Pioneers of on-Board Radio-Electronic System Computerization

Time to know and to remember.   Leader
Head Designer of "Carat" computer family
"Carat" computer family parameters
"Carat" computer software
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Time to know and to remember

In the first post-War decades, the support of scientific researches by the state allowed to implement a number of "projects of century" in nuclear energy mastering, space exploration, rocket building, shipbuilding, aircraft construction, etc.

Of great importance was the appearance at that very period of a brilliant galaxy of such scientists as Kurchatov, Keldysh, Korolyov, Lebedev, Tupulyev, Antonov, Paton, Glushkov and many others, who turned out to be the merited and competent leaders of large scientific schools. Rather important was also the fact, that a generation of young people, whose world outlook and character were determined mostly by the war, joined a lot of scientific companies and enterprises in the post war years. The hardships of war made these people persistent, independent, able to overcome all difficulties. Begin of restoration of the national economy, hope for the better future created the atmosphere of universal upsurge, strive to learn, to continue the work, started before the war. Having taken all the best from their teachers, this very young generation went on in 60-s-70-s with the development of many trends of science and technique, including computer science. They developed new generation computers, created pioneer computer systems for various applications. They beared responsibility for practical use of computers in national economy, industry, science, power engineering, medicine and military complex.

Ukraine never stood aside from this work. A lot of research and production companies were involved in it. Leading roles were played by the Cybernetics Institutes of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Severodonetsk NPO "Impusle", Kyiv PO "Electronmash", NII of Micro-instruments, NPO "Kvant", NII of Hydro- instruments, NPO "Hartron", etc. In every institution there were its own leaders - head-designers of devices and systems. The Academician V.Glushkov was a generally acknowledged leader not only in Ukraine. In comparison with his bright talent and great achievements of the Cybernetics institute, under his leadership, the progress of other institutions was less remarkable and acknowledged. Nothing at all was published on computer development and military application systems.

It is time now to tell about such kind of developments and their performers, whose names were known only to a very small group of experts and state leaders.

First, let's remind our reader about the situation of that period. After restoration of the national economy, strongly destroyed by the war, the USSR began to increase intensively its economic and military power. The "cold war", started almost immediately after the end of the Great Patriotic War, caused the Soviet Union to do the later. The first step in this military competition was made by the USA: in August 1945 it dropped the atomic bombs on two Japanese cities: Hiroshima and Nagasaki, not only to frighten Japan, which was on the edge of capitulation, but mostly to threaten the Soviet Union. Soon the respond followed: atomic and hydrogen bombs were developed in the Soviet Union. Other spheres, including shipbuilding were involved in this competition. New precise and universal computers started to substitute the specialized analog machinery in on-board radio electronic systems.

The acquired technological potential of the country allowed to start at the middle of 50s the building of atomic and missile ships, which meant the begin of a new stage in the national military shipbuilding. The decision to build the atomic missile navy was conditioned as well by the current military and strategic situation in the world.

The military and political situation, formed before the begin of 70s, the state and tendencies of development of military and navy forces of USA and NATO required further strengthening of USSR defense against enemy attacks from the sea.

A lot of scientific and research institutes, as well as production enterprises of the Soviet Union were involved in carrying out those grandiose tasks. Considerable part of allotted means was directed for development of navy reconnaissance radio-electronic systems, for on-board weapon control, for navigation tasks solving, for by atomic engines control, etc. Kyiv was also among those cities, where complex computer radio-electronic systems for both surface and underwater navy forces were developed and manufactured.


It is an acknowledged fact, that success of any important business strongly depends on a leading person, able to manage and to run the business.

Ivan Kudryavtsev belonged to such leaders. He was born on July 7, 1921 to the family of a forest guard in the town of Strugy Krasniye of Leningrad region. In 1937 his father was arrested on accusation in anti-soviet activities. Ivan was expelled from the Young Communist League and was declared as "a son of the people's enemy".

When in 1939 Stalin organized the military conflict with Finland, Ivan, then a student of Leningrad aircraft institute, together with his elder brother volunteered to the front. The brothers wanted to prove in such a way that their father was innocent. Ivan's elder brother was killed in the war and Ivan lost his leg.

For sixteen years of very active work in Kyiv he managed to do such amount of work, which another ordinary person might have done in decades.

In eighteen, he was rewarded with the Order of the Red Star for heroic deeds during the war with Finland in 1939-1940. At that time this Order was highly appreciated among people.

Having lost his leg, he trained himself to walk again with the help of a primitive wooden artificial limb and resumed his sport exercises.

He managed to get a special permission to enter the Zhukovskiy Military and Air Academy in Moscow to study radio-location. After graduation from the Academy, he became a highly qualified expert on radio-location.

The Great Patriotic War went on and radio-location specialists were in great demand. Ivan Kudryavtsev was sent first to the Ministry of Aircraft Industry to manage radio-electronic department and later - to the city of Omsk, where the aircraft building was under intensive development.

Since 1949 till 1957, he organized and ran the design bureau on radio-location equipment development for Tupolyev aircrafts, which were manufactured in Omsk.

The years that followed (1958-1975) were the most fruitful and bright in his life. In Kyiv he managed to found the powerful Scientific and Research Institute of Radio-Electronics (KNIIRE), where a number of significant radio-electronic computer systems for military surface- and underwater Navy of the Soviet Union was developed, designed and manufactured On his initiative, for the first time in the USSR, the Institute started to build computer on-board radio-electronic complexes, on microelectronic basis, as well as a specialized on-board computer, first in Ukraine and in the Soviet Union. The complexes included both hardware and software, necessary to solve the following navy tasks: to gather data on surroundings, to control weapon, incl. missiles, to navigate, etc.

These computer complexes were built in Kyiv and supplied ready-made to the Navy forces. Unique test benches imitating the ship atmosphere were created at the institute's production halls. Later, such approach, conditioned by the introduction of new computer techniques would be named "a system approach".

Kudryavtsev's intuition when solving complicated technical tasks was amazing: he managed to put the most fantastic ideas into practice.

In his private life, he was a very modest person. Only his close relatives knew about his valuable decoration - the Order of the Red Star. A lot of his Institute's colleagues never guessed, that their director was without one leg.

He cared about his colleagues and employees, understood quite well the abilities of every person and knew how to use the potential of the enormous institute's team under his guidance.

Ivan Kudryavtsev died in 1975.

At that time his works were kept secret and it made his name practically unknown even in Ukraine, where he worked, though at the West this person was known and arose great interest. "The great organizer of military industry died" announced BBC, British Information Service.

"Kudryavtsev came to Kyiv with a fantastic dream to create a system of target pointing by an aircraft radio-location station.

The company under his guidance developed aircraft radio-locators. As the head designer he made everything possible and impossible to organize the work properly: looked for good specialists, provided equipment, supervised research process and design works. The principle of "complex approach", offered by him determined success of the work. According to it, all system equipment delivered from various plants and research institutes, had to be assembled not on the board of a ship or submarine, but at the manufacturing enterprise, where system assembling, adjustment and testing was to be made and only then the ready made and tested system was to be installed at the site of operation. He understood at once the importance of using computers at the systems under development and started to look for a proper solution. First, he sent a group of young specialists-graduates of Kyiv Polytechnical Institute to the Computer Center of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, founded at 1957. Finding out that the Ministry of Aircraft industry developed "Plamya" aircraft computer, he managed to receive permission for using it in one of the systems, being built by his company. It was a success.

In 1967, the first "Uspekh" system, developed by his team was built. Its main performers (Kudryavtsev, Alekseyev, Khaskin, Kobilyanskiy, Lapiy) got the State Prize of the USSR. The success was full !!! Then Kudryavtsev began intensive studies of the problem of "behind horizon" vision. The solution of this problem might expand the Radio-location system (RLS) visibility range. The academician Shchukin, one of the founders of radio-location, considered this idea as an absurd one. But Kudryavtsev's system of "behind horizon" vision, built on the basis of his dissertation was under operation for over fifteen years !

At the end of 60-s, the top secret exhibition of military technique achievements was held in the town of Severomorsk. "Uspekh" system was exhibited there as well. The exhibition was visited by Nikita Khrushchyov, the leader of the state. When explaining to him the principle of the system, Kudryavtsev underlined that the higher an aircraft with on-board RLS system was flying, the more effective the system could be.

- You mean, that antenna should be put as high as possible?, - asked Khrushchyov.

- Yes !

- Then put it upon a satellite!

Kudryavtsev needed strongly this very suggestion - new prospects appeared, the required means were allotted and the work started. This time the result was evaluated with Lenin Prize.

Kudryavtsev managed to organize at his institute all necessary scientific researches for development of main technical means, including computer equipment.

He was a very talented teacher: he trained a whole galaxy of head designers (Tuka, Stefanovich, Khaskin, etc.). For Victor Lapiy, the institute's head engineer and Vilen Plotnikov, chief desinger of "Carat" computer system, he was a genuine teacher, who determined their fate. They were destined to be the complement of one another: without Plotnikov, the high reliable computers (which were not worse than their foreign analogs) might not have appeared without Lapiy; the theory of radio-location information processing, used in computer software there might not been invented, and all above mentioned might not have been realized without Kudryavtsev's, steel will-power, huge energy, remarkable technical intuition and wonderful organizational skill.

He managed to turn the Kyiv "Kvant" research and production institute into one of the leading institutions (in one line with Moscow and Leningrad scientific institutes) for production of on-board computer radio-electronic systems. He was very proud about it, highly appreciated "Kvant" leading specialists, underlined that their researches were on the world level.

Shortly before his death he founded a new direction of medical electronics at his institute. Laser knives, devices for kidney stones crushing, as well as other medical devices were developed at "Kvant" institute.

Such medical men, as academicians Kavetsky, Kolomyets and others became regular visitors of the institutes.

It was a kind of Kudryavtsev's will: to care about every person and to make people's life easier.

Head Designer of "Carat" computer family

Someone of very scrutinized people noticed once, that every of the first computers reminded in some way or another on its creator. Really, Charles Babbidge, who demanded high precision in everything even in poetry and not only in computations, when developing his first in the world mechanical analytical computer used in it registers and counters with 50 decimal digits per each one! Until now, not a single computer has such a length of computer words.

In 1941 Conrad Zuse created the first in the world relay computer with binary computation system and floating- point number. Later he became an artist and devoted his life mostly to this occupation. His love of drawing was shown as well in exterior of his computer - it was designed according to all modern rules, in spite of the fact that it was assembled mostly manually by Zuse himself.

The computer built under G.von Neimann's management was called MANIAK.

Its creator was involved in the atomic bomb development and understood the dreadful consequences of the computations made with his computer.

Alan Tuiring, the brilliant mathematician left after him the "Tuiring computer", hypothetic device, able to fulfil any algorithm due to before-made program.

Sergey Lebedev, the founder of the national computer technique, who used to live and work following the principle of one of Jack London's characters "time does not wait!" and who tried to use every second with greatest benefit, developed super-computers with maximum performance.

During twenty years, 15 super computers were developed under his guidance. And every next one was a new word in computer technique: it was more perfect and had better performance.

Victor Glushkov, by no means a very talented person, was one of the first who tried to improve the computer "intellect" by providing a computer with the artificial intelligence software and hardware.

This list might have been continued further, but we add only one more name to it: - Vilen Plotnikov an original artist and photographer, connoisseur and lover of literature, theatre, music. The "Carat" family of installed computers, developed under his management, was the first in the Soviet Union broadly used in navy radio-electronic systems. The important indicator of computer perfection is mean-time-between-failures which consisted more than 2 000 hours (almost 100 days) for the first "Carats" and more than 10 000 hours (almost 5 years) for the next modifications. At the beginning of 70-s these figures seemed to be fantastic. But computers used in surface ships and submarines and operating under conditions of high humidity, great temperature fluctuations, weight overloading required this very reliability. "Carats" passed the exams: many computers had operated on board for 10-15 years without a single failure!

Within these years more than 2 000 computers were manufactured at the plants of Ukraine and Russia! They were used in systems of sixty modifications.

Vilen Plotnikov received full acknowledgement as "Carats" head designer not only in his institute but among his competitors, as well,- at the Ministry of Ship-building of USSR.

Creation of a computer, corresponding to all requirements of military applications was considered as his main task. Besides high reliability, there were used a lot of original technical decisions in "Carats"computers. Plotnikov was a pioneer of many of them. At that time computers of similar applications appeared only in Great Britain and USA, but nothing was known about them besides their names.

In 1971-1972, in accordance with the Decision of CPSU Central Committee and CM of USSR, there were developed and manufactured two experimental "Carat" computers in "Kvant" research institute. These computers were intended for use in various systems of data processing and navy ships and submarines control.

Three "Carat" modifications with various memory capacity and dimensions were developed. All computer modifications had the same command system, great data processing speed, bit rate, external links and were built with the same-type assembly units. The computer was built as a ready-made device. However it was delivered, assembled and operated as a part of a whole system.

In 1972, the institute's experimental plant built and delivered 6 more computers for radio-electronic systems under development at consumer-enterprises. These computers were manufactured in accordance with engineering documentation before undergoing any tests. Some amendments to computers were made directly at the production shops, though they were very scanty.

Long before experimental computers manufacturing, consumers were provided with "Carat" description and technical specification, as well as with recommendations on separate units coupling, on programming, etc.

Kudryavtsev had taken risk to deliver computer models, as well as operating instructions before completion of both state and preliminary plant tests. It was never done before within the Ministry but it reduced considerably the time for the system manufacturing.

The number of orders for delivery of such computers increased fastly but at the same time grew the anxiety of the Ministry of ship-building, which took a decision to use "Carat" computers in Navy. Hence, the great number of special commissions on control of both "Carats" designing and their technical specifications.

In 1971-1972 there were seven such commissions, which consumed a lot of time and nervous energy but after all checking and controlling, the commissions came to a conclusion, that both the engineering-technical documentation and computer test models correspond to all necessary requirements and could be presented for the State tests.

After that both customers and industry made no claims against "Carat" computers.

In 1974 "Carat" computers were recommended for a mass-production.

Meanwhile additional means of "computer support" were developed at the research institute, such as unified junctions for coupling a computer to other system units, test benches for computer automatic control, etc. The work on improvement of computer manufacturing technology never stopped.

In 1974, the KNIIRE-experimental plant manufactured the first 20 computers. There were no consumer's claims as to their reliability.

Since 1975, "Burevestnik" Kyiv plant launched "Carat" computers serial production as well. About 500 computers were manufactured before 1980.

Creation of compact and reliable computer with high functional parameters changed radically the situation in navy ship-building. From now on, the developers of any system could use the programm method, installing one or more computers in the system. "Carat" computers were very reliable. For instance, in navigation systems computers operated for more than 20,000 hours without a single failure. A computer was used in more than 60 systems and complexes, developed by enterprises of four ministries.

A minimum modification computer was used in simple systems, and in large modern ships with some on-board computer systems one can find 15 or more computers of "Carat" type in maximum modification.

The KNIIRE-managers tried to introduce this computer into systems of civil application. On the order of Morflot (Black See Fleet), "Breese" system for computer watching of big tankers ("Cuban", "Pobeda", etc.) was developed.

"Breese-1609-UDS" system was installed at the Illichyovsk Sea port for ship traffic control, ship collision prevention and radio-location control at the North- Western region of the Black Sea.

"Carat" computer was used in "Akkord" system, developed together with the Paton Institute of electric welding for cutting steel sheets at ship-building plants.

"Kvant" plant gained authority in the sphere of development of unified reliable computers used under very hard conditions.

At the beginning of 80-s, the unified computer modernization was completed to increase performance rate when operating in hydro-acoustic and other systems ("Carat-KM"). One more large machine-building plant in the city of Ulyanovsk was involved in computer manufacturing. One started to use new constructive units and elementary base. Magnetic element accumulators were fully replaced with BIS-memory units.

"Carat-KM-E"-modification with section micro-processor BIS was developed. Then one more "Carat"-modification was built performing about 2,5 mln operations per second for processing data obtained from radio-location systems.

Cross-system of computer programming and adjustment was under steady development and improvement.

When checking out "Carat" program, the programmers could work with a personal computer, linked to the central computer system.

Single-chip computers with 16- bit- standard microprocessors, developed in Plotnikov's department, started to be used in a number of systems of civil application. But in complex systems they were only the complement of highly efficient "Carat" computers. The prospects for further development of "Carat" family were good, but unfortunately the work on "Carat" computers was terminated.

Description for "Carat" computers is given at Supplement 2, as well as specifications for US ship computers, similar to "Carats".

Besides "Carat" computer family, at the "Kvant" plant there were developed numerous devices for primary data processing, key-computers for navigation computation and various special processors which gained usage at ship radio-electronic systems.

Computer development is a team work. Vilen Plotnikov tells about the work of his associates: "When the development of the "Carat" unified computer has started, a special laboratory, consisting of young specialists was founded. In various periods there worked in it from 30 to 45 people.

The leading developers of unified coupling units were the following department employees: O.Vorobyov, V.Helvas, L.Yeremeyeva.

The leaders of cross-system of computer programming, adjustment and issue of specifications for all "Carat" modifications were: S.Dovgal, B.Karavashkin and M.Muchnik.

The Navy of the Soviet Union, built in the post-war years and equipped with modern radio-electronic devices became "a cold shower" for many "hot heads" abroad.

Its creation, as well as the building of anti-missile defense system contributed to establishment of parity between USSR and USA in military sphere, which later had led to the process of disarmament.

The contribution of scientists, engineers and workers of "Kvant" institution in this unparalleled work of Navy building is difficult to overestimate.

"Carat" computer family parameters

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Ivan Kudryavtsev
Boris Paton, 70-s XX century
Ivan Kudryavtsev and Victor Glushkov Victor Lapiy, 1963
The astronaut Georgyi Beregovoy Ivan Kudryavtsev at meeting with former front-line soldiers
Vilen Plotnikov, 1960 Ivan Kudryavtsev with the visitors of "Kvant"
The Navy admiral Sergey Gorshkov Vilen Plotnikov, 1970
Vilen Plotnikov - artist "Carat" computer system MP4.21., 1973
Yuri Kuchiyev "Cuban" supertanker
"Brys-1551" system performance testing "Carat KM-1" computer system MP4.10
"Carat KM-E" computer modules

Computers for Testing Rockets