Sergey Arkadevich Krutovskikh
Edition and translation: Alexander Nitusov
Sergey Arkadevich Krutovskikh was born in 1928 in Ulyanovsk (on middle Volga ). His professional education he received in town of Kuibyshev – an industrial centre, lying also on Volga near Ulyanovsk . In 1951 he graduated from the Kuibyshev Industrial Institute as engineer on the electrical equipment of industrial enterprises and was dispatched to Moscow for work at the Special Design Bureau-245 (SDB-245). He began his engineering career being involved in development of electromechanical differential analysers “Integral- 1” and ”Integral-3M”
Sergey Arkadevich Krutovskikh
In the beginning of 1956 Krutovskikh was appointed as the head of the department engaged in development of semiconductor components subsequently produced for computers. He demonstrated good managing skills on new position and soon essentially improved production policy in his field. First of all he quit the tradition of self-made semiconductor components (acceptable at the beginning basically for lack of better choice) and established efficient cooperation with some manufacturing enterprises of electronic producing industry. Within frames of that co-operation SDB-245 specialised in development of circuitry and also in methods and instrumentation for the produced components parameter control.
Planar transistors P-6 and P-16 were the first practical results of that cooperation. In 1956-1958 they were produced in big series and implemented in computation complex “Rodon”. In the beginning of the 1960-s they were widely used in number of universal and special computers. As the cooperation demonstrated definitely positive results it was essentially extended, what enabled mass production of the first Soviet hybrid microcircuits “Tropa” and “Posol”. They were followed by 15 more series of solid-state microcircuits, including so popular as “Logika- 2” and “IS- 500” .
In 1957 Krutovskikh was appointed as chief designer of the computer “Radon”, which was in fact ordered by the Ministry of Defence for modernisation of antiaircraft systems. That was a project of principal importance for SDB-245, which had decisive influence on its further existence. During development of “Radon” computers SDB-245 was extended and transformed into the Scientific-Research Institute of Control Computers (SRICC), in 1960. In the same year Krutovskikh was appointed as the new institute director and again faced the problem of re-organisation. That time both the structure and design methods practised at the SDB-245 needed upgrading to be brought in correspondence with needs of contemporary industry. Due to his energy and administrative talents the institute underwent total re-organisation. New system of performing scientific projects was introduced, what was accompanied with promotion of talented technical leaders and designers, also of younger generation. All that finally made the institute an efficient and progressive scientific organisation.
In 1964 all works on computer “Radon” were completed; it was the first Soviet semiconductor computer. It was created in full accordance with military norms and demands. Special representatives of the Ministry of Defence constantly monitored the whole process of its design and production.
Computation complex “Rodon” was one of the USSR first computer systems with possibility of twin-processor and also twin-computer operation mode. That was the reason, why it reached unprecedented (for that time) level of reliability. It was mounted in various antiaircraft installations and operated for surprisingly long time. That was a notable achievement, what attracted attention of the higher authorities. In 1963 the USSR Council of Ministers special Commission on military production assigned the SRICC official status of the leading organisation on onboard computers development. Krutovskih himself was appointed as designer in chief of new series of on-board computers “Argon”.
By the end of 1968 the institute was running 11 projects of various computers “Argon” intended for operation in aircraft, rocket, space and other vehicles. Design of all of them was based on unified technological and engineering solutions and schemes. The unified series of hybrid and monolithic micro-circuitry were equally implemented. Krutovskikh himself led the following projects:
- “layer-by-layer growth” manufacturing technology for highly reliable multi-layer printed boards;
- unified book-form design of on-board computers;
- selection of portable ferrite-core memory units, both RAM and ROM, which corresponded military demands to reliability, etc.;
- complex of appliances for automatic production and control of ferrite matrixes, printed boards, computer units, etc;
- highly reliable computer construction, based on ternary (parallel) structures and introducing priority -unit by unit- hierarchy of hardware;
By 1968 the institute already possessed powerful, well-equipped department for experimental production and testing of “pilot” on-board computers, according to military norms.
The institute itself had already reached the level of contemporary research centre. Although Krutovskikh was in charge of organisational work of the whole institute, he paid special attention to development of on-board computer “Argon-11-S” – world-first computer operating in space as a part of a system of space objects named “Space Probe”. That space structure circled the moon and made photos of its backside in the end of the 1960-s.
In 1965 he submitted dissertation thesis and received (the first) scientific degree “candidate of technical sciences”. His experience of research and design of computing complex “Radon” formed the core of that work. Soon after the government set up a new inter-branch coordination council of on-board computers designers in chief. Krutovskikh was appointed as its chairman by the governmental decision. Main functions of the council consisted in propagation and distribution of the institute experience in the on-board computers development. It should also work out common standards and unified principal scientific and engineering solutions for the whole brunch.
In the end of 1968 the USSR Central Party Committee (the highest administrative body) and the Council of Ministers Presidium commission on problems of military-production jointly adopted another decision, Krutovskikh's institute was fully subjected to the research and production complex – Scientific-Research Institute of Digital Electronic Computers (SRIDEC). According to order of the USSR minister of the radio-producing industry, who was in charge of the USSR computer production, Krutovskikh was appointed as the director of the whole new complex and designer in chief of new computers ES. That time his principal task consisted in production of big family of principally new computers. ES line consisted of extending series of unified computers compatible both on hard and software levels. That was the unprecedented long-term project of joined international research, development and production, which integrated efforts of almost all socialist countries. Number of only the personnel that was directly engaged in production, in that international team, neared 300000 people. The basic idea of the enterprise consisted in production of own computers, according to common standards (East-European), which should be compatible on programming level with -then popular- IBM-360 occupying leading positions on the market. According to plans of the East-European governmental organisations that schema opened direct access to all consumer software available on the world market and simultaneously stimulated accelerated growth of the own scientific and manufacturing potential.
In reality, the project itself possessed many positive features. Thus it accelerated scientific and technological development of more advanced countries like GDR or Hungary and very efficiently created new branches, such as electronics, computational mathematics, programming, etc. from “zero point” in such countries as Bulgaria (which surprisingly quickly reached good producing level), Cuba, Viet-Nam, etc. Rapidly growing international co-operation made decisive influence on rapid development (and exchange) in the field of education, progress in scientific and common/human communications and in many others. Generally speaking, the ES project essentially stimulated engineering development and cooperation among the partners-participants not only in scientific but also in social spheres.
However, not everything looked so optimistic. Adopting IBM-360 programming standards (and -inevitably- some of its important architectural features) caused (often unreasonable) extension of copying of other features and subsequent reduction, or even cutting, of some important national scientific -civil- programs. That caused notable harm to development of national scientific schools. It was especially painful for the USSR , as the biggest scientific power, where those programs and schools were most numerous and on the highest level. Luckily the defence computer development remained untouched. Most probable reason of that negative consequences consisted in wrong administrative decisions made on the highest level, but all this is just a “postfactum reasoning”.
New appointment brought Krutovskikh a great volume of work and responsibility, but at the same time it put him in confrontation with opponents of the ES project (in its adopted form). Nevertheless he actively took to problems of international labour management and to working out plans for the Soviet part of the project. In 1969 designers-in-chief of the countries participants developed and adopted technical assignments for the first series of the computers – ES-1 (also named ‘Rjad- 1' /row-1/). Also the completed project on the Soviet part of hard and software for the ES computers was submitted. Simultaneously he had to participate in numerous debates, often on the highest administrative level, for ES program went on causing problems and conflicts with other scientific and producing organisations. It wouldn't be big exaggeration to say that Krutovskikh had to withstand the hardest part of the “battle for ES”.
In 1970 he suddenly grew seriously ill and could not continue leading the SRIDEC work. Probably that was result of many years of the hard work and especially of the enormous stress caused by the “ES problems”. However he continued work until 1975 as a chief of the SRIDEC department and then he was appointed as a head of department at the Scientific Research Institute “Woskhod”.
In 1973 he submitted the other thesis and was awarded a doctorate. His experience in development of on-board computer “Argon” and ES computers formed the basis of his dissertation.
His contribution to progress of on-board computing systems was recognised and he was decorated with orders “October revolution” (1970), “Red Banner of Labour” (1966) and a medal “For Noble Labour” (1970).
S.A. Krutovskikh died suddenly on the 18 th of October 1981 and is buried in Moscow .
Biographical article (Russian) in Virtual Computer Museum: www.computer-museum.ru