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About this book

This book consitutes the refereed post-conference proceedings of the IFIP WG 9.7 International Workshop on the History of Computing, HC 2018, Held at the 24th IFIP World Computer Congress, WCC 2018, in Poznań, Poland, in September 2018.
The 16 revised full papers were carefully reviewed and selected from 20 submissions. They reflect academic approaches to history along with the expertise of museum and other public history professionals as well as the experience of computingand information science practitioners. The papers are organized in the following sections: Eastern Europe, Poland, Soviet Union, CoCom and Comecon; analog computing, and public history.

Table of Contents


Eastern Europe


Armenian Computers: First Generations

Armenia was one of the leading centers of Soviet electronic and computer industry. The first in the USSR semiconductor computer, Razdan-2, was designed and built in Armenia in 1960. Armenian computers of the Nairi series for a decade were one of the main calculating facilities of Soviet scientists and engineers. This article is about the first period of the development of Armenian computer technology.
Sergey B. Oganjanyan, Valery V. Shilov, Sergey A. Silantiev

The Emergence of Computing Disciplines in Communist Czechoslovakia: What’s in a (Sovietized) Name?

Drawing upon archival evidence from the Czechoslovak government and its ministries from the 1970s, this paper presents a preliminary snapshot of the institutional processes that drove the emergence of computing disciplines separate from the rubric of Soviet cybernetics in Communist Czechoslovakia (nowadays, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic). We show that the new disciplines were created by a top-down order of the Czechoslovak government, which, in turn, was motivated by a larger scale initiative in the East Bloc. The disciplines created in the 1970s were as follows: Numerical Mathematics for an area of education akin to computer science, Electronic Computers for an area of education akin to computer engineering, and Automated Management/Control Systems for applied computing education. The evidence suggests that the cybernetics metaphor lost its organizing power in 1973 over the broad field of information processing in Czechoslovakia. This disciplinary shift, albeit not immediate, redistributed power between cybernetics and informatics. Indeed, it appears that even nowadays the distribution of power between the two disciplines in the Czech Republic is still in negotiation; what we term a “residual drift” has continued for almost 50 years as an impressive afterglow of the past fame of cybernetics in the east. In sum, the paper raises awareness of the fact that the emergence of computing disciplines behind the Iron Curtain was very different from the West. It also suggests that while academic research analogous to computer science thrived, other computing disciplines in Czechoslovakia were in more complicated positions. Although this paper focuses on Czechoslovakia, the method is generalizable and the data on enrollments may be compared to other countries. Thus, we provide a framework for the further study of similar disciplinary efforts in the remaining East Bloc countries.
Michal Doležel, Zdeněk Smutný

László Kalmár and the First University-Level Programming and Computer Science Training in Hungary

The aim of this case study is to provide a detailed description of the first university-level programming and computer science training in Hungary, which started in 1957 at the University of Szeged. The program began due to the strenuous efforts of Professor László Kalmár, who is considered to be “the father of computer science in Hungary”. The aim of this study is to add to the literature on Kalmár’s work, focusing on his activities in the field of computer science education, and at the same time, to add a detailed study from the Eastern Bloc to the history of computer science education.
Máté Szabó



Early Computer Development in Poland

The paper describes the history of early computing in Poland from the establishment of the Mathematical Apparatuses Group in 1948, which later changed into the independent Mathematical Apparatuses Division of the Polish Academy of Sciences and then finally became the Institute of Mathematical Machines, where the ZAM computers were designed and produced. Two other research and development centers, which were most important in the late 1950s and 1960s are also described: the Faculty of Telecommunications of the Warsaw Institute of Technology (UMC machines) and Elwro (Odra series). When the production of RYAD computers started in 1973, the production of these machines had to be dropped.
Marek Hołyński

The Long Road Toward the Rejewski-Różycki-Zygalski Cipher Center in Poznań

This paper presents the plans to create a Rejewski-Różycki-Zygalski Cipher Center at Poznań, Poland, where the story of Enigma breaking took its beginnings, covering a long way of the project since the inauguration of the monument in memoriam of the three codebreakers in 2007.
Marek Grajek

Soviet Union


Anatoly Kitov and Victor Glushkov: Pioneers of Russian Digital Economy and Informatics

Recent work in the history of computing published in English might lead scholars to believe that there was little worthwhile research in computers during the cold war in the USSR. This article is devoted to the history of the development of the digital economy and automated information systems for managing the national economy in the Soviet Union. This history shows that the Red Book and OGAS projects were not failures given their impact on the development of the digital economy in Russia. Particular attention is paid to the contribution of two great Soviet scientists, Anatoly Kitov and Victor Glushkov, to the development of the automation of the Soviet economy, as well as the works of computer pioneer V. M. Glushkov in the field of informatics and the information society, artificial intelligence systems, and the creation of computers. The international renown of these scholars and the continuing work of their students to develop their ideas shows that Kitov and Glushkov’s basic research had an important and lasting impact.
Olga V. Kitova, Vladimir A. Kitov

On the History of Gosplan, the Main Computer Center of the State Planning Committee of the USSR

In the 1970s and 1980s, the Main Computer Center (MCC) of the State Planning Committee (Gosplan) of the USSR was one of the largest civilian computer centers in the USSR and in Eastern Europe. Available historical literature contains only the basic facts about this center. In this article, the history of the Main Computer Center of the State Planning Committee of the USSR is supplemented and refined. The article describes the prerequisites for its creation, the transformation of its structure, the chronology of the use of various computers for economic calculations. The author reveals new facts about the Main Computer Center, its leading role in conducting economic calculations on computers, and its coordinating role in organizing the work of the computer centers of the planning committees of the union republics and other socialist countries. This work is based on the works of Soviet computer scientists and historians, on official materials, on the personal memories and archive of the author (who worked as a programmer in the Main Computer Center of the USSR State Planning Committee in the 1970s) and on the memories and personal archives of his former colleagues.
Vladimir A. Kitov

Main Teleprocessing Monitors for Third-Generation Computers in the USSR

In the 1970s and 1980s, one of the main directions of the development of system software for computers of the third generation was the creation of multi-terminal software complexes that provided interactions of many users of remote terminals with a central computer in the real-time mode. These software complexes (systems) were known under common name teleprocessing monitors (or telemonitors). A teleprocessing monitor (also, transaction processing monitor or TP monitor) is a control program that monitors the transfer of data between multiple local and remote terminals to ensure that the transaction processes complete [1]. This article describes these teleprocessing monitors of the third-generation computers used in the USSR such as OB, PRIMUS, CICS, KAMA and DRIVER. The most popular of these, though, was the original Soviet telemonitor OB (OБЬ in Russian). OB was created in the secret scientific research institute “Monolith” (Secret Number R-6211) of the Ministry of Defense Industry of the USSR by a group of programmers led by the author of the present article V. A. Kitov. This article is based on the work of computer scientists, the analysis of technical documentation, the personal memories and archive of the author and his colleagues. In the 1970s–1980s, the ES EVM computers were the main computers in the USSR.
The story of this development complicates the notion that the USSR simply borrowed architecture and software from IBM and other IT-companies in the 1970s and 1980s. In fact, adapting these systems for Soviet purposes proved to be frustrating, so innovation resulted. The development of OB shows a high level of Soviet programmers at the end of the cold war. OB was a large software package with over a million lines of code.
Therefore, the history of the creation and use in the USSR of system software telemonitors is an important part of the history of Soviet computers, on the one hand, and important part of the world history of system software telemonitors, on the other hand. How pointed at [14] “CICS generated over $60 billion in new hardware revenue for IBM, and became their most-successful mainframe software product.” Soviet programmers created their own original telemonitor OB, which played a similar role as telemonitor CICS. In the Soviet Union more than 40 percent of Soviet ES EVM computers used this telemonitor OB.
The experience of creation and practical use of the telemonitor OB was also important after the end of use of the third-generation computers in the USSR and in the world (in the USSR they were ES EVM computers). In the 1990s, the architectural solutions of the software of telemonitor OB were the basis for creation of the Russian system BAIKONUR for new computers of the next generation: RISC-servers.
Vladimir A. Kitov

CoCom and Comecon


Socialist Life of a U.S. Army Computer in the GDR’s Financial Sector

Import of Western Information Technology into Eastern Europe in the Early 1960s
This article investigates the role of the first digital computer in GDR’s socialist financial system. Why did the GDR’s Ministry of Finance import a Univac computer from the U.S. army in 1965, even though the country aimed at computational autarky and was restricted by embargo? The main argument is that the Ministry of Finance imported the computer to kickstart its program for electronic data processing. They succeeded because they not only imported a machine, but also reframed it ideologically. They drew on the notion of the computer as a universal machine and adapted it to local conditions. The process hints to the ambiguity of the later decision of the East Bloc toward copying IBM’s system architecture. This article investigates this process by following the traces of an early computer and the ideas surrounding it through the Iron Curtain. It stresses the role of early computer users with the example of GDR’s financial system in contrast to better known producer stories. Through the analysis of exclusive material, this is suggesting a different perspective on the import procedures of Eastern European countries in the Cold War. A policy change in the Cold War towards détente becomes visible as early as in 1965.
Martin Schmitt

Cooperating with Moscow, Stealing in California: Poland’s Legal and Illicit Acquisition of Microelectronics Knowhow from 1960 to 1990

Electrical calculating machines were designed and manufactured in Poland in small quantities during the 1950s. However, it soon become clear to the government that an autonomous advance in that cutting-edge discipline was simply impossible. Therefore, throughout the 1960s, Polish authorities established various channels of obtaining access to software solutions, transistors and especially integrated circuits that seem to become standard for years to come. The way of adopting IT by communist Poland did not differ much from how it was done in USSR – according to the model described by Mastanduno. It was a smart combination of legal measures like the use of trade agreements, official scientific-technical cooperation and illicit operations run with help of intelligence assets like bribing or blackmailing officials and employees, establishing fake intermediating companies for purchasing embargoed dual-use items. Therefore, medium and large-scale-integration-technology as well as specific types of computers like mainframes, minicomputers and later PCs along with peripheral devices came to the Polish People’s Republic through many routes. Moreover, Polish intelligence intensified its cooperation and information sharing with Soviet foreign intelligence service – like its counterparts in GDR, Hungary, etc. As a result, not only ties to the Western world were organized over and under the table, but also relationships with allies in Comecon were arranged in two dimensions. The case of Poland gives an excellent example of how schizophrenic the computer market under Comecon during the 1970s and 1980s was. This paper refers to the research project conducted by the author in the Institute of National Remembrance since 2011 and at the Jagiellonian University since 2018, entitled: “Scientific-technical intelligence of PPR: functions, organization, efficiency.” In this contribution the author presents the outcomes of the analysis of the Polish archival sources completing them by foreign archives and secondary sources.
Mirosław Sikora

From CoCom to Dot-Com: Technological Determinisms in Computing Blockades, 1949 to 1994

The well-known restrictions on exports of computing equipment to the USSR and its allies at the end of the cold war had a curious history. Although the legacy of CoCom is that it seems natural to restrict technology from potential belligerents, it is difficult to determine the policy’s efficacy. Started as a corollary to the plan to rebuild Europe after World War II, CoCom originally had nothing to do with computers. High-profile failures brought the usefulness of the economic blockade into question at the same time a new academic definition of technology became popular: technology is not just a material device, but it is also a means of getting something done. Computers were at the center of the quandary: does a device provide an inevitable strategic advantage, or is it the innovation culture that surrounds the device what needs protection? What is more, protecting the institutionalized knowledge from antagonists would require reducing the openness of the academic and scientific institutions that had provided innovation in the first place. When the personal computing revolution was underway, the computing embargo was at the forefront of CoCom, even though PCs had not been prominent at its inception. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the USSR, it might seem as if CoCom had been successful, yet contemporary critics and practitioners think otherwise. The determinism that underwrote CoCom then operated in reverse: policies granting access to computing networks were imagined to inevitably bring about cultural and political changes. The failure of CoCom to achieve a meaningful hindrance to technology and the unintended consequences of its implementation failed to make an impact in the political arena, but the lessons about technology transfer grained from the evaluation of the embargo deserve greater attention to guide policy today.
Christopher Leslie

Analog Computing


Israel Abraham Staffel: Lost Book Is Found

This article is devoted to the rediscovery of a document by Israel Abraham Staffel (1814–1885), a prolific Polish inventor. It is a handwritten book in Russian and Polish that provides detailed information about one of the most famous of Staffel’s inventions, a 13-digit arithmometer, honored at the Great London Exhibition in 1851. The brief biography of Staffel, born into a Jewish family of meagre means who became famous in his time as an inventor, and a description of his developments are presented. Particular attention is paid to his mechanical calculating machines. In the Appendix, an English translation of the handwritten book by Staffel appears for the first time. Typical mechanical calculating machines by the end of the nineteenth century were based on Leibniz’s stepped drums. Staffel’s arithmometer was based on pinwheels. The content of the discovered book allows us to raise the question of the influence of Staffel’s invention on the arithmometer’s design. The paper, which also clarifies and complements certain facts about his life, activity and inventions, demonstrates the need for further archival research to confirm the currently accepted history of innovation.
Timo Leipälä, Valery V. Shilov, Sergey A. Silantiev

Mathematicians at the Scottish Café

Between 1935 and 1941, “The Scottish Book” – a collection of almost 200 mathematical problems – was compiled by a group of Polish mathematicians who gathered at the Scottish Cafe in the Polish (earlier Austro-Hungarian/now Ukrainian) city of Lwów (Lemberg/Lviv) (Note: In this paper, I am using the names Lemberg, Lwów and Lviv, according to whether at the time the city was a part of Austria-Hungary, Poland or either the Soviet Union or Ukraine. Some essential history: (1) When Hitler invaded Poland in September 1939, the Germans crossed the whole of the country and reached as far as Lwów in the East; (2) Then they stopped and handed over the eastern section, including Lwów, to their Soviet allies (a result of the Molotov- Ribbentrop Pact), and retreated to the present-day Polish border; (3) Between October 1939 and May 1941, Lwów was under Soviet control. (4) In June 1941, with Germany and the Soviet Union allies no longer, the Germans ousted the Soviets from Lwów and stayed until the end of the War. (5) Lwów then became a city in the Ukrainian SSR; and (6) it is now is a part of independent Ukraine.). The Scottish Café had nothing to do with Scotland. It was owned by the author’s grandfather, Tomasz Zielinski. The Scottish Book and its problems survived World War II (a successor tome is being compiled and kept at the University of Wroclaw, Poland). Many members of this Lwów School of Mathematics went on to have illustrious careers and make indelible contributions to their chosen subject. This paper describes the evidence on the Scottish Book and the history of the various participants in this small but lasting component of the edifice of modern mathematics, which has been termed a “classic in mathematical thought”.
Chris Zielinski

Public History


Discovering Eastern Europe PCs by Hacking Them … Today

A rich array of personal computers was developed in Eastern Europe during the later years of the Cold War. Because computer science would not be the same without personal computers, these devices deserve greater attention in the history of computing. The story in the West, the so-called PC revolution, started in the late 1970s: it was rooted in hobbyist and do-it-yourself clubs and brought the discipline closer to many people. A revolution took place also on the other side of the Iron Curtain: it happened a few years later, yet in a comparable way. Faced with an embargo that limited the availability of the first western PCs, Eastern Europe companies and hobbyists innovated on their own, providing the users with a number of home and personal computers. Today, the scenario of personal computing has completely changed; however, the computers of the 1980s are still objects of fascination for a number of retrocomputing fans who still enjoy using, programming and hacking the old 8-bits. Yesterday’s hobbyists have become today’s retrocomputing enthusiasts: they provide an important window into these Eastern Europe PCs, which otherwise would have been forgotten.
In this article we give an overview on about fifty Eastern Europe PCs from the late 1970s to the 1980s. A few were clones of Western PCs, others shared some hardware and were compatible, others used significant portions of the firmware. Besides the preservation of old hardware and software, the retrocomputing community is engaged in the development of emulators and cross-compilers. Such tools can be useful for historical investigation based on reverse engineering. For example, we used one of them to investigate the originality of the BASIC interpreters loaded in the ROMs of Eastern Europe PCs.
Stefano Bodrato, Fabrizio Caruso, Giovanni A. Cignoni

Twentieth Anniversary of the Russian Virtual Museum of Computing and Information Technology History

In 2018, the Russian Virtual Computer Museum (RVCM, www.​computer-museum.​ru), created on the Internet by Edward Proydakov, celebrated its twentieth anniversary. Over the past two decades of its existence, the RVCM (also VCM) has taken its rightful place in the historical section of the Russian and the world’s Internet. The popularity of RVCM in the worldwide Internet space is ensured by its English-language version, functioning in parallel with its Russian-language version and providing accessibility for foreign guests. Every day, various sections of the RVCM are visited on an average by two thousand people. A large collection of books, documents and articles related to computer science subjects is stored in digitized form in RVCM. Currently, RVCM on the history of Soviet computers and computer science is the largest computer museum in the world. This article reveals the very existence of RVCM and its main features to the computer community. On the one hand, the advantages of RVCM compared to other computer museums on the Internet are shown. Analysis of its content is done in the article, and some shortcomings of the RVCM are identified and ways to improve its structure are outlined.
Vladimir A. Kitov, Edward M. Proydakov

ICT History Study as Corporate Philanthropy in Latvia

There are two ICT museums in Latvia: the Riga Technical University Telecommunications Museum and the Computing Museum of the Institute of Mathematics and Computer Science of the University of Latvia. Historical studies can be carried out at museums, institutes and universities, and professional communities. The type of history study funding can also vary. The article describes the possibilities for financing of computer museums. A comparison of museum metrics in the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia is subject to discussion. This comparison outlines the possible future museum reforms in the Baltic States. The authors review the public and private funding of museum operations. Philanthropy plays an increasing role in museum operation. Currently in Latvia, museums indirectly receive public government funding from the State Joint Stock Companies or municipalities. Private museums, corporate sponsorship and wide corporate philanthropy are the upcoming wave. ICT history studies are carried out by retired academics and authoritative engineers as volunteers. Such volunteering is the main part of developed philanthropy in Latvia. Universities play an important role in ICT history research that can be considered as one particular corporate philanthropy.
Inara Opmane, Rihards Balodis

The Engineering Heritage of Bashir Rameev at the Polytechnic Museum: Honoring the 100th Anniversary of His Birth

Bashir Iskandarovich Rameev fulfilled one of the main roles in the informatization of Russia as the developer of Ural computer. In English publications, information about him and his contribution to science is practically absent. Nevertheless, he left a valuable legacy in the form of his developments of the family of universal automatic digital computing machines “Ural” with advanced software. The engineering heritage of B. I. Rameev is kept at the Polytechnic Museum in Moscow. The tube automatic digital machine “Ural-1” takes a special place in the computer collection at the Museum. The personal documentary collection of B. I. Rameev is voluminous and unique in its content. The documents of his collection reflect the entire history of the creation and development of domestic electronic computing machines. Among these documents the project “Automatic Digital Computing Machine” of I. S. Brook and B. I. Rameev and patent No 10475 (USSR author’s certificate) on 4 December 1948 are preserved. This patent was the first officially registered invention in the field of electronic digital computers in the USSR. On the suggestion of the Polytechnic Museum, 4 of December 1948 is considered (not yet officially) to be the birthday of Russian informatics. It is impossible to overestimate the contribution of B. I. Rameev to domestic electronic computing equipment. His name should be preserved in the history of Russia.
Marina Smolevitskaya


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