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Issue No.03 - July-September (2006 vol.28)
pp: 4-16
Anne Fitzpatrick , George Washington University
Simon Berkovich , George Washington University
Tatiana Kazakova , University of Notre Dame
ABSTRACT
The MESM-Malaya Elektronnaya Schetnaya Mashina (Small Electronic Computing Machine)--was the first computer built in the USSR. This history of early Soviet computers examines the technical characteristics of the machines and the background of Soviet computer development.
INDEX TERMS
MESM, first generation computers, USSR computers, stored program concept
CITATION
Anne Fitzpatrick, Simon Berkovich, Tatiana Kazakova, "MESM and the Beginning of the Computer Era in the Soviet Union", IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol.28, no. 3, pp. 4-16, July-September 2006, doi:10.1109/MAHC.2006.53
REFERENCES
1. P. Wolcott and S.E. Goodman, "High-Speed Computers of the Soviet Union," Computer, vol. 21, no. 9, 1988, pp. 32–41; P. Wolcott, Soviet Advanced Technology: The Case of High-Performance Computing, doctoral dissertation, Dept. of Computer Science, Univ. of Arizona, 1993.
2. G.D. Crowe and S.E. Goodman, "S.A. Lebedev and the Birth of Soviet Computing," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 16, no. 1, 1994, pp. 4–24.
3. G. Trogemann, A.Y. Nitussov, and W. Ernst eds., , Computing in Russia: The History of Computer Devices and Information Technology Revealed, Vieweg, 2001.
4. V.S. Burtsev, B.N. Malinovskii, and N.S. Lebedeva, "Sergei Alexeevich Lebedev. Scientist, Toiler, Person," Sergei Alxeevich Lebedev, V.S. Burtsev, ed., Fizmatlit, 2002, pp. 9–48.
5. D. MacKenzie, "The Influence of the Los Alamos and Livermore National Laboratories on the Development of Supercomputing," Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 13, no. 2, 1991, pp. 179–201.
6. S. Goodman, "The Origins of Digital Computing in Europe," Comm. ACM, vol. 46, no. 9, 2003, pp. 21–25.
7. S.A. Lebedev, L.N. Dashevskii, and E.A. Shkabara, Malaya Elektronaya Schetnaya Mashina, Izdalelstvo Akademii Nauk SSSR [The Small Electronic Calculating Machines, UUSR Academy of Sciences Publisher], 1952 (in Russian). This document is reproduced in B.N. Malinovskii, Materiali Pro Stvorenia: Pershoi V Kontinentalnii Evropi Elektronnoi Obchislovalnoi Mashini [Documentary Materials Collection: The First Electronic Computer in Continental Europe, Assembled for the Conference in Honor of S.A. Lebedev, November 2002] (in Ukrainian).
8. John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert's initial plans for the ENIAC did not use the von Neumann principle of modification of instructions—they just automatically implemented a series of prearranged instructions; W. Aspray, John von Neumann and the Origins of Modern Computing, MIT Press, 1990.
9. B.N. Malinovskii, Istoriya vuichislitelnoi tekhniki v litsakh [The History of Computer Technology in Personalities], KIT, Kiev, 1995, pp. 250–251 (in Russian); G.D. Crowe, and S.E. Goodman, "S.A. Lebedev and the Birth of Soviet Computing," pp. 17–18.
10. G.D. Crowe and S.E. Goodman, "S.A. Lebedev and the Birth of Soviet Computing," pp. 17–18.
11. Protocol No. 1 [minutes] of Scientific Council Meeting of the Institute of Electrical Engineering and the Institute of Heat and Power, 8 Jan. 1951, in Malinovskii, Materiali document collection.
12. Lebedev to director of the Kievuchfilm Studios, 1 Aug. 1951, B.N. Malinovskii Materiali document collection, regarding the "Malaya Bistrodestvuyushaya Elektronnaya Schetnaya Mashina."
13. In Russian notation, this is χ = tg(χ/h), where tg is tan (tangent). Actually, it could be more sensible to consider the equation χ = -tg(χ/h), but the equation with the "+" sign might be easier to solve with limited computing facilities.
14. B.N. Malinovskii, Istoriya, p. 34.
15. In B.N. Malinvoskii Materiali document collection.
16. Author's (Berkovich) personal recollection of attending this seminar.
17. B.N. Malinovskii, Istoriya, pp. 175–204; T. Alexandridi, "K 50-letnie pervoi otechestvennoi EVM" ["The 50th Anniversary of the First Domestic Computer"], PC Week Russia,25 Dec. 2001, p. 34.
18. Referred to by Lebedev, Dashevskii, and Shkabara in their 1952 report as the "Large Computing Machine."
19. T. Alexandridi, "K 50-letnie pervoi otechestvennoi EVM" ["The 50th Anniversary of the First Domestic Computer"], PC Week Russia,25 Dec. 2001, p. 34. Author (Fitzpatrick) personal discussion with Alexandridi, Moscow, 14 Oct. 2003.
20. V.E. Kondrashov and I.D. Sofronov, "Matematicheskoe modelirovanie pri razrabotke yadernikh zaryadov," Voprosii istorii estestvoznaniya i tekhniki ["Mathematical Modeling during the Development of Nuclear Explosions," Questions in the History of Science and Technology], vol. 4, 1994, pp. 97–107 (in Russian).
21. G.D. Crowe and S.E. Goodman, "S.A. Lebedev and the Birth of Soviet Computing"; B.N. Malinovskii, Istoriya, pp. 50–52.
22. Besides Lebedev, the BESM's main designers were K.S. Nesluchovskii, P.P. Golovistikov, V.A. Mel'nikov, V.S. Burtsev, V.N. Laut, A.N. Zimarev, A.G. Laut, A.A. Sokolov, M.V. Tyapkin, V.Y. Alekseev, V.P. Smiriagin, I.D. Visun, A.S. Fedorov, O.K. Tscherbakov, L.A. Orlov, A.V. Avaev, V.V. Bardige, O.P. Vasiliev, S.I. Sudarikov, V.S. Chunaev, A.A. Gryzlov, A.A. Pavlikov, C.L. Pozdniakov, S.P. Kuznetsov, and others. Sergei Alekseevich Lebedev, Collections of Papers, Russian Academy of Sciences, Physico-Mathematical Literature, 2002, p. 266.
23. B.N Malinovskii, Istoriya, pp. 50–54. Y.Y. Bazilevskii, "Universalnaya elektronnaya vuichislitelnaya mashina 'Strela,'" Priborostroenie ["The Universal Electronic Calculating Machine Strela," Instrument Building], vol. 3, Mar. 1957, pp. 1–7 (in Russian).
24. L.N. Dashevskii and E.A. Shkabara, How it Began, Publishing House Znanie, 1981, p. 11 (in Russian).
25. "Stenogram of the meeting minutes of the USSR Academy of Science Committee on Technical Sciences, 6 July 1949," record group 1559, collection 1, no. 4, index 130, Institute of Precision Mechanics and Computing Technology; Russian Academy of Sciences Archives, Moscow.
26. From B.N. Malinovskii Materiali document collection: "Minutes No. 1, January 8, 1951, Scientific Council Meeting of the Institute of Electrical Engineering and the Institute of Heat and Power Engineering"; "S. Lebedev report to the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (AS USSR) about the situation in the field of high speed electronic computers design"; B.N. Malinovskii, "Sergei Alexeevich Lebedev," Trogemann et al., eds., Computing in Russia, pp. 108–124.
27. Berkovich personal communication with Brudno, 2003; A.L. Brudno, "Bounds and Valuations for Shortening the Scanning of Variations," Problems of Cybernetics, vol. 10, 1963, pp. 225–241.
28. See S. Berkovich, "Reminiscences of Super-conductive Associative Memory Research in the Former Soviet Union," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 25, no. 1, 2003, pp. 72–74.
29. M.A. Kartsev, Architecture of Digital Computers, Nauka, 1978, pp. 30–31 (in Russian).
30. A.S. Kronrod, Discussions on Programming, Editorial URSS, 2001 (first published in 1964), (in Russian).
31. Ibid., p. 105.
32. The Mark I was based on the earlier Small-Scale Experimental Machine (SSEM), the latter was often referred to by its nickname, Baby, developed by Frederic Williams and Tom Kilburn. The Mark I stored data in one 40-bit number or two 20-bit instruction registers. The machine featured two 20-bit address modifier registers—called B-lines—that could function either as index registers or as base address registers.
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