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Minsk vs IBM [Copy link] 中文

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Exactly 35 years ago, the first in the history IBM PC wenton sale. But long before that day — in 1960-s, one of the centers of SovietCybernetics was in Belarus. Let us remember the story of a family of computingmachinery "Minsk" which won All-Union glory and then lost it.

The gap between the western countries in the field ofcomputer technology in the 1950s, according to the most optimistic estimates,was at least 10 years. Therefore, in August 1956, the decision of the USSRCouncil of Ministers was the start of the expansion of the production ofelectronic computers across the country. Resolution also provided for theestablishment of centres for their production, design and development, one ofwhich was supposed to stay in the BSSR.

Soon in Minsk Ordzhonikidze Plant was opened, andalready in 1958, Special Design Bureau (SDB) was organized on its base forsupport and upgrades produced by the computer. Subsequently, the SDB wastransformed into an independent design and research company - NIIEVM working tothis day.

"Minsk-1" - the first original Belarusiancomputer


*First-generation computer Minsk-1*

The firstcompletely original project of the plant became a computer titled"Minsk-1". Development of the device occurred in a fairly shorttime - 18 months in parallel with the design of the machine, they also workedon preparing its series production.

Computer Testing took place in September 1960, the same yearappeared the first production samples. The speed of their work was estimated at2.5 thousand operations per second (for comparison: the speed developed by theMoscow Institute of Electronic Control Machines computer M-3 was about 30operations per second).

Achieving these results was obtained, including through theuse of high-speed memory on ferrite cores, which replaced the aging of memoryon magnetic drums (in appearance resembled a tank of a washing machine).

Ferrite coreswere small rings of special magnetic alloy 1.5 mm in diameter. For the"Minsk-1" there were required to order 80 thousand such rings.


Ferrite core memory.

Programming for this computer was carried out in machinecode, but in the "delivery" of the machine included a library of 100programs consisting of 7.5 thousand teams. Also for "Minsk-1"have been developed some of the world's first autoprogramming systems —translators "Autocode Inzhener" and "Autocode Economist".

Another competitive advantage of the machine becomerelatively modest size. It took about 4 square meters of space to accommodatethe entire system, while some other computers (for example, the Moscow BESM)took as much as 100 square meters.


All this has allowed the computer "Minsk-1" in thefirst half of the 60s to become the leading type of tube production machines ofthis type in the entire USSR. For four years ( In the period from 1960 to1964) it issued 230 "Minsk-1" and was created by a number of itsmodifications for various industries.

"Minsk-11" was made to work with seismicinformation and telegraph lines, "Minsk-12" - with four timesincreased external memory on magnetic tape. "Minsk-14" and"Minsk-16" intended for processing of meteorological data, and the"Minsk-100" was created by order of the Ministry of Interior of theUSSR for the detection and storage of fingerprints to the original encoderfingerprint information.


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This post was edited by dostoevskydr at 2016-9-5 14:47


All-Union success of the "Minsk-2" series ofcomputers

In parallel with the release of the "Minsk-1" atthу Plant, there was conducted the development of the second generation ofcomputers — "Minsk-2", which subsequently became the firstsemiconductor computer in USSR.


Speed ​​unit was estimated at 5-6 million operations persecond. It is important that it is the "Minsk-2" became the firstcomputer in the entire Soviet Union, which had the opportunity to enterand process text information (before all the machines work exclusively withdigital data).

However, in a series of unit I did not go at once. The USSRState Committee for Electronics, which was sent for approval  the technicaldesign of the machine refused to accept it. The fact is that the SDB factorywas only engaged in testing and improvement of already existing computersrather than developing new ones.

The project is approved only after the intervention ofsenior management of the Byelorussian SSR, then in 1963 launched a full-scaleproduction. Totally, the plant issued 118 computers "Minsk-2".


On the basis of "Minsk-2" a number of modifiedcomputers were also created. "Minsk-26" and "Minsk-27"meant, for example, for processing data received from meteorologicalrockets and satellites «Meteor».

The most popular model was the computer "Minsk-22"(all were released 734 units), which, at compared with the base model, hadseveral times more RAM and a tape drive.


Computer "Minsk-22"

The device was extremely popular in the field of planningand economic calculations. Input and output devices of punched cards wereconnected by the apparatus, as well as alphanumeric printing device.

But the "breakthrough" model can be considered ascomputer "Minsk-23", released in the year 1966.


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This post was edited by dostoevskydr at 2016-9-5 15:23


Computer "Minsk-23"

The performanceof "Minsk-23" was about 7 thousand operations per second. Itused many unique at that time, technical developments allowed the machineto work in multitasking mode (advanced system of interruptions and suspensions,universal communication with external devices, a protected area of memory forsystem programs, and others).

The unit could simultaneously be carried out up to 3 workingand 5 service programs. To do this, the machine was equipped with the first"Manager" operating system in the USSR.

Several large Soviet enterprises were based on thecomputer "Minsk-23". The system, for example, used in the Moscowassociation "Mosmoloko", also based on it, built a system for thesale and reservation of "Aeroflot" flight. But commerciallysuccessful "Minsk-23" can not be named - the plant has produced atotal of 28 such machines.

The last of the Mohicans: computer "Minsk 32".

Computer "Minsk-32" was released in 1968 andabsorbed all the best achievements of the previous models in the series.


Computer "Minsk-32"

In addition to substantial productivity gains (the machinepossessed speed about 30 − 35 thousands operations per second), the presence ofa multiprogramming system of work (there could work up to 4 independentchannels at the same time) and the possibility of creating on its basis theMultimachine systems, "Minsk 32" was implemented software compatiblewith previous family computer "Minsk".

In the 60s of the last century, it was a common practice tocreate  complex and expensive programs that run only on a single hardware andcomputer system, so that the implementation of such interoperability has becomea real innovation and highlight of "Minsk-32" that this was not ableto offer not only Soviet counterparts, but most of the foreign computers.

From 1968 to 1975, was released about 3 thousand of thesemachines, but, despite this popularity, "Minsk-32" was the lastrepresentative of the whole family of computers "Minsk".

Why computers "Minsk" disappeared

A common problem of all Soviet computers of the late 60-ies(with a few exceptions of "Minsk-32") was a complete hardware andsoftware incompatibility with each other.

Programs designed for a specific computer models simplycould not be used on other machines. This, in turn, significantlyincreased the cost of development, when designers had to "write" aprogram virtually from scratch.

At the same time, the American company IBM didn't wait foranyone and already in 1965 introduced a new, third generation  ofelectronic computers on integrated circuits - IBM-360, which were constructiveand the software was fully compatible.

Alas, the second path was chosen, and the development ofcomputer "Minsk" family has been discontinued. In 1970, the foundersof the family of these machines were awarded USSR State Prize, and since 1971the Minsk plant for the production of computers began to produce a computerSingle Series (UCS), the architecture of which was borrowed from IBM.



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Nice history

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