Thursday, December 29, 2011

Soviet computer is 60

Engadget reports that the, "MESM project, which just marked the 60th anniversary of its formal recognition by the Soviet Academy of Sciences. The project, headed by Institute of Electrical Engineering director Sergey Lebedev, was born in a laboratory built from scratch amongst the post-World War II ruins of Ukrainian capital city, Kyiv, by a team of 20 people, many of whom took up residence above the lab. Work on MESM -- that's from the Russian for Small Electronic Calculating Machine -- began toward the end of 1948. By November 1950, the computer was running its first program. The following year, it was up and running full-time."
    This is interesting because after writing my chapter on WWII computing I was wondering about what other countries were doing computationally. Konrad Zuse, in Germany, is well known, but little seems to be published about Russian, Italian or Japanese computing during or just after the war. It seems unlikely that the Allies had the field of computing all to them selves. Wikipedia has this article on post war Soviet bloc computing, but I can find nothing about Japanese or Italian attempts or earlier Russian ones. If you have any information please let me know.