School Computers

Michael Abkin (1963, 2) at In the late 50's Nikita Kruschev's administration as usual borrowing ideas from the West started just another school reform: it went from 10-year to 11-year schooling. As part of this concept a regular 10-year school was split into 2 stages: 8-year primary (from 1rst to 8th grade) and 3-year high school (9-11th grades) with only a primary being a mandatory education. On top of this, these high schools practiced 'special' education - so along with a high school diploma a graduate would acquire a 'specialty' whether it was a 'tokar pervogo rasryada' or electrician, etc. High school #30 was the first school in Leningrad to specialize in training of computer programmers (a proximity to Math-Mech was perhaps a major factor). Right after that a couple of other schools followed, notably #239... .1963 was the first graduation year of this special 'programmist-vychislitel tretyego rasryada' group of people. Most of #30 school graduates were not computer programmers but other 'specialists'. Out of approximately 300 or so graduates there were just about 15 of [computer programmers].

Natasha Fichtenholtz (1965, 3) at Natasha.Fichtenholtz@METROKC.GOV: I graduated from 30-ka in 1965 and I was Ural-1 programmer. I remember this computer very well. It was huge - it took the whole room and it had a lot of big lamps. As I remember we wrote programs in machine code: 02 1000 2000 3000 - (operation code and 3 addresses). I still have with me in Seattle 30-ka's certification (programist tret'ego razrjada). May be this certification belongs to the future museum ?

Yuri Koblents-Mishke (1968, 1) at I graduated in 1968, first learned to program on the Ural, in 1966-68, and remember it very well. Some notes: 1. The type of computers was officially named "Ural", not "Ural-1". I believe, when they started production, it was not known there will be Ural-2, Ural-14, Ural-16, etc. 2. While Ural was not the first Soviet computer, it was the first serial model. As well as I remember, production was started in 1954 or 1956, and the copy at our school was one of the first build. 3. The serial number of Ural at our school #38. It did not belong to school, just was installed here: the owner of the machine was the math-mech department of LGU. It was installed initially at math-mech, but became outdated and moved to our "podshefnaya" school years before I entered it. It was serviced by engineer(s) in the University staff, and there were several math-mech users, who still run their old programs at the Ural. 4. The computer had one-address architecture, not 3-address one. Almost every operation was between the memory address and the "summator" register. Very few used the second register. The 3-address architecture in Natasha recollection is the M-20 one, and its successors: M-220, M-222, etc. including some of BESM (3M and/or 4?). These computers were installed and used at math-mech, but not at the school #30 of the times. 5. The main memory of Ural was on a magnetic drum. In result, the timing for access to the memory cell depended on direction. It was rather fast to the next cell forward, but you had to wait for the whole rotation to access the previous cell. Had to take this in account, especially when optimizing loops. The memory size was 8k of 9-bit cells (words). One cell can hold one machine instruction (then it was named "command"), but you need two cells to hold a number, 4k at most. 6. The input device was a punch tape, but unusual one. Made not from paper, but developed, black 35-mm photo film. The punch holes also were unusual for tape: rectangular, not round. Had the same size and shape as on the standard 80-column punch cards. There were 9 holes across the tape, directly mapped to bits in the memory cell. The tape reader was very unreliable, and the tape was read at least two times, till the control sum became the same. Usually it takes 3-5 reads, not two. To make the reading easier, the tapes were glued into rings. There tapes with debugged subroutines hang from huge nail hammered in the wall. The instructor told us: take the Sin/Cos, or Exp, or Ln from this nail. 7. The output device was so-named narrow printer. It printed only digits, the +/- signs and several symbols of this kind, necessary to output the numbers. It was impossible to print any text, without letters.

Leonid Skorobogatov(1970, 4) at It was in 1970 when we had comp. training with "URAL-1" computer installed in school 30-th.

Bair Budaev (1971, 4) at > There were also one or two remote terminals connected to > mainframes in LIIAAN. I wonder if they got a dedicated line > for that? Yes, in mid-80s there was a line to LIIAN's two BESM-6. But in 1970s there was URAL mounted in the first floor of the old building. Graduates of 1971 never used URAL and I even never was allowed to the "storage" room, although we heard legends about work on URAL in winter. URAL was a great heater, and since the school had not proper cooling winter was the most favorable time to run this machine.

Arye (Leonid) Neishlos(1972, 5) at I graduated from 30-ka in 1972. At our time we did not studied practical programing. Just a theory. Our teacher was Mikail Davidovich Manusov. He try to teach us to write programs, as he called it, but they were not a real programs, but what we call now a Flow-Charts. So I never touch a computer during my time in the school.

Vadim Kaganskiy (1974, 7) at In 1972-1974 school was near Vasileostrovkaya. At that time, we did not have any computer. However, we did have a programming course - wrote some code on paper. I guess, relocation happened in 1975 or 1976.

Alla Segal (1976, 2) at I attended the school in the years 1974-1976 at the schools's old location. The school didn't have a computer then. We had to write our programming assignments on paper and take them to the Computer Center of the St Petersburg State university, where the assignments were transferred to punch cards and run. We got the results 2-3 days later, if I remember correctly. We had very few programming assignments - maybe a couple a year and they were very simple -- less than 20 lines of Algol 60 code. So at that time the school could hardly be called "a PTU for programmers". The school was moved to its new location the year after I left the school.

Eugene Egorov (1978, 7) at If to speak about late 70s - for some time (but very short) it was Ural which came I suppose from Sredny prospect but did not withstand the transportation. After its disappearance - I think your suggestion about its destiny was right - for some time those who were trained in programming were lucky to meet georgian beauty "Nairi" (something resembling a big programmable calculator). Then in 1978 it disappeared as well and really Minsk 22 landed in the premise left to the cloakroom on the first floor. I think it was exactly the beauty you [Boris K] dismantled in 1987 - so it made a good service! But we were not allowed to use this miracle - they told the premise was rented by some institute and the machine was to be used by grownups for some virtual activity in soviet planned economics. I never had seen this r oom opened until my graduation in 78 - excluding the witnessing of how they brought the heavy iron in.

Ignati Grigentch (1987, 2) at >but I am pretty sure that one was a Minsk. yes, it was smth called M-220. It has TA-1M, a crippled version of Algol-60. I punched punch cards and used "chitalka" card to read them - I think it was in 1985 or 1986. Then the school got a class of DVK-1 computers (they got LSI-type chips I believe, 64K of RAM, no disks and built-in Basic). There were also one or two remote terminals connected to mainframes in LIIAAN. I wonder if they got a dedicated line for that?

Boris Kozintsev (1989, 4) at When I was accepted to the school in the spring of 1987 (the school was already at its current location near Priboi cinema), I was required to volunteer at school renovation projects. My assignment was to help dismantle some big iron; I am pretty sure that one was a Minsk. The beauty was cannibalized for scrap metal using sledgehammers and wirecutters. We literally filled up trucks with connectors and sockets. While I was at the school -- maybe a year later -- there was some new machine installed in its place, I think it was a VAX, though I've never personally seen it. We had probably the entire line of DVKs (the top model sported a 5 Mb hard drive and could run Digger), several Pravets 8 -- Apple ][ clones, and several MSX Yamaha machines (Komplekt Uchebnoy Vychislitelnoy Techniki). On top of that, we also went to LETI biweekly to work on their SM EVM machine where Pascal compiler was available among other things. (And on alternating weeks we worked at Kalinin's Plant at the assembly lines of home security systems (Kometa-K), and also hairdresser's curling irons -- the adjacent assembly line).

Kirill Shirokov (1992, 3) at I remember that in 1991 in the class near the gymnasium remained some big machine (CM-xxxx?) with some kind of UNIX (DEMOS?). I think, it would be interesting to recall what it was. Maybe somebody knows?

Miroslav Andrushchenko (1987, 2) at See above message Mashine cm1700. Operating system - united version of DEMOS and MNOS (UNIX from KIAE named after Kurchatov), multipurpose build of USSR military OS RAM - 16 MB HDD 5.5" 3*20 Mb 12 ANSI Terminals This is clone of VAX????

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