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Vladimir Kitov: "it is Impossible to understand how scientists-pioneers foresaw the universal computerization in the 50's!"
Material posted : Administrator Publication date: 20-06-2020

Vladimir Kitov working with it more than half a century, led the team of programmers in the main computer center of Ministry of the USSR and Central research Institute "Monolith", led the development of software for the international system of space rescue, the COSPAS-SARSAT and the creation of a multi-terminal monitor for UCS. He worked as top Manager in companies DEC, SIEMENS, Technoserv, IBS, Fujitsu, wrote a textbook on system programming and several books, and now deals with the history of computer science.

In the continuation of the interview with Vladimir Kitov recalls his father Anatoly Ivanovich and other prominent Soviet scientists, explains why the history of automated control systems — a considerable part of the history of the country, talks about working for agriculture in the Institute of Cybernetics at the turn of 1980-1990's.

"My career can be divided into three periods: socialist (1968-1991 gg.), capitalist (1991-2011) and the pensioner (2011-present).
The first part of our conversation covered the first Soviet period of my professional career — from 1968 to 1991. In April 1991, began work in the conditions of capitalism, it lasted until 2011".

About the history of ACS in the USSR

History of ASU — it's not just the history of information technology. It's part of the history of the country, because in 1960-70 years in the Soviet Union was created a whole industry of automated control systems, which employs about 700 thousand people. Electronics engineers, programmers, algorithmist, analysts, analysts: in all of the many industrial enterprises of the country had its own divisions of ACS, each of which had about 100 people. Ie is history independent industry, with all its UPS and downs.

Take any modern enterprise to promptly inform and processing business information using so-called ERP system. In the Soviet Union, their place was taken by ACS. It is a technological ocean, is divided into separate scientific direction — "the sea". For example, ACS TP (automated control system of technological production — production lines and machines). Then the APMS (automated systems of management of enterprises) — a computer system with which to make management decisions informed the Director, Deputy Directors, chief accountant, heads of departments, industries, shops and other leaders.

The USSR's first system for large enterprises was ASUP "Lviv", introduced at the Lviv television plant "Electron" in the mid-1960s.

Another it-seaside — CCA (Industry automated control system). Who centrally manages the enterprises, design bureaus, factories, scientific research institutes in each industry? The Ministry. In the Ministry of defence industry, for example, consisted of about 300 large enterprises for the production of weapons. Or, for example, the CCA MRI — Ministry of radio industry, factories which produced computers UCS, SM computers, "Ural" and others. On — RACE, national ACS. 15 Union republics, each with its own Council of Ministers, your Republican Central Committee of the Communist party, its structure.

The introduction of OGAS formally included in the list of decisions of XXIV Congress of the CPSU, held in the spring of 1971. But in fact no support to project Soviet power had

It was supposed that all these many thousands of automated systems will be integral parts of the OGAS — Nationwide automated system, named after 1970. It started as ERSVC — the unified state network of computing centers. In 1959 the idea of AHSWC the Soviet Government offered my father Anatoly Ivanovich Kitov for a radical restructuring of economic management and planning of the national economy. The chief ideologist and propagandist of the OGAS was Victor M. Glushkov. Unfortunately, the Communist leaders, he was not endowed with any governmental authority in the field of automation across the country and his proposals were not mandatory and only recommendatory in nature.

The manuscript Anatoly Kitov 1959, dedicated to the project "Red book" — a single system of management of the national economy and the Armed forces of the USSR

As in the Soviet Union was ruled by Communist leaders? Simplistic. Was going to a meeting of the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee, for example, on crops, or the production of tractors. For example, behind the Rostov region — of course, I cite it simply as an illustrative example. Then the head of the USSR. Khrushchev or other major leader takes the phone and makes the Secretary of the Rostov regional party nasty verbal beating: "You so-and-so, Mr, why do you have plants do not work? Why the plan does not fulfill?"

— "So, Nikita Sergeyevich! Run!" Then he takes the phone, calls the plant "Why the parasites do not perform?" The Director of the factory, blasting foremen and production areas: "Shoot posts, I'll leave without a prize! Why the plan does not fulfill?" Yes, because any plans unrealistic, or one of the workers on shift came out (say, drinking), or allied spare parts are not brought up, and will take them only at the end of the month.

But what does a section chief in this case? "Let me lie that the plan is executed, and at the end of the month, quarter or year shock catch up". Then the foreman lying on the enterprise level. The Director of the enterprise lies with the Secretary of the district party Committee. And so at all levels. There was even a special term "registry" and "rush."

And all because the Soviet bosses didn't want them removed from office, deprived of personal vehicles, prestigious rations, state dachas and other benefits. And benefits given is greater than the above was the position. After the Soviet Union was the country distribution of the deficit at all levels. Here I though there were slight head — head — but had orders to receive scarce goods: coats, muskrat hats, Japanese jackets, permits on rest to Bulgaria, and then another, and car. Regularly received food sets: a jar of instant coffee for $ 10, stick with Finnish sausage and other scarce products. Bad work — will not give. Therefore, at all levels, lied. Like the files were fine, but the result is unsatisfactory. Central to were the subjective human factor, whose role it was proposed to radically reduce, by installing a computer. That is, with the introduction of global computer system offered all of these report links, since each production area and up to the Moscow Central government, to computerize and merge into a single network. The sensors will record that the item is produced, and then will report on the level of the shop. Then information about the production of larger units and products computer will be reported at the enterprise level. And so on up. The computer does not lie. That was the idea, but it failed.

Main reason for this is extreme indecision existing then the stagnant Soviet regime. Anatoliy Ivanovich Kitov in one of his letters "up" warned: "do Not expect everything will be settled by itself". But Khrushchev's and Brezhnev's power was too "weak in the knees" to take on a serious project. Quietly, she expected that somehow things would work out without a global reconstruction of the national economy. Over the years, the situation in the country became worse and worse — first standstill, then stagnation and finally the collapse of a great country. All natural.

And it's too bad, because the Soviet Union with its Central planning and control was perfect for OGAS. I wonder, is it not possible that under comrade Stalin's brilliant idea of AHSWC/OGAS, could be realized. He was able to take a risk and go for the realization of this expensive project, because being a cruel tyrant, some smart thinking about the consolidation of state power. Still, it is no coincidence that he's from an agrarian country in the short term made the industrial giant.

Then when the Communists been good at all intimidating. As Stalin said: "Our scientists work well when 10-15 percent of them are sitting". I heard that even Sergei Korolev had the forms: "arrest so-and-so for non-job" and a blank field for the name. As he wrote academician Boris Yevseyevich Chertok, Deputy Queen, aerospace, and nuclear, then worked on the laws of war. It was tough: for the failure of implementation of the plan could term gain.

We sometimes hear that with the then existing communications technology, with a huge antediluvian computers implement such a project was unrealistic. But I'm such a judgment seems short-sighted. It was proposed to create ERSVC, but nobody said that the work of AHSWC needs on devices that are available. At the time unreal was the flying space, and the nuclear project. In a direct and clear order of the leadership of the country, as in these two cases was raised by scientists of a global task could pull up and everything you need for it solutions in the industry. Communication, computers, etc.

In the late 1950-ies Anatoly Kitov argued that automation in the country must meet the head of state with the rank of member of the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee, and all work in the field of computers and ACS need to exclusively carry out, coordinate, and implement a single public body of national importance — a separate Ministry. "The only way the matter will not be left to chance".

Anatoly Ivanovich Kitov — doctor of technical Sciences, Professor, honored worker of science and technology of Russia, academician, engineer-Colonel

Unfortunately, in the seventies in the Soviet Union to the ASU industry began to wriggle a motley of opportunists in the face of the former party and Komsomol nomenklatura (usually poorly educated in it). In the country at ASU were spent huge funds, and the effect of their activities was low. Haphazardly and without any coordination took thousands of unrelated ASU. As thousands of bricks not the building and the disparate, heterogeneous, raznostoronnie hardware and software themselves did not form a unified system. It was rather to discredit the idea of automated management, to which was attached the term "patchwork piecewise automation". The abbreviation ASU some leaders began to look skeptical.

In 1976, the Mstislav Keldysh, not as President of the USSR, with his characteristic bluntness said, "we have Bad peripheral devices to a computer and, maybe even worse with their software maintenance... Necessary, I think, to prepare and raise the question about change of the order of creation of the electronic machines. There should be one organization — the Union or the Ministry — which is part of the Academy of Sciences will develop in a complex of modern electronic machines, because further delay in this respect unacceptable." Thus Mstislav Vsevolodovich almost word for word repeated the statement of Anatoly Kitov made in 1959, in a letter to the head of the USSR. S. Khrushchev.

Intelligent meetings

Seniors regularly went to each other's homes. Often met my parents who, I think, quite deliberately, put me somewhere on the edge of the table. Constantly there were songs, laughter, humor. Cementing the Foundation of the company was my mother Galina. My father's friends and colleagues called him the father of Soviet Cybernetics, and my mom, in jest, her mother.

It wasn't even gatherings, and a discussion of what they care about. The conversation always switched to science: computer science, automation, programming, new ideas. For each it was the most important thing. I thought that I have three older friend of eminent scientists: Alexey Andreevich Lyapunov, Nikolai panteleimonovich of Buslenko and Victor M. Glushkov that every time I had a conversation with. Before school I had a big plush puss in boots, which I called Lyapunov. I recall with pleasure we have been Igor Poletaev, Nikolai A. Krinitsky, Bashir of Iskandarovich Rameev, the Creator of Zelenograd computers of Israel akushsky.

The house on the embankment, where the family lived Whale, officially called government House

Another reason to come — the arrival of someone from outside of Moscow. We constantly came to visit Leonid Kantorovich and his wife, who often flew from Novosibirsk. He later received the Nobel prize. From Kiev came Victor M. Glushkov. As the Deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, he constantly visited the meetings in the Kremlin — go across the Moscow river from the Kremlin in the house on the embankment, where we lived, was easy. He regularly came to us, including lunch breaks between sessions. To feed his mom was easy — he liked herring and potatoes. With him I met twelve years of age when dad took me to MSU where he gave a lecture on Cybernetics in the Big hall. I remember that I was ashamed of my age and my father tried to cheer me up.

Alexey Andreevich Lyapunov — mathematician, one of the founders of Cybernetics, corresponding member of the USSR Academy of Sciences since 1964

Most importantly the amazing spirit of these evenings. No competition, no fighting over priorities, no debate "I'm right and you are wrong". Quiet, friendly intelligent conversation, respect each other people, for whom the main thing is figuring out the truth. Often they were so fascinated by the discussion that went on with the conversation even in the hallway, putting on his coat. So it was one evening, when I was a student. In the morning have to go to College, and on the rack there is my pretty shabby hats of rabbit, but hanging a beautiful deerskin. Had to go learn it, and in the evening, I began to find out, who yesterday could my rabbit for this fawn to change. Was fascinated by the discussion of Lyapunov. Talking on the phone to his relatives: "Now come to change the hat back", and they answer me that he has left to Novosibirsk. Had to wait until he will once again come to Moscow. But when I went to him still came, he introduced me to another guest — Boris Vladimirovich Gnedenko, textbook of which I at that time studied the theory of probabilities.

The first edition of the textbook by B. V. Gnedenko, was released in 1950

Regularly read poems by Pushkin, Yevtushenko, Rozhdestvensky, Samoylov, and songs sang folk Russian and Ukrainian military, "There is only a moment between past and future" and others. Anatoly Ivanovich Kitov, 1940, which was the leading company commander, with a special feeling sang "On the nameless height" and "Marsh gunners" and everyone sang along with it.

Each of these people caused me admiration. They were great workers and intellectuals. In contrast to the subsequent more practical generations of scientists, don't get involved in any competition for the individual championship, boasted of its merits. Dad never wasted time on pointless criticism of the government, although he was seriously injured from it. Believed that "the times did not choose" and it is necessary at any time in good faith and dedicated to work. For example, he never scolded any country or its Communist leaders, although his project "the Red book" was rejected, and myself for this project was expelled from the Communist party, which he joined during the war at the front. A year later, however, restored. Realized that he wanted what was best for the country and its people to unite computers all ministries and enterprises of the USSR in the Unified computer network (ERSVC) for management of the national economy of the country. In 1959 two letters to the Central Committee of the CPSU Khrushchev with their proposals sent, and then continued these ideas to defend. When somewhere in 1971, he realized that the Communist party leadership, supporting the idea in words, in fact, will never create OGAS for improving management of the economy, switched to the more real problem — medical Cybernetics, became the chief designer of automated control system "Healthcare".

He was not in words, but in fact a true patriot and deeply devoted to his family man. Apparently, therefore, the curators of the KGB freely produced in a scientific trip abroad. Including, not only the delegations but one.

Galina and Anatoly Kitovi, 22.09.1947. Photo from the personal Fund "Anatoly Ivanovich Kitov" at the Polytechnical Museum

It was some amazing people — the people of the Renaissance. They were property — they are life studied. The same Anatoly Ivanovich in the evening before bed was reading books on biology, trying to understand the structure of cells, the structure of the brain, the root causes of cancer formations. When he began to travel regularly abroad, after fifty, quickly learned conversational English and could easily communicate with foreign colleagues, has lectured in American universities, made presentations at conferences. He had a unique memory. English free reading of the scientific literature he learned at the military Academy in the second half of 1940-ies. But the main foreign language was German, which he owned freely since the war.

Anatoly Ivanovich Kitov and VC-1 MO USSR (in/HR 01168)

My father had two passions: science and sport. I do not remember him lying on the couch or sitting in front of the TV all the time behind a Desk. Wrote something, I thought... this Morning I woke up before school at 7am to run with a friend along the embankment of the Moscow river. So, Wake up and find him already sitting at the table. As for sports, he was a champion of Tashkent gymnastics, a good tennis player, chess player. Every morning, doing exercises, and even went to the pool CSKA on Leningradsky Prospekt, and took me with him. For his Computing center №1 was assigned to the track, where people at a certain time for a swim.

Anatoly Kitov at the Desk

In one of the swimming pools, the Pope says: "we Need to come back to my work. A little nervous, be a serious matter." Then I found out that this was due to the launch of Sputnik — orbit calculations on the computer "Strela" standing in the EC No. 1. Swimming pool CSKA is in the metro "Airport", and VTS — near the metro station "Begovaya". It is near one area.

Winter pool CSKA in Moscow on the Leningrad prospectus. Source

Arrived was on duty major with the head I/h young, too, missed, besides, I was in short pants. And so, we went to the computer room. It was huge, 500 square meters. Many electronic lamps and harness. Then there was the visit-effect — came the chief and the computer failed. The duty engineer, the captain, began to run like lightning on this machine room, to seek the cause. Specific broken, the lamp system was not determined. He took out a huge block which had 20-30 of these bulbs — checked, and then pulled another. In the end, managed. Very energetic officer, like everything else in his shift.

In General, VTS-1 is a separate story. In 1950-e years, the largest computing center in the country and one of the largest in the world. It employed more than 1,000 people. Some mathematicians about 50 people, several hundred programmers — whether 200, or 300. A whole army. Young people mainly, took to the mechanics and mathematics of MSU and other leading universities in the country. To get to this secret organization was prestigious. Good salary, interesting work, given housing. Now in mailboxes no drag, because everyone wants to travel the world, and then in any case, nobody went, because did not let the border shut.

A solemn meeting in the EC-1 MO USSR. In the first row of the left — Colonel Anatoly Kitov

Talented young people. Powerful scientific elite: Lazar ' Aronovich Lusternik, Alexey Andreevich Lyapunov, Nikolai panteleimonovich of Buslenko, Igor Poletaev, Oleg Sosiura, Nicholas A. krinitskaya and several others. Very strong middle management — heads of laboratories, senior research staff, heads of departments. Basically, it was the veterans, people who went through the war and felt its calling. So was my father. Before the war, he wanted to be a nuclear physicist, two months spent at the University of physics and mathematics, but seeing "Katyusha", I realized that starts the missile era, and joined the faculty of the reactive arms of the Dzerzhinsky Academy. First job on the Queen. Did the R-1, the exact copy of the V-2. Then Stalin forbade any modification — only copy, and that took off.

Transportation of rocket R-1

The father has the invention, the fundamental article with mathematical calculations on missiles. But then came computers, and it fascinated him. Anatoly Ivanovich believed that the Foundation is mathematics. While still in the artillery Academy Dzerzhinsky, he received the personal permission of the head of the Academy to visit the seminars of Andrey Nikolaevich Kolmogorov at the mekhmat. He believed that mathematics develops the brain and improves the overall scientific culture. Therefore, we introduced additional training for all employees of VC-1 on mathematical courses together with training to work with computers and programming. New employees come from universities and were immediately sent to complete their education.

And how electronics was taught! The decision of the Government the first Soviet computers "Strela" was delivered to the Institute of applied mathematics, where the Director was Keldysh and was considered a nuclear reaction; in the research Institute "Almaz", where was created Raspletin air defense system; in VC-1 MO of the USSR, computing center of the Academy of Sciences in SRCC MSU. In the last two EC also considered the defence tasks and the floor, where stood a computer, closed — everything was secret.

In the middle of 1954, Anatoly Kitov signed the order in in/HR 01168: "Seconded the electronics engineers at SKB-245 to work together on the production computer "Strela" for VC-1". That is, engineers VTS-1 was sent to the place where the Arrow was doing. By specialization: one group of officers were thrown to the establishment of the AU (arithmetic unit), the other on the RAM, and the third on external drives, etc. And with weekly written progress reports. In the end, all assignment, exams joint Commission of representatives of SKB-245, and VC-1. Taught and studied in the 1950-ies.


After CRI "Monolit" (p/n R-6211) was a period when I was about two years he worked as head of laboratory of computer networking at the Institute of Cybernetics. There for agriculture did the control system for feeding of animals. It's very interesting. As cow feed, so she will give milk. Was a whole generation of programs of "feeding pigs", created in the laboratory of my colleague Sergey Weeds: complex "Boar-1", "Grunt-2", "Boar-3". Feeding cows there, as I recall, up to 60 ingredients, which depending on the time of year formed their food. Now the Russian company "the aplans-Europe" under the leadership of Igor Morozov made an interesting system for management of dairy systems for the UK. Now power management British cows occurs at our Russian algorithms.


At the beginning of 1991, the Corporation Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) — then the main competitor to the IBM — decided to open a representative office in the USSR. In the Soviet Union computers UCS was equivalent to the IBM 360 computers and SM computers — computers DEC. DEC did an amazing computer PDP 11/70, this. I in March 1991, has had five interviews and from April began to work. By the way, was the first Russian taken at work in the Moscow office. Do not rule out that largely due to the fact that oversaw the creation of OBI — competitive product IBM CICS. But the capitalist period of my work, probably a different story.


Tags: innovation , USSR

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