Microsha, Krista, Apogee, Lviv - the first Soviet computers to take away

From the history of the Soviet PC

It is no longer a secret that in 1950–70 the USSR was one of the world leaders in the race called “development and production of computer equipment”. The first computers - MESM, M-1, later known BESM-6 with a speed of more than 1 million floating-point operations per second, compact computers of the MIR series, and many other achievements of great minds in the "computer" sphere of the Soviet times.


Technologies developed very quickly, and therefore such comments as “I didn’t know / that computers were in the Soviet Union” or “It turns out that Soviet computers were not sludge compared to foreign ones” are caused only by a banal ignorance of the history of development of various “computer” technology and computing devices in the USSR. Many people know the history of the creation of PCs of such world-wide foreign giants as Apple, IBM, etc., since information about them for more than one decade has been covered and heard. Historically, it was believed that in the USSR, besides the fact that there was no “sex”, personal computers appeared later by 10 years later than in the same America. Like the first and the second statement - no more than a myth.

The first Soviet integrated circuits with several dozens of transistors saw light in the mid-1960s, and by the mid-1970s microprocessors and complex chips were produced, the number of transistors in them was already measured in thousands. In 1974, the first microcomputers based on universal microprocessors were developed. Sectional processors of the K532 and K536 series (which appeared in the same year) made it possible to manufacture machines with a capacity of up to 16–32 bits. So there were 16-bit micro-computers. In 1977, an analogue Intel 8080 was released - an 8-bit K580IK80 processor. He then became the basis for the creation of a number of PC models and micro-computers. Two years later, the world's first 16-bit single-chip micro-computer, the K1801E1, was developed. On the basis of K1801BE1 in 1981, the K1801BM (single-chip 16-bit microprocessor) was created, the command system of which was similar to the command system of the mini-computer PDP-11.

From the speech of the USSR Deputy Minister of Radio Industry:

Guys, stop doing nonsense. Personal computer can not be. There may be a personal car, personal pension, personal cottage. Do you even know what a computer is? The computer is 100 square meters, 25 service personnel and 30 liters of alcohol per month!

"Swipe" BESM-6

The scope of the first computers was “huge”: tons of equipment, whole machine rooms, personnel serving such a miracle of technology. And because the idea that you can use a computer at home - it seemed just ridiculous, who could afford to place such a unit in the 4 walls of the apartment. And the very concept of a small-sized computer for personal use at that time was unusual. But she was. The end of the 70s was marked by mass production and production of PCs: Iskra-1256, Iskra-226, Iskra-555, VEF-Micro, Micro-80, Electronics NTs-8010, Electronics BK-0010, Microsha, Krista, Apogee BC-01, Partner 01.01, Spectrum-001, etc.

Radio 86RK

In addition, Soviet citizens had an overwhelming desire, a blue dream, so to speak, to have a PC to go, one that could be kept at home. In one of the newspapers, it seems Trud, in 1987, a note was published about how the chief of the automated control system of the cement plant in Primorsky stole (that is, carried out) the parts from the factory to assemble computers. He brought out not a lot, and there were details for 6 thousand rubles, at that time it was possible to buy an apartment for such money. Comrade V. Molyarenko had to get two years of correctional labor for his “hobby”.

An extensive technological niche, formed due to an acute shortage of personal automated communications and information processing, is what the PC was intended to fill.

For many radio amateurs, the publication in 1982-1985 in the magazine "Radio" articles on the "Micro-80" has become the most important source of information about the device and the capabilities of personal computers.

Some Soviet publications told how to assemble a PC with their own hands, others told how necessary this unit was for Soviet citizens. For example, the magazine “These professional personal computers” described in detail how modern computers are arranged and what a bright, but also fascinating future they carry: they help to learn English, give the opportunity to play backgammon, create knitting schemes, work with documents. In the well-known magazines with a million copies, entire sections devoted to IT topics began to appear, they were usually called “Man and Computer”. What can I say, even in the 6-12 years old public magazine, "Murzilka", an illustration appeared in which the teacher introduces students to a computer.

1986 Illustration magazine "Murzilka"

1986 Illustration in the magazine "Young Technician"

Microsha (based on Radio-86RK)

In 1986, the Lianozovo Electromechanical Plant produced the RC-compatible model of Microsha. It was an improved version of the PK86 prototype, the base RAM was increased to 32 KB, and the KR580VI53 programmable timer appeared. Why Microsha has become one of the most famous models of Soviet PCs, but everything is trivially simple - again, marketing, advertising. In 1986, an advertisement about the PC Mikrosh was adorned on the cover of Radio magazine, and a year later, in 1987, the computer was on the cover of the monthly popular science magazine “Science and Life” (No. 7).

PC Microsha - a reliable, relatively inexpensive machine. The cost of such a device was at that time 500 rubles.

I was incredibly lucky, because I was born in a typical family of a Soviet engineer, who was passionate about the latest technologies. Therefore, the first personal computer called “Microsha” appeared in 1986. As I remember, Dad dragged a computer in the morning from a regular business trip, and when I returned from kindergarten in the evening (I was five), Dad showed me a clone of the game Arkanoid (as I understood many years later). Miracle of technology: tsiferki on the screen jump, and you can still manage it interactively with buttons. There was an absolute demolition of the head. You see, 1986 is when children took a TV program and emphasized cartoons at 17:30.

"Science and Life" №7 1987

The microsoft PC weighed about 3 kg: a system unit of 1.4 kg, a power supply unit - 1.3 kg, a modulator -200 grams. Technical data of the simplest computer intended for general sale:

It is necessary to do a single board computer, at least chips, integrated into the case with a keyboard. At this time, the K580 microprocessor set expanded, and i8275 - KR580VG75 was able to reproduce. He became the foundation. Circuitry is mainly implemented by Yuri Ozerov. The monitor was adapted by Dmitry Gorshkov. The question was how to call it - here Viktor Panov says - MICROcomputer, School - I offer “MIKROSHA”.

As it was said about the PC in the magazine “Science and Life”, Mikrosh may not be the best, not the same as we would like to have, but still a real, living computer, opening many interesting possibilities and mostly corresponding to the simplest computer class formed on the world market. An ordinary household tape recorder was used as an external memory device, and a black and white TV was used as a display. Included with the computer was a small block prefix (the size of a pack of cigarettes), a so-called modulator, for connecting to a TV set. On the TV screen placed 24 lines of letters or numbers, 64 characters in one line. The addition operation Mikrosh performed for 3 microseconds, and its speed was 200-300 thousand operations per second.

Microchip microprocessor - eight-bit KR580IK80A, address bus - 16-wire. The first portion of the software was supplied on the tape cassette MK-60, on which programs are needed to start working with PC.

A user who wanted to enter programs written in BASIC, had to start a computer session by reading the machine's interpreter of this language into RAM. Such a need was due to the lack of ROM required capacity.


Christa - a miracle of technology with a "touchscreen"

Another interesting specimen and representative of the class of the simplest PC was the 8-bit Kris machine. Krista PC began to be produced at the Murom plant of radio measuring devices in 1986. Characteristics of the device: 32 Kbytes of RAM, 2 Kbytes of ROM, sound generator on a VI53 chip. Krista was partially compatible with Radio-86RK, in 1986 it cost 510 rubles.

The Soviet personal computer worked on the Soviet analog of the Intel 8080 processor and was very much like the Mikroshu. The display was an ordinary household TV, and for storing, recording and playing programs - a cassette recorder. Krista is the first Soviet personal machine equipped with a light pen. The light pen was essentially a light-sensitive pen, with which it was possible to touch objects on the screen, such a domestic touchscreen. This tool allows you to quickly select objects on the display, was used to draw on it. Talking about the usefulness of such a manipulator is not worth it, because working at a large TV screen, drawing something, was extremely uncomfortable for the eyes.

Information from advertising on PC Krista:

CHRIST instills computer skills. Teaches programming techniques. Solves problems of a number and research nature. Stores various filing cabinets. Serves as a reference book and dictionary. It has a light pen. Teaches music notation. Memorizes and reproduces excerpts from musical works. Organizes electronic games. Accelerates the exchange of radiograms in the amateur radio. It has high noise immunity.

From the memory of Krista: “my first computer with it was a music sequencer as a music demo was a Polonaise Oginsky, it was not worse than a synthesizer, and the programs from microsheartized”, “and the light pen program is a screen filled with dots like this ... ... (pseudographic). When the pen was presented, the points were replaced with asterisks. It was impossible to persist. There were a lot of games. Approached almost everything from Radio 86rk and others. There was also an interpreter of the assembler but I could not comprehend it and it seems impossible at all)) ”.

Apogee - the most advanced anolog of Radio-86RK

Personal electronic computer "Apogey BK-01". The release of this Soviet 8-bit PC started in the distant 1988, at the plant BRA in the Tula region (was engaged in the release of consumer radio equipment): 64 Kbytes of RAM, 4 Kbytes of ROM. There was a regular three-channel sound generator on the KR580VI53 microcircuit (for audio output). For storing, recording and playback of programs other than a cassette recorder, it was possible to download from an external ROM up to 64 Kbytes, though only reading. Apogee BK01 provided software support for two recording and reading modes.

Apogee BK-01Ts is the “color” version of PC. There was applied the KR580VG75 chip, which helped to realize a color image: 8 colors for symbols on a black background, or 8 colors of a background with black symbols. However, the PC Apogee displayed quite complex and beautiful pictures.

The cost of a computer ranged from 440 to 560 rubles.

PK-01 Lviv

In 1986, the Lviv Polytechnic Institute developed a personal 8-bit educational household computer "Lviv". The car was released Lviv production association to them. Lenin. The PC was based on the KR580VM80A processor, and the graphics capabilities were improved. The RAM was 64 Kbytes, 16 Kbytes was allocated for video memory. The sound generator in Lviv was absent, the sound was output programmatically with a full processor load.

Characteristics of the Lviv PC: frequency 2.22 MHz, speed was 200-300 thousand operations per second, RAM - 64 Kbytes (16 Kbyte video memory), ROM - 16 Kbytes, power consumption was not more than 30 watts.

The tape recorder was an external memory, and the usual TV served as a monitor. On the screen 4 of 8 colors of the palette could be displayed simultaneously. It was possible to connect the NVMD controller, the ROBOTRON printer to the Lviv PC. The cost of such a machine was 750 rubles. The cost was higher due to the presence of color graphics and a relatively large amount of memory. The model was popular, especially in Ukraine, 80 thousand such devices were released. It is therefore not strange that by the number of games and programs released this PC takes the 3rd or 4th place among Soviet personal computers. Perhaps his popularity was nothing more than another marketing ploy, because this car was actively advertised on TV in the late 80s.

The most accurate choice in the sea of ​​information for you is PK-01 Lviv :

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