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The First Soviet Scientific Papers on Management Information Systems in the RVCM

Home → Hall of Fame →  Kitov Anatoliy Ivanovich  → The First Soviet Scientific Papers on Management Information Systems in the RVCM

Abstract The main purpose of the article is to describe a large-scale and so far little-studied layer of the history of Soviet science - the history of the all-Union industry of management information systems (MIS). In the 1960s and 70s in the Soviet Union about seven hundred thousand specialists of various profiles worked for creating and using management information systems (economists, analysts, project managers, algorithmists, programmers,  data entry services workers, electronic engineers, computer operators, etc.). It is safe to say that in the USSR, during the specified period of time, a whole independent branch was created and functioned - the MIS industry.

Keywords Management information systems,  MIS industry, RVCM, Victor Glushkov, Anatoly Kitov, information retrieval systems, digital technologies.


The creation of computer-based information systems for making optimal management decisions have been the subject of much research by scientists both in the USSR and in Western countries. The development and use of management information systems (MIS) in the Soviet Union is clearly not sufficiently studied in the historical literature of Russian and foreign authors. This situation requires a systemic correction, given the fact that in the 1960s and 70s in the Soviet Union, according to various estimates, about seven hundred thousand specialists of different profiles worked for creating and operating MIS for various purposes and levels of use, (economists, analysts, project managers, algorithmists, programmers, computer training and data entry services workers, electronics engineers, computer operators, etc.). It is safe to say that in the USSR, at that time, an independent industry was created and functioned - the MIS industry [1, 3, 5, 6]. The study of this industry is especially important and relevant now, because many ideas, projects and scientific publications of those years are the origins of modern digital information technologies that are used in almost all areas of human activity.

II.    MIS History Documents in rvcm

The first phase of the functioning of a museum is the initial accumulation of historical artifacts. For any museum on the Internet, the next phase is important - the phase of analysis and reflection of the collected documents, descriptions, photographic materials, eyewitness accounts, etc. All this is important for RVCM, which is one of the world's largest virtual computer museums. In the field of the history of Soviet and Russian computers and information technology, it is number one in the world. The analysis phase allows not only to streamline the available historical documents. It allows to highlight the existing gaps in the general palette of the considered historical field of science and technology (in this case, the “History of MIS”).

In this work, the authors relied on the analysis of documents stored in the sections of the Russian virtual computer museum (RVCM) and in varying degrees addressing the multidimensional theoretical and practical issues of the Soviet MIS. Basically, these documents are on the scattered pages of a number of prominent scientists in the RVCM section “Gallery of Glory”. In the process of working on the article, the authors carried out the selection and systematization of the projects, publications and documents on this topic stored in the RVCM, and also determined the chronological sequence of their appearance in the USSR.


The authors recommend that the RVCM fundamentally change and significantly expand the storage of documents on MIS. Also, in RVCM it is necessary to organize a special section “Cybernetics” as about the science of management based on the use of computers (first of all, about economic management). The regular expansion of the archive of historical documents on various aspects of the MIS, as well as their systematization by organizations, authors and topics is one of the priority directions of RVCM development. It is about preserving in a digitized form of historical documents on the subject of MIS, which include the first Soviet articles and monographs; various projects and reports on their implementation; conference materials; orders of the Government of the USSR and other documents.

Significant success of Russia in the field of the digital economy did not arise from an empty place, but on a solid basis, which were the projects and works of a number of outstanding Soviet scientists. The Soviet MIS industry had national scale. Therefore, the history of the Soviet MIS is not just the history of one of the fields of national science. This is an integral part of the history of the whole country. It should be noted that over the past few years, more than two dozen domestic and foreign articles, books, documentaries, abstracts of speeches at conferences, etc. on the topic of the Soviet MIS have appeared.


Deserved recognition received work on the history of MIS, carried out under the guidance of prof. V. Paramonova (Samara National Research University named after S.P. Korolev) and prof. L. Borodkina (Lomonosov Moscow State University). Foreign scientists also consider understanding the history of the Soviet MIS as an important part of the world history of information science. The books of American historians Benjamin Peters (University of Tulsa, Pennsylvania), Slava Gerovich (MIT), and Professor from France Janik Harrel have become most famous. These are, respectively, the books [1], [2], [9] and [10]. In these books the main attention is paid to the scientific and organizational activities of the Soviet scientists Anatoly Kitov and Victor Glushkov. And J. Harrel devoted his book [10] to the memory of A. Kitov.


Back in the 1950s, Soviet scientists A. Kitov, I. Brook, A. Berg, and others in their publications strongly recommended to use computers to solve problems of management and economic planning. Let us dwell on the main of these publications, which RVCM has. Back in August 1955, Sergei Sobolev, Anatoly Kitov and Alexei Lyapunov’s article, “The Main Features of Cybernetics”, was the first positive publication on cybernetics in the USSR. The last third of Anatoly Kitov’s book “Electronic Digital Machines” (February 1956) was entitled “Non-Arithmetic Applications of Electronic Digital Machines”. It is fully dedicated to solving various non-arithmetic problems by computers. In the same 1956, I.S. Brook spoke at a session of the USSR Academy of Sciences with a report on the possibility of using small and medium-sized computers for conducting calculations at industrial enterprises.

Of undoubted interest are the materials stored in the RVCM on the proposal to create in the Soviet Union a Unified State Network of Computing Centers (EGSVC). This global USSR-wide computer network was the prototype of the future global Internet. On this subject in the RVCM in a digitized form there is a brochure by A. Kitov “Electronic Computers” (1958). In it, the author proposes to create in the Soviet Union a network of large basic computing centers to use it for solving production and planning problems. The author proposes for the centralized management of the economy of the USSR to unite all these computer centers of the country into a global state computer network EGSVC. In 1958, a conference was held in the country, the main theme of which was the use of mathematical methods for economic problems. The next specific proposal on restructuring the entire system of state management of the national economy through the transition of "personal forms" to computer was the letter of Anatoly Kitov to the head of the USSR N.S. Khrushchev from 01/01/1959 [4, 6, 8, 11]. A. Kitov proposes a radical restructuring of the entire management system of the Soviet economy due to the transition from the administrative-command style of leadership to the scientific, based on the widespread use of economic-mathematical methods and computers, which should be gradually integrated into a computer network of the EGSVC. At that time, Leonid Brezhnev was in charge of the science and technology policy of the Communist Party of the USSR. He, in general, welcomed the letter of A. Kitov and created for its detailed study the Government Commission (headed by the Chairman Axel Berg). This Government Commission approved the proposals of the letter of A. Kitov. Famous historians S. Gerovich, V. Shilov and A. Kuteynikov believe that this letter served as a powerful catalyst for increasing the production and use of computers in the USSR. This letter played a decisive role in shaping the final document of the Plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU (June 1959). This final document contained provisions for increasing production and widespread introduction of computers into practice in the country. However, this document of the Communist Party disregarded the main proposal of A. Kitov - the creation in the country of the global network of EGSVC as the basis of a fundamentally new system of economic management in the USSR. Undoubtedly, this letter from A. Kitov to the head of the USSR N. Khrushchev should be kept in the RVCM as well as two hundred page project of A. Kitov "Red Book". In the project “Red Book” (autumn 1959), A. Kitov proposed to create in the USSR a global computer network EGSVC for the “dual use”. Dual purpose meant the use of the EGSVC in peacetime for civilian purposes and in wartime for national defense tasks. Project of A. Kitov "Red Book" was rejected. The author himself was expelled from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and dismissed from prestigious work. The projects and proposals of A. Kitov were the origins of subsequent various proposals for the creation in the USSR of a nationwide automated control system. In 1959, the All-Union Conference on Computational Mathematics and Computers was held. At this forum, A. Kitov made a report “On the possibilities of automating the management of the national economy” (A. Berg and A. Lyapunov were co-authors). This was the first report in the Soviet Union on the vital need to create in the USSR a nationwide automated system for economic planning and management [7, 8, 12]. Later, the text of the report appeared in the famous collection of articles "Problems of Cybernetics." This report is the jewel of the RVCM e-collection.

Another attempt to reanimate the EGSVC project was undertaken in 1964. Then a special interdepartmental commission headed by Victor Glushkov was organized for this. The structure of this commission included well-known scientists A. Kitov, M. Fedorenko, N. Buslenko, V. Mikhalevich and other and authoritative representatives of state organizations (24 people in total). In September, 1964, this commission submitted for approval the pre-draft project for the creation of the EGSVC network in the USSR. It was assumed that this pre-draft project of the EGSCC would be the initial stage of creating a future global automated system for managing the country's economy. However, two months later, the removal of the head of the USSR, N. S. Khrushchev, and the change of the entire state structure of economic management in the country came. Instead of economic councils, allied ministries were again introduced. For this reason, the presented pre-draft EGSVC project had to be thoroughly redone and reconfigured. The RVCM archive contains the fundamental article of A. Kitov “Cybernetics and management of the national economy”. The article consists of the basic sections "Management Optimization - the Main Task of Cybernetics", "Modeling Economic Processes", “Optimal Planning”, "Automating Management of the National Economy - the Most Important Link in Building Communism" and "On the Unified State Network of Computer Centers." It is very clearly stated in these works that the basis for a fundamentally new system of management of the national economy should be EGSVC. The last article was appreciated in the USSR and abroad. In particular, in the American journal “Operations research” a large positive review was placed on it. It is pleasant to note that several important Soviet publications on MIS occupy a worthy place in the RVCM electronic library. In addition to those mentioned, this is a report by I. Brook at a session of the USSR Academy of Sciences; the fundamental works of A. Kitov "Electronic Computing Technique" (1956, section of the brochure "Radio Engineering and Electronics and Their Technical Application"), the monograph "Programming Information Logic Tasks" (1967), "Programming Automation System ALGEM" (1970), "Programming economic and managerial tasks "(1971)," Medical Cybernetics "(1983); detailed, consisting of two large parts, the list of works of V. Glushkov.

VI.      HISTORY OF MIS IN 1960-1970s IN RVCM

Since the 1960s, V.M. Glushkov was the chief ideologist, scientific leader and one of the main creators of the management information systems industry in the USSR. Developments of V.M. Glushkov and his school covered a wide range of applications: automated process control systems; systems for automation of scientific research and testing of complex industrial facilities; enterprise management information systems. In 1967, V.M. Glushkov and his colleagues created the first management information system for the enterprise with a mass character of production "Lviv" at the Lviv television plant "Electron". V.M. Glushkov's published monograph "Introduction to Management Information Systems".

Since the 60s, the creation of industrial information management systems (IIMS) started. V.M. Glushkov, as the most qualified and authoritative expert in this field, became the scientific adviser and consultant of many large IIMS projects in the 1970s, in particular in the defense industry. When the Interdepartmental Committee (IAC) of nine defensive ministries was established and the Board of Directors of the main institutes for management, economics and informatics of the defense industries was created, V.M. Glushkov became the scientific head of the Committee and the Board of Directors.

In 1962, V.M. Glushkov began to develop a project, which later became known as the State Information Management System for national economy (SIMS, in Russian OGAS). He worked on the application in OGAS of macroeconomic models and instruments to improve the methods of management, which was reflected in his monograph "Macroeconomic models and Principles of OGAS Construction” (1975). V.M. Glushkov proposed the concept of OGAS as a unified system for collecting reporting information on the national economy, planning and managing the national economy, and an information base for modeling various options for the development of the national economy. Unfortunately, OGAS project was not realized. The history of MIS, OGAS and the role of V.M. Glushkov are reflected in [1, 2, 3, 5, 9, 12] and in RVCM.


What needs to be done to change the structure of RVCM sections in the near future? It should be recognized that at present, none of the RVCM sections correspond to the MIS theme. Currently, several articles about the Soviet MIS are stored in the RVCM section “Systems and complexes” (about MIS “Lyvov” and MIS “Kuntsevo”, “History of production MIS”, “History of OGAS” and some others). Undoubtedly, they are of great scientific and historical interest. But there are only a few of them. On the other hand, other materials of the “Systems and Complexes” section have no relation to MIS. In RVCM there should be a special section “History of MIS”. This section should keep all MIS materials ordered by time, authors, applications, etc. Also important is the organization in RVCM of another special section “History of Cybernetics”. This section will thematically complement the “History of MIS” section.

Analysis of RVCM materials revealed the fact that many Soviet scientists on their pages in the museum are represented only by their biographies. The addition of these pages with their scientific works in a digitized form should be the primary task of RVCM in the near future.

On the topic of MIS, the four-volume article “Production Automation and Industrial Electronics” (1962-1964), publications and documents on industry-specific MIS (including military and medical) are required to be digitized; Fundamental monographs of V. Glushkov “Synthesis of digital automata” (1962), “Introduction to MIS” (1972), “Macroeconomic Models and Principles of OGAS Construction” (1975), “Fundamentals of Paperless Informatics” (1982); The fundamental works of A. Kitov 1960-1962. “Computer equipment-assistant in each case”, “Cybernetics in Economics”, “Automation of Production”, “Automation of Management”, etc.; L. Kantorovich’s publication, «Mathematical Methods of Organization and Production Planning» (1939); fundamental joint articles by A. Berg, A. Kitov and A. Lyapunov “Radio Electronics - to the Service of National Economy Management” (1960), “Cybernetics in Military Affairs” (1960), “Cybernetics in Engineering and Economics” (1961). The pre-sketch project EGSVC (1964), the project “Red Book” (1959), the two-volume Cybernetics Encyclopedia edited by V. Glushkov (1973-1974) must be kept in the RVCM library.

Of undoubted importance are articles on the history of MIS, written by the direct participants of the projects in the USSR. First of all, the articles “Ways of Creation and Development of Domestic MIS through the Eyes of a Direct Participant in the Events” (V. Isaev), “The Role of Academician A.I. Berg in the Development of Computer Technology and Management Information Systems” (A. Kitov), “The Beginning of the History of the MIS – A.I. Kitov and the Automation of the Management of the Economy of the Country" (P. Sibiryakov and others) should be included to materials stored in the RVCM.

VIII. Conclusion  

At present, the history of MIS is a little-studied historical “blank spot” of the Soviet science. The authors of the article hope that this article will draw the attention of IT specialists and historians to the importance of recreating key points in the history of Soviet MIS. The main purpose of this article is to draw the attention of readers to the little-studied section of the history of the Soviet science - the history of the industry of management information systems (MIS) in the USSR.


[1]      S. Gerovitch, “InterNyet: Why the Soviet Union Did Not Build a Nationwide Computer Network”. History and Technology, 2008. Vol. 24, pp. 335-350.

[2]      Peters Benjamin, “How Not to Network a Nation: The Uneasy History of the Soviet Internet (Information Policy)”, Massachusets Institute of Technology. – MIT Press, 2016.

[3]      A.V. Kuteynikov, “Na zare computeroy ery: predystoriya razrabotki proekta Obshchegosudarstvennoy avtomatizirovannoy systemy upravleniya narodnym hozyaystvom SSSR (OGAS) (На заре компьютерной эры: предыстория разработки проекта Общегосударственной автоматизированной системы управления народным хозяйством СССР (ОГАС)”, Istoriya nauki i tekhniki, 2010, № 2, pp. 46-47.

[4]      V.A. Kitov, V.V. Shilov, S.A. Silantiev, “Trente ans ou la vie d’un scientifique”, IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology, 2016, vol. 487, pp. 186-202.

[5]      A.V. Kuteynikov, “Academik V.M.Glushkov I proert sozdaniy principialno novoy avtomatisirovannoy sistemy upravleniya sovetskoy economikoy (Академик В.М. Глушков и проект создания принципиально новой автоматизированной системы управления советской экономикой), 1963-1965 гг.)” Economichskay istoriy. Obozrenie. (Экономическая история. Обозрение), Vol. 15, 2011, pp. 139-156.

[6]      A.V. Kuteynikov, V.V. Shilov, “ASU dlya SSSR: Pismo A.I.Kitova N.S.Khrushevu. 1959 (АСУ для СССР: Письмо H.С. Хрущеву, 1959)”. Voprosy istorii estestvoznaniy i tekhniki (Вопросы истории естествознания и техники), 2011, №3, pp. 45-52.

[7]      V. Kitov, A. Nitusov, E. Proydakov, “Russian Virtual Museum of the IT History”. 2018 International Conference on Engineering Technologies and Computer Science (EnT-2018), 20–21 March 2018, Moscow, Russia.

[8]      V.P. Isaev, “Remembering Anatoly Ivanovich Kitov – Back to the Future”. RVCM.  Gallery of Glory.

[9]      S. Gerovich, “From Newspeak to Cyberspeak. A History of Soviet Cybernetics”. MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusets, London, England, 2002, 384 p.

[10]   Y. Harrel, “La Cyberstrategie Russe”, Nuvis, Paris, 2013, 243 p.

[11]   V. Kitov, “First Computers and Evolution of Cybernetics in the Soviet Union”. History of Computing, Proceedings of the 8-th IT STAR Workshop on History of Computing, Milan; Baden, 2014, pp. 19-42.

[12]   Kitova O.V., Kitov V.A. “Anatoly Kitov and Victor Glushkov – Pioneers of Russian Digital Economy and Informatics”, Proceedings of IFIP-2018, HCEE, in press.

This article it the part of V.A.Kitov's report at the International conference "Engineering Technologies and Computer Science" (EnT-2019) on March, 2019.
The article was published in the proceedings of the conference "EnT-2019" and also at the popular electronic library "IEEE Xplore".
Published in the Museum, 19.07.2019

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