The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Computer Industry

A fascinating and curious look at the brief period of technological optimism for the bright future of technology-enabled Soviet socialism is provided by Francis Spufford’s Red Plenty, a mix of fact and fiction set in the period before the grey blanket of socialist mediocrity smothered innovation in Soviet computing in favour of blind copying of obsolete IBM System/360 architecture.

Here is more information on the BESM-6, the first Soviet supercomputer designed in 1965 with a total of 355 built between 1968 and 1987. In 1966, central planners decided to copy the IBM System/360 design, resulting in the ES EVM series of computers, of which more than 15,000 were built between 1968 and 1998. The machines were always years behind contemporary IBM models in performance, and put an end to Soviet indigenous development of computing technology.