After Hours

60's style Soviet computer technology

The Univac and IBM 700's weren't the only mainframe computers around in the late 50's and early 60's. Take a look at this video showing the URAL-2 computer from the Soviet Union, circa 1963.

The Univac and IBM 700s weren't the only mainframe computers around in the late 50s and early 60s. Take a look at this video showing the URAL-2 computer from the Soviet Union, circa 1963.

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With Russia's recent behavior reminding us about the Soviet Union and this being Classics Rock, I wanted to dig around to see if I could find some examples of early Soviet computer technology. This video shows the Ural-2 computer, which was around in the late 50s and early 60s.

The Urals were a whole family of computers that the Soviet Union relied on in the 60s. Like the Univacs and IBM 700s of the time, they were vacuum tube based as you can see here. It's not easy to find out a lot of information about the systems, but depending on the source, the machines were either technologically inferior to the American systems of the time or ahead in areas of information systems integration. American computer companies were able to take advantage of transistorized technologies and quickly outpaced their Soviet counterparts.

In either case, not many of the systems were made. My research indicated that there were fewer than 200 of these units ever built and used. Not only did they employ vacuum tubes, but as you can see in the video they also seemed to be programmed using paper tape instead of punch cards. The language it used was called KLIPA, which supposedly was kind of Fortran-ish in style.

Lots of information about computing in the Soviet Union can be found on the Pioneers of Soviet Computing Web site.

My Russian is about as good as my Japanese, so if anyone can help translate any of this, feel free to post some of it in the Comment section.

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