|COMPUTER PIONEERS OF CIS COUNTRIES
Malinovsky B. N. The V.M. Glushkov Institute of Cybernetics,
The first computers were intended basically for military
purposes. The inherent secrecy of this work thus brought a great
disconnection among the scientists of the world and caused
parallelism in research (as opposed to scientific
collaboration). This has left its mark on the objectivity and
completeness of computer history. It is still full of
"blank spaces". Quite a number of outstanding
scientists still have not received their due in the world of
computer history and development. This is of particular concern
to the scientists of the former Soviet Union.
In 1995, the book "Computer pioneers" by J.A.N.Lee,
Information Technology scientist at the Virginia Polytechnic
Institute (USA), was published. This book contains more than two
hundred biographies of computer pioneers from all over the
world. But, of the many outstanding scientists from the former
USSR, this book mentioned only two: V.M. Glushkov and A.P.
Ershov. Whereas it is possible to note the names of, at least,
25-30 outstanding Soviet scientists who were real computer
The report is devoted to the life and creative work of the
prominent scientists S.A. Lebedev, I.S. Brook, B.I. Rameev, V.M.
Glushkov, M.A. Kartzev, H.Y. Matuhin, N.P. Brusentsov, I.Y.
Acushsky. Due to their efforts and enormous self-sacrifice in
the work they guided, the Soviet Union in 50 to 60 years became
one of the world's leaders in computer development. Computer
technology in USSR in this period developed in its own way,
based on the outstanding scientific results of its computer
They were contemporaries of well-known to all world computer
pioneers: von Neumann, J. Atanasoff, H. Aiken, J. Mauchly, K.
Zuse, A. Turing, M. Wilkes and others. Nevertheless, because of
the Iron Curtain, the "Cold War" and the secrecy of
their work, their names were largely unknown in the West. Now,
the outstanding results of their creativity should at last
become an appreciable page in world history.
In the first blush of science and technological development
after World War II, appeared a unique cluster of quite gifted
Soviet scientists: Kurchatov, Korolev, Keldish, Lebedev and many
others. They provided the main impetus and direction for
science, engineering and particularly, the creation and
development of computers. Actually, the appearance of the
computer enabled the execution of brilliant projects in the
field of space exploration, nuclear energy, rocketry and so on.
In the rate of industrial development after World War II, the
Soviet Union outstripped all countries in the world except
The founder of the native computer industry was academician S.A.
Lebedev. S.A. Lebedev was born on November 2, 1902 in the town
Nigniy Novgorod. By the time he was 45 years of age he was a
well-known expert in energy systems. His book "Stability of
Parallel Work of Electrical Systems " (co-author A.S.Gdanov)
was reprinted in many countries. And the research he carried out
required the creation of enormous computer facilities and the
computerisation of bulky accounts. Since the forties, this has
been the main Lebedev's work.
In parallel with American and English scientists at the end of
forties, he developed the main principles of construction and
structure of electronic digital computers. Under his management
in 1948-1950, the first stored program computer in Ukraine,
Soviet Union and continental Europe was created. In 1951-1953,
this computer (MESM) solved very important problems from
thermonuclear engineering, rocketry, space flights, long
distance electrical transmission and so on.
The following twenty years, after his move from Kiev to Moscow,
saw him develop fifteen high-performance types of computers.
Each of them was the latest word in computer technology - more
productive, reliable and convenient in operation (BESM, BESM 2,
BESM 4, BESM6, M-20, M-40, M-50 and others).
During that period, one can find no level of creativity
comparable to his in Western world, neither in the USA nor in
Europe. All the computers created under Lebedev's supervision
(from electronic tubes to integral circuitry base) were
manufactured and used in computer centers of large
scientific-research institutions as well as in anti-missile
systems of the Soviet Union.
From the early stages of creative activity, S.A. Lebedev put
forward and in subsequent years consistently realized the basic
ideas for supercomputer construction, i.e. the paralleling of
the computing process. In the first computers, he used for this
purpose parallel arithmetic units, then concurrent work of
mainframes and later on - pipeline algorithms and structures,
The German philosopher Frederick Nietzsche stated that:
"Being good at defining the direction is a sign of
genius". This quotation is used as epigraph in the book
about S.A. Lebedev.
Hundreds of highly skilled specialists and engineers gained
valuable experience in Lebedev's institute and have become
famous scientists, chiefs of scientific research centers, and
designers of new computers (academicians Melnikov, Burtsev,
Rjabov, Ivannikov, Doctors Sokolov, Tjapkin and many others).
The institute established by Lebedev continues the work of
creating modem super-computers in our time.
It is worth mentioned another prominent computer scientist of
that same period, academician Isaak Brook and his famous pupils,
N. Matjuhin and M. Kartsev. Isaak Brook was born in Minsk on the
8th of November 1902 (the same year as Lebedev). Like Lebedev,
Brook began his career working on problems of energy systems. In
1948, together with B. Rameev, Brook designed the first computer
project in the Soviet Union and got the first patent on a
computer with a Unibus. Under Brook's supervision, the M-1, the
first stored program computer in the Russian Federation was
created. The M-1 was put into operation in 1952, two or three
months after the MESM in Kiev. For the first time, it used
semiconductor diodes instead of electronic tubes, a two-level
address command system and teletype for data output.
Under direction of Brook and active participation of Kartsev and
Matjuhin the M2 (1953) and M3 (1956) were created. The latter
became the initial model for a popular family of computers,
MINSK (G. Lopato, V. Prjyalkovsky ).
The first prototype of the M-2 computer was manufactured and put
into operation a little bit later than BESM, with comparable
performance. It was maintained at the Institute of Energy for
more than 15 years. Matjuhin, who was the chief designer of the
M-2, later on became the chief designer of the family of
computers and complexes for anti-aircraft systems. Under his
leadership, 10 types of computers for such systems were
developed. The first used semiconductors, the later ones,
integral circuitry. Both functioned reliably for antiaircraft
systems. In 1986, the system detected the Rust aeroplane, though
the decision to enable the system was denied and the plane
landed at Red Square.
The powerful computers M-4, M-10 and M-13, created under
Kartsev's supervision, were responsible for multi-computer
complexes for outerspace control and for missile-attack warning
systems. Although the M-10 was slightly slower than the American
supercomputer Cray-1, it surpassed the Gray-1 in versatility,
inherent in its architecture: the number of cycles for one
operation for M-10 was from 0.9 up to 5.3 (for the whole
spectrum of operations) while the Cray-1 was from 0.7 to 27.6.
From the computers developed by Kartsev's Institute was created
the largest in the USSR multicomputer complex. This complex
consisted of 76 computers which were connected by ten thousands
kilometers of information channels working at uniform algorithm.
In multiprocessor system of the fourth generation M-13 an
equivalent speed of special purpose system processors was more
than 2 billion operations per second.
Kartsev realized the conception of multiformat vector structure
and absolutely parallel computing structure that enabled it to
solve complicated problems requiring super- performance
computers. M.Karsev is the author of fundamental theoretical
works. He wrote four monographs on the fundamentals of computer
arithmetic and computer architecture.
Although Kartsev is not mentioned amongst the computer pioneers
of the Lee book, undoubtedly he was and remains a remarkable
figure in the history of world computer science and engineering.
It should also be mentioned that while Lebedev and his group
ensured the development of supercomputers, computer technology
more widely used was designed by B.I. Rameev in provincial Penza.
Rameev had no possibility to get a higher education because his
father was punished by Stalin's regime (later on he was
rehabilitated). Nevertheless, due to his outstanding abilities,
Rameev became chief designer of the "Ural" family of
computers. These computers were inexpensive and were widely used
at the former Soviet Union's computer centers. Under Rameev's
management, a whole family of special purpose computers were
developed, as well as about 100 peripheral devices.
It is also worth mentioned here that Rameev was the deputy of
U.Y. Basilevsky, who was the chief designer of the first
manufactured computer, "Strela", that appeared
simultaneously with IBM 701. Rameev was also the first in the
USSR to formulate and realize in the Ural-11,-14 and 16
computers, the principle of programming and hardware
compatibility. He formulated this important idea one and a half
years before the production of the IBM 360 - software and
hardware compatible computers. It's a pity, but his name is also
practically unknown in the West.
As for V.M. Glushkov, of course he deserved to be included among
the computer pioneers. He was born on 24th of August 1923 in the
south of Russia. The name of Glushkov in the history of
development of computer technique is connected first of all with
the development of the theory of computer design in his
well-known books, "The Theory of Digital Automation",
"Introduction to Cybernetics" and so on. The next very
important part of his work in this field in 50's and 60's were
his investigations in the field of control computers and
computers with high inner intellect.
Under his guidance, a series of specialized computers for
engineering calculations, the MIR-1, MIR-2 and MIR-3 were
designed and became the forerunners of personal computers.
The Kiev Cybernetics Institute was founded and guided by
Glushkov. It was at the time the one of the well-known computer
institutes in the Soviet Union and very quickly gained
international recognition. The crowning achievement of
Glushkov's work was undoubtedly the creation of the ES-1766 (macropipeline)
supercomputer, which had no analogue in the world at the time.
In the 60's and 70's, the computer industry in the Soviet Union
manufactured more than fifteen types of computers, designed at
the Institute of Cybernetics (Promin, MIR-1, MIR-2, MIR-3,
Dnieper, Dnieper 2, Neva, Iskra 125, Pirs and others).
"The scientific works of Glushkov and the practical results
of his research for many years will have an influence on the
development of computer science all over the world",
according to H. Zemanek, an eminent computer design scientist
In July 1970 in England, a forum entitled "The Fundamental
School of Computer Technology Pioneers who have Created its Past
and will Form the Future" was held. Only eight countries
were invited to participate, including the Soviet Union and
particularly represented by Ukraine. This would suggest that the
Ukrainian contribution to Computer Technology has been
Besides "classical" computer facilities developed by
the scientific schools of Lebedev, Brook, Rameev and Glushkov,
significant contributions were made by N.Brusentsov in 1958,
with a computer using the ternary notation system "Setun"
and by I.Akushsky also in 1958 who developed the first and
probably the only world special computer using notation in
There are a number of other designers in the field of universal,
on-board computersincluding V. Polin, Y. Hetagurov, V. Levin, S.
Majorov, V. Smolov, A. Larionov, V. Prjiyalkovsky, B. Kagan, and
others, but their description is beyond the scope of this
The Iron Curtain has fallen and the time has come to fill in the
"blank spaces" in the list of world computer pioneers.
Малиновский Б.Н. "История
вычислительной техники в лицах",
This book was published by order of the International Charitable
Foundation for the History and Development of Computer Scien and