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Issue No.02 - April-June (2010 vol.32)
pp: 21-31
Helena Durnová , Brno University of Technology
ABSTRACT
<p>After World War II, Anton&#x00ED;n Svoboda returned to Czechoslovakia with experience in building analog computers, a keen interest in digital computing technology, and aspirations to establish a computer industry in his homeland. Svoboda's original ideas were further developed by his students and colleagues and reflected in the design of SAPO, the first Czechoslovakian computer, in the 1950s.</p>
INDEX TERMS
SAPO computer, Antonin Svoboda
CITATION
Helena Durnová, "Sovietization of Czechoslovakian Computing: The Rise and Fall of the SAPO Project", IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol.32, no. 2, pp. 21-31, April-June 2010, doi:10.1109/MAHC.2010.7
REFERENCES
1. For information on A. Svoboda see J.G. Oblonský, "Eloge: Antonín Svoboda (1907–1980)," Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 2, no. 4, 1980, pp. 284–, 298, and G.J. Klir, Memorable Ideas of a Computer School: The Life and Work of Antonín Svoboda, Czech Technical Univ. Publishing House, 2007.
2. H. Zemanek deliberately used the definite article in his paper "My Relations to Antonín Svoboda," Computing Technology Past & Future. Prague Studies in the History of Science and Technology, vol. 5, J. Folta ed., New Series, 2001, pp. 11–23.
3. V. Černý, "Doslov [Afterword]," Stroje na zpracování informací, vol. 2, 1954, p. 89.
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8. D.H. Hook, J.M. Norman, and M.R. Williams, Origins of Cyberspace: A Library on the History of Computing, Networking, and Telecommunications, Norman Publishing, 2002, p. 459.
9. Klir, Memorable Ideas, pp. 19–20.
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13. P. Vysoký, "Professor Svoboda, Professor Trnka and First Courses on Computers at Czech Technical University," Computing Technology Past & Future, Prague Studies in the History of Science and Technology, vol. 5, J. Folta ed., New Series, 2001, pp. 25–35.
14. Klir, Memorable Ideas, p. 21.
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16. According to J. Oblonský (correspondence with H. Durnová, Feb. 2009), approx. 30 people attended Svoboda's lectures. According to K. Krištoufek (interviewed by H. Durnová, 21 Oct. 2009), the five regular attendees who later became Svoboda's doctoral students were himself, Jan Oblonský, Zdeněk Pokorný, Františ, ek Svoboda, and Miroslav Valach. The irregular attendees (usually engineers from Aritma) included Václav Černý, who later also became Svoboda's colleague, and Luděk Stibral, Svoboda's friend and the head of Aritma's R&D department.
17. K. Krištoufek interviewed by H. Durnová21 Oct. 2009.
18. "Výzkum instrukčních sítí pro samočinný počítač" [Research of Instruction Networks for an Automatic Computer], Final Report Central Mathematical Institute, Department for Information Processing Machines No. 7, Jan.–Dec. 1952. "Výzkumný ústav matematických strojů" [Research Institute for Mathematical Machines], Archiv Národního Technického Muzea v Praze [Archive of the National Technical Museum in Prague] collection.
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20. H.J. Konrad and H. Siegrist 1997, "Amerikanisierung und Sowjetisierung: Eine vergleichende Fragestellung zur deutsch-deutschen Nachkriegsgeschichte", [Americanization and Sovietization: Posing Questions for Comparisons in German-German Post-War History], Amerikanisierung und Sowjetisierung in Deutschland 1945–1970, K.H. Jarausch, and H. Siegrist eds., Campus Verlag, 1997, pp. 11–46.
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22. W. Aspray, "International Diffusion of Computer Technology," Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 8, no. 4, 1986, pp. 351–360.
23. K. Kaplan, Sovětští poradci v Československu 1949–1956 [Soviet Advisors in Czechoslovakia], Inst. for Contemporary History, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Praha, 1993.
24. J. Connelly, Captive University: The Sovietization of East German, Czech, and Polish Higher Education, 1946–1956, Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2000.
25. Z. Mlynář, Krize v sovětských systémech od Stalina ke Gorbačovovi [Crises in Soviet-Type Systems from Stalin to Gorbachev], 2nd ed., Prospektrum, 1991, p. 11–14.
26. M. Tejchman ed., Sovětizace východní Evropy: Země střední a jihovýchodní Evropy 1944–1948 [Sovietization of Eastern Europe: Countries in Central and South-Eastern Europe 1944–1948], Historický ústav, 1995.
27. R. Stokes, Constructing Socialism: Technology and Change in East Germany, 1945–1990, Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 2000.
28. K. Kaplan 1995, Československo v RVHP 1949–1956 [Czechoslovakia in Comecon], Inst. for Contemporary History, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, 1995.
29. I. Sviták, Veliký skluz: Dobrovolná sovětizace 1938–1948 [The Great Slide: Voluntary Sovietization], Orbis, 1990.
30. Connelly, Captive University, p. 19.
31. Nat'l Archive Czech Republic (NAČR), Ministerstvo všeobecného strojírenství [Ministry for General Machinery], box 174, folder 1032. Materials related to IBM.
32. M. Frk et al., 30 let československého elektrotechnického a elektronického průmyslu: 1948–1978 [30 Years of Czechoslovakian Electrotechnical and Electronic Industry], SNTL, 1978.
33. M. Nadler, "Some Notes on Computer Research in Eastern Europe," Comm. ACM, vol. 2, no. 12, 1959, pp. 1–2.
34. J. Frydryšková, "UNRRA and Support for Science," Acta Polytechnica, vol. 48, no. 3, 2008, pp. 38–39.
35. For more detailed discussion of the repercussions of Czechoslovakia's not joining the European Recovery Program, see P. Paju and H. Durnová, "Computing Close to the Iron Curtain: International Computing Practices in Czechoslovakia and Finland, 1945–1970," to be published in Comparative Technology Transfer and Society, vol. 8, 2010.
36. Note in pencil by the secretary of ČSAV František Šorm on a report of foreign trips. "Mathematics and Contacts in Foreign Countries," Masarykův ústav a Archiv akademie věd, v..v.i. [Masaryk Inst. and the Archive of the Academy of the Sciences of the Czech Republic (AAV)], collection I. (Matematicko-Fysikální) Sekce ČSAV [Section I (Mathematics and Physics) of the ČSAV], 1952–1961, box 21, folder 68.
37. In the first half of 1956, for example, the number of trips abroad from Svoboda's smaller Laboratory for Mathematical Machines was twice as high as the number of the trips abroad from the larger Mathematical Institute led by Eduard Čech. "Evaluations of Foreign Trips of Members and Employers of Section I," AAV, collection I. (Matematicko-Fysikální) Sekce ČSAV [Section I (Mathematics And Physics) of the ČSAV], 1952–1961, box 21, folder 69.
38. Elektronische Rechenmaschinen und Informationsverarbeitung [Electronic Digital Computers and Information Processing], Nachrichtentechnische Fachberichte − Beiheft der NTZ, Band 4, Vieweg & Sohn, 1956.
39. N.J. Lehmann ed., Aktuelle Probleme der Rechentechnik: Bericht über das internationale Mathematiker-Kolloquium [Current Problems of Computing Technology: Report on the International Colloquium of Mathematicians], VEB Deutscher Verlag der Wissenschaften, 1957.
40. "Mathematics and contacts in foreign countries," AAV, collection I. (Matematicko- Fysikální) Sekce ČSAV [Section I (Mathematics And Physics) of the ČSAV], 1952–1961, box 21, folder 68.
41. Act No. 261/1949, Collection of Acts of the Czechoslovak Republic.
42. Act No. 185/1950, Collection of Acts of the Czechoslovak Republic.
43. "Inventory. Dr. J. Levora," AAV, collection Likvidační komise ČSAV 1952–1954 [Abolishment Committee of the ČSAV 1952–1954], 1981.
44. M. Blaive discusses the 1956 events in Hungary and Poland and the absence of political action in Czechoslovakia in "L'année 1956 en Tchécoslovaquie," doctoral dissertation, supervised by Kryzstof Pomian, l'École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS), Paris, 1999.
45. Mlynář also mentioned in his study that it seemed that the socialist system on the Soviet bloc and the social democratic visions in the West would converge.
46. M. Franc introduction to the seminar "1958 Screenings at the ČSAV and Universities," Working Seminar at Masaryk Institute and Archive of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, 10 Dec. 2008; seminar report in Zpravodaj Masarykova ústavu, v.v.i., 2008, p. 11.
47. As M. Franc pointed out in his presentation, Málek, who was responsible for this particular screening, did not make clear notes from the screenings; his "plus minus" mark is open to interpretations, but probably the judgment was neither positive nor negative. "Prověrky v roce 1958 a Ivan Málek" [1958 Screenings and Ivan Málek], presentation at the seminar "1958 Screenings at the ČSAV and Universities," MÚA-AAV, 10 Dec. 2008.
48. For a chronological overview of the SAPO project, 1951–1956 (April), compiled in summer 1956, see "Ústav matematických strojů" [Institute for Mathematical Machines], AAV, collection I. (Matematicko-Fysikální) Sekce ČSAV [Section I (Mathematics And Physics) of the ČSAV], 1952–1961, box 11, folder 24.
49. National enterprise was directed centrally through the relevant ministry.
50. Stroje na zpracování informací [Information Processing Machines], vol. 1, 1953. This whole volume is devoted to the work with mathematical machines and punched-card machines.
51. This fact reflects a smooth transition of the Center for Research and Technological Development into the ČSAV.
52. The case of computing technology is intertwined with the history of cybernetics. In terms of ideology, Czechoslovakia followed the developments in the Soviet Union; see S. Gerovitch, From Newspeak to Cyberspeak, MIT Press, 2002, and "The Feedback of Fear," oral presentation at the XXIII ICHST Congress, Budapest, 28 Jul. 2009.
53. A. Svoboda, "Z pracovní konference pořádané oddělením strojů na zpracování informací při Matematickém ústavu Československé akademie věd" [From a Working Seminar Organized by the Department for Information Processing Machines, A Part of the Mathematical Institute of the Czechoslovak Academy of the Sciences], vol. 78, 1953, p. 30.
54. Letters by A. Svoboda 7 Jan. 1953, and by Eduard Čech, 12 Jan. 1953. "Mathematical Institute," AAV, collection I. (Matematicko-Fysikální) Sekce ČSAV [Section I (Mathematics And Physics) of the ČSAV], 1952–1961, box 10, folder 22.
55. "Ústav matematických strojů" [Institute for Mathematical Machines], AAV, collection I. (Matematicko-Fysikální) Sekce ČSAV [Section I (Mathematics And Physics) of the ČSAV], 1952–1961, box 11, folder 24.
56. This prize is often downgraded or even overlooked when Svoboda is portrayed as the victim of the regime; see Klir, 2007; Černý and Klir, 1991.
57. Report of the committee called by academician Novák for the inspection at the Inst. for Mathematical Machines on 2 Apr. 1955. "Ústav matematických strojů" [Institute for Mathematical Machines], AAV, collection I. (Matematicko-Fysikální) Sekce ČSAV, 1952–1961, box 11, folder 24.
58. Letter, dated 1 June 1956, signed by Svoboda's colleagues: Zdeněk Korvas, Morton Nadler, Václav Chlouba, Karel Krištoufek, Zdeněk Pokorný, Jan Oblonský, Václav Černý, Jindřich Marek, and František Svoboda. "Ústav matematických strojů" [Institute for Mathematical Machines], AAV, collection I. (Matematicko-Fysikální) Sekce ČSAV, 1952–1961, box 11, folder 24.
59. "Ústav matematických strojů" [Institute for Mathematical Machines], AAV, collection I. (Matematicko-Fysikální) Sekce ČSAV, 1952–1961, box 11, folder 24.
60. Report of the steps undertaken to secure the construction of SAPO, 1951–1956. "Ústav matematických strojů" [Institute for Mathematical Machines], AAV, collection I. (Matematicko-Fysikální) Sekce ČSAV, 1952–1961, box 11, folder 24.
61. P. Vysoký interviewed by H. Durnová 21 Feb. 2008. Allegedly, the mutual hatred started during the military service: the two men were born in the same year, so their paths likely crossed repeatedly.
62. ČSAV Presidential board meeting, 30 Aug. 1956. AAV, collection "Minutes from the Č, SAV Presidium and the Presidential Board."
63. J. Oblonský correspondence with H. Durnová, Feb. 2009.
64. ČSAV Presidential Board meeting, 13 Mar. 1957. AAV, collection "Minutes from the ČSAV Presidium and the Presidential Board."
65. Report on J. Kožešník's visit to the Inst. for Mathematical Machines, ČSAV Presidential board meeting, 26 Sept. 1956. Report on the inspections of the state of the art of the work on SAPO by Stránský and Trnka. AAV, collection "Minutes from the ČSAV Presidium and the Presidential Board."
66. J. Oblonský correspondence with H. Durnová, Dec. 2009.
67. ČSAV Presidential board meeting, 19 Jun. 1957. AAV, collection "Minutes from the ČSAV Presidium and the Presidential Board."
68. "Ústav matematických strojů" [Institute for Mathematical Machines], AAV, collection I. (Matematicko-Fysikální) Sekce ČSAV, 1952–1961, box 11, folder 24.
69. A. Svoboda OH 35, CBI, pp. 29–30. G.J. Klir, correspondence with H. Durnová, Feb. 2009.
70. Report on the TV program featuring Svoboda by J. Novak ČSAV Presidential board meeting, 19 Jun. 1957. AAV, Collection: Minutes from ČSAV presidium and presidential board.
71. ČSAV Presidential board meeting, 19 June 1957; AAV, collection "Minutes from the ČSAV Presidium and the Presidential Board."
72. M. Jiřina and K. Korvasová, "Výpočetní technika" [Computing Technology], chapt. 6, Studie o technice v českých zemích 1945–1992 [Studies on Technology in the Czech Lands 1945–1992], J. Folta ed., Encyklopedický dům, 2003, pp. 569–585.
73. Minutes from the meeting of the Institute for Mathematical Machines, 18 Dec. 1957. "Ústav matematických strojů" [Institute for Mathematical Machines], AAV, collection I. (Matematicko-Fysikální) Sekce ČSAV, 1952–1961, box 11, folder 24.
74. Interestingly, this change is also noted by N.M. Blachman who in general praises the development of computing technology in Czechoslovakia up until 1959. N.M. Blachman, "Central-European Computers," Comm. ACM, vol. 2, no. 2, 1959, pp. 14–18.
75. Černý, and Klír, 1991, present a long list of Svoboda's colleagues who emigrated.
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