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Historic Review on the ES Computers Family

Home → Articles → Historic Review on the ES Computers Family.Part three - final

Part three - final

Unfortunately, big integrated circuits of matrix type did not come into mass production until the end of ES Computers-3 period itself. Nevertheless, general attitude of the electronic industry's higher administration towards the matrix crystals eventually changed, and it was planned to finally begin their manufacturing in limited number of basic modifications. At the same time -in 1984- computers of companies „Amdahl“, Fujitsu“, „Hitachi“ and the senior IBM computers, already had matrix integrated circuits.

The architecture of IBM-370 computers had essentially developed in the sense of its extension beyond 24 bits and organization of the channels functioning in the flow mode. However, realization of that architecture on basis of microcircuitry with medium integration rate was absolutely irrational, because it would cause unacceptably excessive dimensions and required power supply as well as insufficient reliability. Therefore, the second part of the ES Computers-3 program (computers ES-1037, ES-1047, ES-1067) was practically not realized because of the lack of microelectronic components. As the result of this, the rate of ES architecture inferiority to the IBM computers was increasing.

 In 1983 administration of the SIDEC made attempt to improve the situation with development and manufacturing of big integrated circuits by way of division of labor. Tracing of the two layers of chip, determining its functions, should be done directly at the SIDEC, which, in its turn, received the basic matrix crystals from electronic components producing plant „Micron“. For this purpose a special complex research and manufacturing department was established and equipped at the SIDEC. The USSR Ministry of Radio-Industry (MRI) rendered essential assistance for that project.

Unfortunately, in May 1985, very soon after M. Gorbachev (then the secretary-general of the USSR Communist party Central Committee; ed.) had procalmed his program of the state „perestrojka/rebuilding“ and „acceleration“, the minister of the MRI, who was afraid of probable administrative reorganization related with the „new political trends“, separated the new department from the main SIDEC structure. Rather unexpectedly that caused so numerous scientific, administrative and financial conflicts between those „partners“ - developers of computers and of big integrated circuits, that the first computer with experimental matrix big integrated circuits eventually appeared only in 1988, as the model ES-1087 (ЕС-1087). With purpose of concentrating the developers' attention only on manufacturing the big integrated circuits (BIC), the decision was made to design/produce each circuit of computer ES-1066 as a BIC, to place the BIC there and thus to transform ES-1066 into ES-1087. Indeed, that was the most economical way of BICs implementation in computers because their logic structure and testing were already well developed. On the other hand this solution did not allow to utilize all advantages of the BICs (increased performance, reduction of the computer sizes and needs in power supply and increased reliability). 

Magnetic disks storage unit ES-5061

Magnetic disks storage unit ES-5061

Performance of double-processor computer ES-1087.20 reached 15 Mips (upon Gibson-3 mixture) and 4.5 Mips (GPO-WU mixture) for economic calculations. The computer had very high input/output speed – about 36 Mb/sec. In comparison with ES-1066, its power consumption decreased for 40%. In 1988 the computer was tested by the governmental commission, which found it good and promising, and recommended for serial manufacturing. However, the computer plant in the town of Penza, which was selected for making ES-1087.20 refused to start its serial production, complaining with shortage of financial means and free technological equipment necessary for beginning new manufacturing program. Notably, that refusal was one of the first demonstrations of the USSR economic structure changing results; that was the beginning of the USSR state planning system dismounting. 

In the mid-1980s, taking under consideration the situation with producing the matrix BIC and super big integrated microcircuits for storage units, the Council of Chief Designers proposed new conception and program of the ES computers further development works. Thus, it was proposed to perform two big programs, namely: the program of ES Computers-4 („Ryad-4“ /„Row-4“) and the program of personal computers production and development.

Conception of the ES Computers-4 was approved at the 27th session of the Intergovernmental Commission on Computing Machinery, May 1987. The soviet part of the ES Computers-4 („Ryad-4“) program was adopted by the directive of the USSR Council of Ministers № 645/155 (from the 16th of June 1987).

That series of ES computers was planned for „implementation for solution of broad spectrum of problems in computation networks and the -so-called- „centres of collective usage“, for automated control systems of various levels, automated design systems with technological and economic parameters equal to the contemporary world achievements' level and with performance/costs ratio 2-3 times higher in comparison with the corresponding models of the ES Computers-3 series“. Also, the „Row-4“ computers should have „increased reliability, based on usage of microprocessors, BICs and super-BICs, with broad range of peripheral devices, including those for access to systems with the use of graphic data and images, with hard-and-software data and knowledge bases control means and with highly developed software systems“.

The ES Computers-4 program included development of three basic computers: ES-1130, ES-1170 and ES-1181, with performance 2, 5-8 and 30 Mips correspondingly. Besides of that, on numerous requests of the users received during preparation of the program, two more big machines were added. Those were work-station ES-1107 with built-in means for networks operation and supercomputer ES-1191 with performance of 1 milliard ops. Development of supercomputer ES was a sort of reaction to delay in manufacturing supercomputers „Elbrus-2“ and „Elbrus-3“ (IPM CM) and to demands of some principal enterprises, such as Central Institute of Aero- and Hydrodynamics, Institute of Applied Mathematics and some others, which had approved technical assignment for it.

Beside that, development of several computation complexes based on the senior ES computers, as well as some specialized processors, were also included in working plans. The processors were: the matrix one (Erevan Scientific-research Institute of Mathematical machines /Armenia/), macroconveyer processor (Kiev Institute of Cybernetics Ukrainian Academy of Sciences), processor with dynamic architecture (Leningrad Research Institute of Automatics, design. V.A. Torgashev) and the processor with programmable architecture (Taganrog Radio-Technology Institute, design. A.V. Kalayaev).

The main features of the projected hard- and software should be the following:

Performing of the listed functions needed development of a number of new peripheral devices, mastering of about 50 principally new technological processes, improvement of 40 serially produced materials' quality, organization of 20 new materials production, development and production of 100 types of special highly automated equipment, as well as re-equipment and re-building of many existing manufacturing enterprises.

In addition to that, according to the earlier governmental decision and directive, the Europe's biggest plant producing magnetic disks storage units (with capacity of 317 and 635 Mb) was in the process of construction. More than 150 million US Dollars were invested in it (in prices of that time; ed.).

The Directive of the USSR government on organization and beginning of the personal computers production was released in January 1986. It was preceded by prolonged discussion between the ministries of radio and electronic industries. The main point of it was the choice of optimal architecture. Administration of the Ministry of Electronic Industry was going to design its personal computers on basis of the PDP-11 architecture (or the computer Electronica-60, to be more exact) and then the discussion arose between the Ministry of Radio Industry and the USSR State Planning Committee on the subject of necessary investments.

Eventually, the mentioned Directive ordered the both ministries and also the Ministry of Instrumentation to begin serial production of about one million (IBM PC compatible) personal computers in the nearest possible time. Development and design of the computers was trusted to the Minsk Scientific-research Institute of Electronic Computers (MSIEC) of the USSR Ministry of Radio Industry. For their production it was also decided to build one more Europe's biggest computer plant, that time in Kishinev (Moldavia), and the plant for producing magnetic disk memory devices („Winchester“ type) in the town of Kostroma (Higher Volga region, not far from Moscow). While the Kishinev plant was in construction, the computers were manufactured by the computer producing enterprise in Minsk.

Within a short time the MSIEC team (chief designers V.Ya. Pykhtin, A.P. Zapolskiy, V.V. Viter) designed 12 types of personal ES Computers (ПЭВМ ЕС-ЭВМ) compatible with IBM PC/XT, IBM PC/AT, IBM XT/370.

The last model provided software compatibility with computers ES and IBM-370. Three models of personal computers compatible with IBM PC/XT, IBM PC/AT and IBM XT/370 were designed for the Ministry of Defence. The military models were manufactured at the electro-mechanics plant in the town of Brest (Byelorussia). After dissolving of the Soviet Union, that military computer ES-1855 was developed and produced by SIDEC. The Soviet electronic industry produced only 8-byte analog of Intel microprocessor, that was why the 16- and 32-byte personal computers appeared only after 1990, when it was possible to buy them in other countries. The number of personal computers produced in Minsk is given in the following table.

PC model

Production beginning

Production finishing

Produced, piec.

ЕS-1840

1986

1989

7 461

ЕS-1841

1987

1995

83 937

ЕS-1842

1988

1996

10 193

ЕS-1843

1990

1993

3 012

ЕS-1849

1990

1997

4 966

ЕS-1851

1991

1997

3 142

ЕS-1863

1991

1997

3 069

Total

 

 

115 780

Decreasing of the personal computers production after 1991 and its complete cease in 1997 were mainly caused by dissolving of the USSR and re-orientation of the Russian market at the western computers (inc. PCs), which had better parameters and -above all- higher reliability. Besides that, the long period of inflation reduced financial possibilities of producing enterprises practically to the zero point. From the very beginning of new economic reforms newly emerging private enterprises received priority status (for example, price-forming regulations were much more favorable and simple for them), what resulted in their possession of all PC import and, a little later, their assembly in Russia. At the same time, none of them had either economic interest or manufacturing possibilities for supporting and continuing development of Russian own personal computers.

Nevertheless, on the author's opinion, the personal computers ES produced before that time in Russia and Byelorussia had played notable positive role in initiating the national PC market.

Unfortunately, same as in the personal computers case, the program of the soft-and-hardware development for ES Computers-4 - the last national universal computer development program of the USSR, degraded and eventually dissolved.

In 1988 three scientific and manufacturing enterprises, controlled by scientific-research institutes, were organized on basis of two heading departments of the Ministry of Radioindustry. Generally speaking, the idea was rather rational because it was directed to extend independence of the enterprises from the ministerial bureaucracy. However, in that case the plants producing computers designed at the SIDEC were subjected to other ministries. As result of it, relations and communication between designers and manufacturers of the ES computers senior models became essentially complicated. The ministerial investments were steadily cut each year. Thus, only 1 Mio Rubles (really small sum then) were assigned for hard-and-software development in 1998. The IBM corporation spent about 4,5 milliard dollars in the same year. The costs and complexity of researches, especially on microelectronics, were (and still are) growing each year, but the general situation in the country (at that time) did not provide any possibility to make substantial investments.

In the second half of 1989 financing of the ES-1170 program at the Scientific-research Institute of Mathematical Machines (Erevan, Armenia) and at Special Design Bureau of the computer plant in Kazan (Russia) was ceased. The works on hard-and-software for remote data-processing systems were also stopped. After that, the matrix big integrated circuits I-300 were produced by plant „Micron“ only for supercomputers „Elbrus-3-1“. That was the reason of delays in development of ES-1181.

In 1998 only the works on ES-1130 were performed in usual normal tempo. It was designed with 11 types of microcircuits, of the K-1800 microprocessor set, which were produced by the Vilnius enterprise „Venta“ (Lithuania). Those were micro-circuits of the medium integration level, however, then, they were quite acceptable for computer ES-1130 (ЕС-1130).

Development of that computer was successfully finished in 1989. Comparing with earlier ES-1036 it had five times higher performance, it was twice as small in size and needed five times less electric power. It demonstrated decisive influence of microelectronics integration degree on technical and economic characteristics of computers. Although the economic situation in the country was getting complicated about 230 such computers were sold to various customers. Dissolving of the USSR caused problems with micro-circuits supply from Lithuania and selling of big computers in Russia. In 1995 production of ES-1130 was closed.

Real possibility to produce matrix big integrated circuits I-300B (about 1200 logic valves on a crystal) appeared in SIDEC only in 1993-94. However, by that time scientific team of the institute had lost a great deal of its human staff and creative power and already could not completely realize extended architecture IBM 370/XA in computer ES-1181. They only managed to step over the border of 24 byte address and somehow extend channel functions. The computer was manufactured and tested in 1995 in Moscow. Its performance reached 10 Million ops, RAM capacity was 32 Mb. Computer was mounted in a single cabinet smaller in size then ES-1066. Its important advantage consisted in absence of special ventilation system, what essentially reduced necessary amount of construction works in the places (usually, computation centres) where those computers should be installed. Unfortunately, the computer appeared with some „historical delay“, in other words, it was produced when the Russian market of universal computers had been already destroyed.

In the same 1995, Moscow enterprise producing ES computers closed that program and in 1997 the same happened with manufacturing of the personal computers.

By that time the computer production in Kazan and in Penza was already closed, as well as the manufacturing of peripheral devices, storage units, etc. for the needs of ES computers, which were produced by 14 computer plants in Russia.

Thus, once powerful branch of industry with yearly production of more then 2 Milliard rubles ceased its existence.

ES-1181

ES-1181

The table below illustrates production of the ES computers during the progress of that program. For comparison, one should recall the numbers of the most popular computers (the „working horses“ of the soviet computer centres of the 1st and 2nd generations). Thus, the number of computers „Ural-1“  was 183, the series of „Ural-2,-3,-4“ - 191, „Ural-11,-14,-16“ - 325. Release of computers M-220 and M-222 totaled 502, „BESM-3“ and „BESM-4“ - 441, „BESM-6“ („the best one“) - 454. The most numerous ones of the second generation – computers „MINSK“ (Minsk-2/22, Minsk-23 and Minsk-32) altogether – 3906.

It is obvious that the most flourishing period in the history of soviet computer industry was connected with the general state program of the ES computers, under guidance of the East-European Intergovernmental Cooperation Commission on computer development.

The data displayed in the table include only the Soviet and Bulgarian computers. The German (GDR) computers ES-1040 and ES-1055 were (additionally) imported by the USSR, about a hundred a year. 

Computer model

1970-1975

1976-1980

1980-1985

1986-1990

Total in 1970-1997

ЕS-1020

595

160

-

-

755

ЕS-1030

310

126

-

-

436

ЕS-1050

20

67

-

-

87

ЕS-1022

100

3300

428

-

3828

ЕS-1033

-

1249

1051

-

2300

ЕS-1052

-

35

39

-

74

ЕS-1035

-

105

1711

322

2138

ЕS-1045

-

50

1716

-

1766

ЕS-1060

-

103

212

-

315

ЕS-1061

-

-

186

380

566

ЕS-1065

-

-

2

3

5

ЕS-1036

-

-

94

1979

2073

ЕS-1046

-

-

12

1615

1627

ЕS-1066

-

-

14

408

422

ЕS-1068

-

-

-

16

18

ЕS-1007

-

-

-

251

251

ЕS-1130

-

-

-

237

237

ЕS-1181

-

-

-

-

1

ЕS-1220

-

-

-

20

20

Total

1025

5195

5465

5231

16919

After dissolving of the USSR most of the ES computers remained in Russia. Changes of the 1990s led to destruction of the centralized service and technical maintenance system for those computers. For that reason, at present there is no more statistic data on available computers and conditions of their operation. However, according to some estimations, there were about 5000 operating ES computers in 1999. Most probably many of their users preserved or even developed the software accumulated during their work with ES computers. It is known, that after closing ES computers production about 2000 users replaced their worn-out magnetic disks with Winchester type storage from personal computers, which were controlled either with the use of the PCs or with special controllers. About 1500 users changed their ES computers for rather cheap second-hand IBM-4381. About 100 users bought IBM ES-9000. New Russian companies RESTART and „ES-Leasing“ established on basis of former SIDEC, transfer older ES software to new IBM platforms. Therefore, one could say that the attempts to preserve and modernize the ES software, which had been worked out during many years, continued for a long time and, possibly, later provided some creative impulses for contemporary computer (software) development in Russia.

Literature sources:

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31.01.2015

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