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Karl Adolfovich Krug

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Leader of the soviet electro-engineering.

Karl Krug — one of the most prominent soviet academics, belongs to the founders of Russian electrical science as academic subject. It was his personal contribution to establish the Moscow school of electrical science and engineering — recognised USSR leader. Beginning of the Russian revolution, in 1917, coincided with his creating scientific basis for the -subsequent- governmental top-priority program — famous as plan of the “State Electrification of Russia”. He remained its leading expert during the 1920-s. Its successful realisation provided scientific, economic, ideological and administrative foundations for the following rapid Soviet advance in national economy. The project itself greatly stimulated development of special researching and educational institutions. Later the power production industry became the first soviet civil “customer” for analog and digital computers.

Karl Adolfovich Krug

Krug Karl Adolfovich

K. Krug received fundamental European education in electricity and mathematics. He was one of the first Russian electricians — engineers and he himself became the first one to establish “electrical engineering” as educational course at technical universities of Moscow . Although he himself was not engaged in computer development he personally taught future specialists, such as the world leading computer pioneers Sergey Lebedev and Isaak Bruk . He founded in Moscow one of the Europe biggest scientific research centres — All-Union Electro-Engineering Institute, where they began their scientific careers, and he initiated and built Moscow Power Engineering Institute  — one of the biggest technical universities, which nurtured and formed most of the post-war generation of the soviet computer inventors and designers.

Karl Adolfovich Krug was born on the 6 th of July 1873 in Ukrainian town Nemirov. His father Adolf Karlovich Krug (1824-1877) was an agronomist, who had re-settled from Germany . That was a common thing, Germany was (almost always) one of the Russia ’s closest historical neighbours and partners. Therefore arrival and integration of German people, of all ranks, levels and specialities was a historical tradition. Many of them became prominent Russians.

His mother Leonia Fedorovna Krug (1848-1937) of Baltic-German origin, was a school teacher. The family had good position and cultural traditions but the father died when Karl was only four and Leonia Fedorovna moved to Moscow with their three children. By mere co-incidence they found a flat near historical German borough [1] and spent there almost whole their lives. As all major places of Krug’s study and work also lay there Karl Adol’fovich used to humorously remarked that he spent all his life not only in Moscow but within one particular district, “So it happened”. At present already the 5 th generation of the Krugs lives in Moscow.

He mastered the primary school subjects at home under the mother’s guidance and entered the Moscow 4 th Classical Gymnasium (grammar school). Financial position of the family was always pure, so Karl started practising private home teaching since he was in the sixth form. Combining of work and learning very well taught him how to value and orange time. Perfect self-organisation became one of his most characteristic features. Krug was lucky with school learning, the teachers were mainly very good specialists and taught mathematics and physics on much more extended level than usual. Especially interesting were lessons on electricity and magnetism — absolutely new subjects then.

Besides the school work young people paid much attention to sport and theatre. Each new performance caused genuine excitement. Moscow theatres were always numerous and popular and public stadiums were always full. Karl became very good ski runner, ice skate dancer and mountaineer. Later, in 1920, he received motorcycle driving licence, which is kept in family until now.

He graduated in 1892, with school-leaving certificate which stated his “exceptional mathematic talents” and recommended to continue mathematical education. However, he did not follow it and turned to engineering. Thus he entered the Moscow Higher Technical School[2] (MHTS)  — then the best Russian special technical institute. MHTS was founded in 1830 as a qualification school for educating industrial high level work-power (masters, foremen, etc.). Rapid advance of industrial revolution intensified its work and in 1868 it received status of technical university. Its development was essentially influenced with activity of German electrical company “Siemens”.

The company “Siemens” was first invited to Russia in 1851, with a task of laying cable lines for telegraph communications. It happened after demonstration by its founder — Werner von Siemens his own model of telegraph (1847) and a new technology of covering copper wires with rubber (caoutchouc) insulation. A few years later Karl von Siemens (1829-1906), his younger brother, settled in St. Petersburg establishing there the company’s affiliate[3], whose work proved to be so successful that in 1895 tsar Nikolay II personally awarded him an honourable Russian nobility. “Siemens” developed manufacturing of cables and other electrical production, built numerous power-plants, made city street- and in-house lighting, etc.

MHTS responded to industrial boom with increasing efforts. Among other it paid much attention to development of new efficient methods of labour organisation and technological processes, some of them very advanced for that time. As both the technical sciences and related teaching were mainly on forming stage it did a lot for improving teaching methods. MHTS enlisted numerous professors — pioneers of science of the world level, such as D.I. Mendeleyev [4] (chemistry), N. E. Zhukovskiy (aerodynamics), P. L. Chebyshev[5] (theory of mechanics), S. A. Chaplygin[6] (aerodynamics) and others. Especially popular became its method of initial training the future engineers in industrial trades[7] — the “Russian method”. It was awarded special “Big Gold Medal” at the world exhibition in Vienna in 1873. Its further world fame MHTS won in 1876 during the international exhibition in Philadelphia (USA) where it (the whole university) was presented as a single exhibit. Some of its innovations and ideas received broad international recognition.

During his study at MHTS Krug had to continue his private teaching, the family was still in need. He also found a job of turner at a Moscow railway car building plant.

Parallel to the main study he volunteered to more courses on physics and collaborated with some electrical companies, making project documentary for lighting circuits. “Electrical engineering” as special subject was not yet available, although electrical industry itself was growing like a snow ball. Qualified specialists were still invited from Germany, Sweden and other countries. However it could not meet growing demand and support the stable growth of production. The Ministry of education adopted program of preparing Russia ’s own electrical engineers. Several students were sent to European universities to obtain experience in teaching. The MHTS council confirmed K. Krug as the best graduate of 1898, and he was dispatched to Germany for two years.

The first year he spent at the Higher Technical School of Darmstadt by Professor Erasmus Kittler. Kittler was a good designer and expert in practical engineering, what pre-determinate style of his teaching. Russian students were not new in Darmstadt, e.g. famous specialist in alternating current motors M. O. Dolivo-Dobrovolskiy studied there 15 years before. One year in Darmstadt was enough for Krug to receive German diploma as electrician-engineer. At his second year he studied in Berlin at “Technische Hochschulle Scharlottenburg” (High Technical School in district of Scharlottenburg). He also worked for 5 months as an electrician at the Berlin electro-mechanical plant “Union”.

On his return to MHTS Krug began teaching physics and was engaged in establishing of new educational subject — electro-technics. In 1903 he received one more diploma (the third within 5 years!) passing all exams at the faculty of physics and mathematics of the Moscow University.

The beginning of new work was hard. No experience, no equipment, no traditions. Most important assistance of that time he received from participation in Moscow Polytechnic Society, what provided informal contacts with leading scientists[8]. However, the “decisive measures” were taken by the First Russian Revolution of 1905. Universities were finally granted “autonomy” and in the same year Krug succeeded in establishing of new (but so traditional for us) speciality “electrical engineering” at the MHTS. It was the Russia ’s first experience in that field.

Krug himself composed content material for new curriculum — it was general theory of electro-engineering where he incorporated numerous new mathematical methods. His lectures were regularly published since 1906, and in 1916 they were re-published as the single book “Fundamentals of Electro-Engineering”. The book alone would be good enough as testimonial of his scientific contribution. He himself thoroughly revised it six times. For example its issue of 1932 already numbered 1500 pages. It was also published after his death, in the 1960-s, -70-s, -80-s and remains among the basic course-books until now. Everybody always called it just “Krug” and the nick-name stuck to it so fast that he himself used to refer to it that way.

In 1911 he again visited Darmstadt, where he successfully submitted his dissertation thesis for scientific degree “Doktor Ingeneur” (Germ.). A series of materials on his research was published by German scientific periodicals and in 1913 publishing house “Springer” of Berlin issued it as single book.

Beside teaching at MHTS Krug, as “convinced applied worker”, was in charge of electrical department at the “Moscow Administration of Fuels” — now it could be named like, “Commission on Power Resources”. Beginning from 1911 he studied there the problem of electrification in 14 administrative districts of the so-called “Central Industrial District of Russia”. Within several years a team of experts collected enormous factual material according to his methodical guidance. His monograph “Electrification of the Central Industrial District” — scientific summary of the whole work was prepared in 1916, however, the Revolutionary events of 1917 delayed its publication until 1918. Anyway, that research, which thoroughly proved urgency of intensive development in power-production remained the only work of so high scientific level and value on the subject. Krug grew up to recognised expert and authority. His undoubted scientific and organisational merits consisted in complex solution of the whole problem of electrical power production. He demonstrated its connections with transport, fuel and acceleration of industrial development in general with new power sources. Here he demonstrated brilliant practical talents. The work proved its high value and necessity soon after the revolution, when new efficient means of struggle with economical crisis and perspective development programs were urgently searched for.

During the years of depression in university life, caused by the civil war destruction (1918-1920), Krug and his colleague — professor Karl Vasilyevich Kirsch (1877-1919) established so-called “Committee on Warmth” to support the industry and communal services suffering form severe fuel and power crisis. As that activity proved its high efficiency, especially at the enterprises performing military orders, it was supported by the new administration — Supreme Council of National Economy. Soon the university lectures were resumed. Krug became the dean of “Electro-engineering” faculty at the MHTS and started its modernisation. That was an exhausting work, most of collaborators and students were still on fronts of the Civil War and he alone had to deliver lectures 8 hours a day during more than 2 years.

The situation greatly improved in 1920, after establishing government commission on working out the plan of “State Electrification of Russia” (SER)[9]. On recommendation from Prof. G. M. Krzhizhanovskiy — managing director of the project, well familiar with Krug’s research, V. I. Lenin immediately suggested Krug’s appointment as leading scientific expert in SER program[10]. Krug, who never worked “with half-power”, was one of its most active participants. He was engaged both in working with plan of electrification and in the whole industrial development. He also was in charge of electrification of agricultural industry, what was described in his monograph of 1921. The whole project was directed by the USSR State Commission on Planning — supreme administrative office on the national economy. Krug was its member in 1921-1930.

The global plan needed a mass of qualified young specialists. Therefore new electrical faculties were urgently established in various towns, but qualified teachers were prepared only at Polytechnic Institute in Leningrad and by the overloaded MHTS. Besides, none of the available educational institutes could stably conduct scientific researches in amount and on scientific level necessary for the big state program. It was clear that principally new powerful scientific-research centre should be created as soon as possible. However it happened so that, seemingly, logical and rational idea had to be “struggled through” the bureaucratic barriers.

On 5.10.1921 Krug was appointed the director of new State Experimental Electrotechnical Institute (SEEI), later re-named into All-Union Institute for Electro-Engineering (AIEE) .

In spite of the official governmental decision he was not provided with any premises, equipment or financial resources. Anticipating impressive bureaucratic red tape he began doing all possible work for the new institute in free rooms of old MHTS. In December of 1921 he made a personal visit to Lenin, who already knew him from the work in SER. That was the right move. Lenin reacted immediately. On the 17 th of December 1921 Krug was given 100000 gold Roubles from the government account (unbelievable sum for the time of economic destruction) and within few days dispatched to Germany for purchasing necessary equipment. In the Spring of the next -1922- year he returned with all appliances needed to start systematic researches. Soon after the return Krug himself found two acceptable buildings which, again with Lenin’s personal participation, were given to his complete disposal.

Karl Krug was interested only in scientific qualification and abilities, and human (or moral) values of his collaborators. The problems of ideology or religious issues were of no significance for him. Most of all he hated political demagogy and idle talk. Thus he invited the best specialists: professors M. V. Shuleikin, K. I. Shenfer (famous expert on electric motors), A. N. Larionov (electro-engineering) and many others. He even invited famous “disgraced priest” Pavel Florenskiy (1882-1943) — a mathematician, an orthodox priest, philosopher, and scientist on electricity, whom he appointed his deputy on scientific work. After the Civil War Florenskiy was prohibited to continue his religious activity and, thanks to Krug’s invitation, worked at AIEE the following 10 years. However, with beginning, by the end of the 1920-s, political campaign against religious ideology he was arrested in 1932 and later perished in prison. Anyway this episode is a good illustration of Krug’s personality.

Speaking about development of the institute one should clearly realise general situation in Russian science and education of that time. Probably the notion “polarisation” (unbalanced) would be the most appropriate. In the beginning of the 20 th century Russia could be rightfully proud with its scientific names, traditions and discoveries. Its educational system belonged to the most democratic and accessible ones but in reality its scientific circle was rather small and at least three quarters of its population scarcely had any education at all. Tsarist Russia basically remained the land of peasants whose patriarchal traditions were still superior and slowly changing. Four years of the murdering World War I, followed by two more years of the Civil War, brought situation to almost catastrophic level. In fact remaining scientists of the first half of the 1920-s still belonged to the pre-revolutionary “old school”. The process of forming “new powers” was far from simple. On the other hand the new soviet government did everything possible for improving the situation. Science and learning became the state priority number one. It was really an “educational revolution” of clear explosive character. School education became compulsory and all possible forms of parallel, evening, remote and auxiliary learning flourished. Free education accessible for everybody became basic social norm. Universities were full and the new young generation began total “advance for knowledge”. It would not be big exaggeration to say that learning was considered a sort of social duty, criteria of personal values and even a “new religion”. Social level became directly associated with the educational one. By the end of the 1920-s enthusiastic attitude to learning already demonstrated results in general economic progress. However it needed a reasonable time.

Meanwhile Krug invited not only famous scholars but always searched for young promising graduates. Thus in 1928 he supervised diploma project of his able MHTS student and devoted researcher Sergey Lebedev . After his graduation Krug made him a lecturer at the MHTS and in parallel a scientific collaborator at AIEE, where Lebedev was soon awarded professorship (at the age of 32). Researches on power transmission networks needed enormous amount of calculations, therefore Lebedev, who could not spend a day without work (like his teacher), quite logically turned also to idea of computing machinery.

An interesting episode took place at Lebedev’s laboratory in 1934. Lebedev grew interested in research of his young trainee, student Anatoly Netushil[11] who made his university practicum by Lebedev and studied a flip-flop based electronic counter of charged elementary particles, used in physical researches. Lebedev supposed that it could be used in computing devices. He persuaded Netushil to continue that work. Later he helped the young researcher with formalities in official submission of his dissertation thesis. As Netushil’s parents suffered political oppressions his academic career was endangered.

In 1940-41 Lebedv began theoretical experiments with binary codes for computations. Although the war interrupted his computer projects he successfully continued them in 1947.

Isaak Bruk  — Another famous graduate of MHTS ( also began his career at AIEE and made computing (analog) systems for modelling power transmission networks already before the war.

Krug’s personal energy and insistence made possible two more his journeys to Germany, in 1925 and 1928 (with 50000 and 300000 gold Roubles respectively). Both times he went there with some younger colleagues to study experience of German and Dutch scientific centres and to bring more equipment for AIEE laboratories. It was the time of “Electric Power Boom” — beginning of explosive industrial development and the researches of AIEE were in -rapidly increasing- demand. The institute was constantly extending until it finally turned into a “scientific town” within town. It received additional territory and several new buildings were constructed. Krug always personally managed building works, being, as his colleagues commented, “himself an architect, a drawing man and a land-surveyor”. All that time he also headed the faculty at the MHTS, continued scientific work and was active participant in the State Commission on Planning. No wander that he had no vacations for -at least- ten years. One also should not forget that his 60-years jubilee was approaching. In 1933 he was elected to the USSR academy of sciences. On top of that, in 1937 he began lecturing at the new —

Moscow Power Engineering Institute — MPEI (technical university).

The new scientific basis was being created by Krug and his colleagues, and the more it was growing the more it was “spurring” them. Coinciding with industrial boom it caused enormous demand for young specialists of higher qualification. With assistance of the minister for “heavy industry[12]” Sergo Ordzhonikidze, in 1934, Krug began creation of new technical university — MPEI which in a sense grew up (or split) from the electro-engineering faculty of the MHTS in 1931. There is no need to say that it was built entirely with Krug’s own projects. He even designed furniture for its lecture-halls. It was the USSR first university campus, that is its educational buildings, research laboratories, libraries, numerous student hostels, a club and two stadiums are concentrated in the same place. Territory of MPEI is in fact extension of the AIEE territory, so the both form a huge compound. Since October 1941 until mid-1950-s it was headed by a new rector Valeria Golubtsova[13] — an outstanding person who managed to keep it functioning on full scale even during the hardest war period, when it was evacuated to the East. She also greatly contributed to the university’s post-war development.

In the post-war period MPEI turned into the USSR biggest university for electro-engineering. By the 1950-s it already had affiliates in three other towns and numbered about 25000 students. MPEI had nine faculties (each big enough to be a single institute). The faculty of radio-engineering with its detailed and fundamental studying of electronic devices was the best place for the future computer specialists in the post-war years. Many of the first young designers were its graduates.

They were: Nikolay Matyukhin, ( Mikhail Kartsev (, Nikolay Brusentsov, Tamara Alexandridi, Natalya Dorokhova (Kartseva), Grigoriy Lopato, Vsevolod Burtsev (, Vladimir Levin, Boris Naumov, Viktor Przhiyalkovskiy (, Vladislav Resanov.

Academician V. Kotel’nikov who formulated fundamentals of radio-electronics, digital systems, etc. studied at the MHTS and graduated from the MPEI in 1931, when it just appeared.

Also many computer scientists worked or taught at the MPEI.

Academician M. A. Gavrilov , famous for his “Gavrilov’s school of technical logic” (and automatic control) — absolute world leader in that field for several post-war decades. In 1934 he established here a chair of “automatics and remote-mechanics” and was its first scientific head for many years.

Academician Vladimir Mel’nikov , a pupil of Sergey Lebedev and author of supercomputers “Electronica” graduated from this faculty in 1951.

Bashir Rameev (, who began his study at MPEI, taught there one of the Moscow two first courses on computers.

Beginning of the 1950-s in the USSR was marked with ideological criticism of the cybernetics. When it was over a faculty of automatics and computer engineering was established at the MPEI in autumn 1958. Notably, it was A. V. Netushil who became its first dean. That was one of the first cybernetic centres among universities. Dr . German Krug — son of K . A . Krug headed its scientific laboratory. Many of his students and post-graduates became famous scientists especially in application of statistic methods. E.g. A. Lisenkov became the leading expert for planning of experiments under non-uniform conditions. Later  G. K. Krug headed chair of automatics until 1990-s.

Despite his obvious and impressive administrative achievements Krug-the scientist was never satisfied with role of “a big boss”. Besides, a new generation of higher administrators, that formed itself in the 1920-s, was in advance. Although Krug had stable positions in all his offices, paying attention for permanent bureaucratic competition would be a senseless wastage of time for a person like him. On the other hand a new scientific and engineering problem arose in the beginning of the 1930-s, it was the transmission of electrical power over big distances. Just a glance on the map of Russia (USSR) with its dimensions is a good proof of its importance. New scientific dimensions needed new methods and technologies. No wander that research on power transmission directed first scientific steps of his famous pupils Sergey Lebedev and Isaak Bruk to computers.

Since 1941 Krug, already as academician, headed department of electro-engineering (later Laboratory of Direct Current) at the Power Institute[14] of the USSR Academy of Sciences. It was in the late 1940-s at the Power Institute, where Isaak Bruk established laboratory and headed the team of MPEI graduates assembling the first small computers M-1 and M-2.

Karl Krug was always distinguished with conscientiousness (both human and scientific) and “extreme” self-organisation ability. He never forgot anything and never broke his promise — everybody knew that. Also everybody knew that he never had any diary except for telephone and address book. Krug was convinced that only those who keep everything in mind could work really productive. His own memory was simply phenomenal.

“Living means working!”, he used to say, and so he did. He kept on working until his last day, and when he -suddenly- left this world nobody got a feeling of death, he just “did not come to work”. It happened on the 24 th of April 1952.

He was decorated with two “Lenin Orders”, two orders “Red Banner of Labour”, with order “Sign of Honour” and medals.

Academician Karl Adolfowich Krug did not invent computers himself but he greatly contributed to their birth by creating appropriate scientific and educational conditions.


1. German borough was established near Moscow in about the 17 th century, as living quarter for foreign tradesmen, masters, etc. of non-Orthodox Christian religions. It had noticeable economic and cultural influence on city life and also produced famous names including notable statesmen. During the 18 th century its inhabitants were moving to settle all round Moscow and the borough lost its specific character. However, now with the growth of the city, it still remains a historical, place in Moscow administrative district (named «Baumann district») near to the centre.

2. Now one of Russia ’s biggest technical universities.

3. The firm «Siemens» remained in Russia «forever» (with exception for the WW-II). In 2001 it ceremonially celebrated its jubilee «Siemens in Russia — 150 years».

4. Dmitry Mendeleyev — created famous «Periodical Table of Elements».

5. Pafnutiy L. Chebyshev — academician of Russian and French academies for theory of mechanics; he also devised one of the first mechanical computing machines whose operation was based on complex mathematical lows.

6. Prof. S. A. Chaplygin — a pupil of N.E. Zhukivskiy was a pioneer in aerodynamics of objects moving with high speed.

7. Industrial engineer was obliged to study manufacturing process and technologies up to smallest detail.

8. Russian scientific circles were always distinguished with democratic traditions.

9. Historically famous Russian title for SER reads — «GO-EL-RO» (GOsudarstvennaya ELectrifikatsiya ROssii).

10. Besides recognition of his scientific merits and Lenin’s personal positive feelings to Krug there was the new state policy of «involving old specialists» into economic, scientific, etc. live. Then there were no «new specialists» anyway. However the situation changed already in the 1930-s.

11. Anatoly Vladimirovich Netushil (1915-1998) professor, famous scientist in the field of theoretical and applied electricity. His grandfather (of Czech origin) was a rector of Kharkov university and member of Russian (Emperor’s) Academy of Sciences . Anatoly Netushil studied at the Moscow Power Engineering Institute (see also) and worked there in 1945-1971. First at chair of theory of electrical engineering, since 1958 as dean of faculty of automatics and computer engineering. In 1947 he received scientific degree for dissertation thesis «Analysis of flip-flop components of electronic counting circuits».

12. Official name for the branch of steel and other metals production, heavy plant equipment, e.g. hot rolling mills, etc.

13. Valeria Alexeyevna Golubtsova — wife of the future USSR prime-minister G. M. Malenkov (1953-1955) (Chairman of the Council of Ministers). She was an outstanding administrator, who continued Krug’s ideas on education and essentially contributed to growing of the MPEI into one of the biggest and most progressive technical universities of its time. With approaching of the German armies to Moscow in 1941 the whole institute (with all students and important scientific equipment) was evacuated to the East Kazakhstan (about 4000 Km from Moscow ), where it continued work until 1943. Then it returned and resumed normal functioning in Moscow . Its academic level was so high that the students of senior university years were not called to army during the war, as they were considered to be important industrial specialists. (Russ. — )

14. named after G. M. Krzhizhanovskiy.


  1. Main source of the article — «Karl Adolfovich Krug», Moscow-Leningrad, 1956.
    It is a solid monograph written by Prof. L. D. Belkind — an expert on history of science. Absolute majority of information that can be found in Internet on K. Krug is taken from this source.
  2. Prof. T. M. Alexandridi. Memories.
  3. "History of university" ( — (Moscow High Technical School)
  4. German Karlovich Krug (Russ.)
  5. Anatoliy Vladimirovich Netushil (Russ.)
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