected criticism and in due course correct outputs have not been made. The subsequent years modifications and state corruptings, and, therefore, both links between departments and firms, only have aggravated problems with electronic and computer branches. Existing rate and many original developments have been irrevocably lost. Moreover, many leading experts have left the country and have located in the largest western companies, having enriched with their results of domestic researches.

However development and safety of the state are impossible without development of own branches of high technologies. In spite of the fact that to the positions of Academy of sciences resulted above it was executed already three ten years, their value from it has not varied. As overdue implementation it is possible to consider step-by-step revival of domestic electronic industry. Operation of some KB was restored, in the market there were the chips created domestic and joint ventures. They fulfilled on well debugged processing techniques on dependability and stability of operation are quite competitive products. Excellence and the attractive prices of these chips, a part from which is released at factories situated near Moscow former Soviet a silicon valley, does their claimed not only in the domestic market, but foreign, including the markets of the advanced states.

Used procedure while, as a rule, does not operate with scales less than 0,25 microns. But development in the given area is carried out by fast rates and existing disrupture decreases.

However existing while backlog does not mean the termination of developments in the field of superdifficult chips and the subsequent construction on their basis of original systems. Existing possibilities of the world integration allow to use possibilities of foreign productions.

As an example, it is possible to result release with usage of foreign processing techniques of domestic SPARC-compatible general-purpose processor MTSST R500 (the Photo 11), 450-500 MHz functioning on frequency at power teploobrazovanija less than 2 W. This processor made with application of norms of 0,13 microns tehprotsessa with 8 metallization layers, is a computer complex basis "Elbrus 90-mikro", working under control of OS "Solaris" and "Linux". On the basis of this processor some models of computer complexes Elbrus-90 mikro different konstruktivov, including PС are released.

The architecture Elbrus-90 mikro in konstruktive PC is resulted on the Photo 12.

One more success of domestic scientists and engineers is release within the limits of the project "Elbrus" of engineering samples of the processor (the Photo 11), the containing 50 million transistors and developed in Joint-Stock Company "МЦСТ" on original, not having clones, EPIC architecture (the architecture of obvious parallelism).

Photo 11. Processors MTSST R500 and Elbrus

Table 3. Key parametres MTSST R500 and Elbrus




Year of development



Design rules, nanometer



Clock rate, MHz



Digit capacity




450MIPS, 170MIPS

1-2 billion op/with, peak – to 6 billion

Quantity of transistors, million



proshchad a chip, mm



Photo 12. The architecture Elbrus-90 mikro in konstruktive PC

But release of separate accessories does not settle successes of domestic engineers and scientists. Integrating domestic and foreign experience in the developments, they create new architectures which realise in appropriate developments. So, for example, in the course of realisation of joint projects by the Russian and Belarus experts a number of multiprocessor supercomputers has been created.

Exponentation of a new semiconducting factory in Nizhni Novgorod which will make slices in diameter of 300 mm can become result of cooperation of Russia with Malaysian company Kedah Group, predictably. Capacities can provide release to 30 thousand 8 and 12-inch silicon slices a month. From a Russian side plans to select for construction of a factory $700 million dollars. Typical investments into high-grade 300 mm make production of an order of 3 billion dollars.

While the given factory, as well as many other things, is only the project, though also quite realizable. It is possible to believe, that the given schedules will not lay down under cloth, and are realised. For now the emphasis in semiconducting firms becomes on own forces. So, in mass-media there were messages, that the part of investment fund of Russia derivated, mainly, at the expense of sale of hydrocarbonic energy carriers, and estimated approximately in 150 bln. dollars, is planned to spend for financing of building of a factory on production of semiconducting production. Unlike the existing domestic firms of the similar profile using mainly 180 and 250 nanometers tehprotsessy, new production will be oriented to more modern standards — 45 nanometers and 65 nanometers of norm and 300 mm of a slice. For project implementation it has been decided to involve company SITRONIKS (Sitronics) — one of leading suppliers of solutions in sphere of telecommunications, information technologies and microelectronics in Russia, the CIS countries and with growing presence in Central and the Eastern Europe, in the Near East and in Africa. As the second side of the transaction the government of Russia appears. The arrangement on allocation of actions between partners in the ratio 51 % and 49 %, accordingly is already reached. It is expected, that the total amount of investments will make about 2,3 billion US dollars. Transaction carrying out has been approved by the Ministry of economic development and trade of the Russian Federation. To start factory building it is planned in January, 2008, equipment by the equipment and adjusting should be led within 2009 , and production activation is planned for October of the same year.

The resulted examples testify to step-by-step revival of the Russian computer industry on which path of development it is a lot of obstacles.

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