Thursday, November 10, 2005

Soviet computer industry

Few tidbits from a presentation by Alexander Galitsky that I wanted to write down:
  1. The Soviet industry was pretty advanced, but most of it was for space and defence. If you are building a computer for a space station, you don't need to mass-produce a chip: just a few good ones will do. Radiation-hardening is important though.
  2. In later stages they mostly used reference designs available from the libraries, although some people present still believed they copied chips layer-by-layer.
  3. Initially there was a lot of original research, but then there was a decision to just copy IBM. "No one gets fired for buying IBM" worked in Soviet Union too! (Only s/buying/stealing/)
  4. They copied chip designs because they didn't want to invest in software! I thought the hardware was the bottleneck, but apparently no.
  5. The language of choice of the Soviet space and defense indsutry was Modula-2.
  6. In 1980s some portion of Soviet defense network standardized on Unix and TCP/IP.
Don Knuth asked two questions; the second one was about mass storage.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I seem to recall hearing
Andrey Ershov say that
"One of the West's greatest victories in the Cold War was the introduction of Fortran in the Soviet Union."qxcex

6:22 PM  

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