organizing a trip to Cuba

Sean Caron scaron at
Tue Jun 23 12:53:32 CDT 2015

I've spent a lot of time researching computer engineering in the Eastern
Bloc ... there aren't a lot of sources here in the West that really
describe well everything they did over there ... my Russian skills are
absolutely awful so most of my knowledge derives from these secondhand
summary papers that were written ... I always found it intriguing; while
they did their share of cloning Western designs, or creating a local spin
on a design from the West with some architectural modifications or
enhancements; being somewhat isolated from what was canonical over here,
they also had their share of quite unusual indigenous designs ... a few of
the papers I have read discuss experiments with hybrid analog/digital
computers, ternary logic, and the Elbrus VLIW design would have been fairly
innovative for the time ... the BESM-6 was not a complete slouch when first
introduced; even today, there are some interesting designs coming out of
the CIS, like the Multiclet CPU ... I'd love to get my hands on a developer
board but they are a little spendy ... And that's not to mention the
computer industries in Hungary (I'm sure everyone here has seen the
Hampage!); East Germany and so on.

Peripherals, I think they had a harder time with, due to manufacturing
tolerance and QC issues; maybe on this side the export controls were a bit
looser on peripherals versus CPUs ... I've also read the story about CDC
... I understand they did some peripherals business in the Eastern Bloc as
did some of the other players ... i.e. Memorex? So one is perhaps less
inclined to see indigenous peripherals, but there was a fair bit of
indigenous design in electronics, from what I understand.

Back to the thread, though, I do have to wonder how much old IBM "big iron"
is still ... or was ever there ... in Cuba ... I could see typewriters,
sure, maybe some punched-card business machines ... and of course
Guantanamo is still occupied by the USA so that doesn't count ... but
full-on computers? Most of those big IBM machines would have been luxuries
yet for a business here in the USA, at the time the Cuban Revolution had
ended ... I can't imagine too many would have made it to the island?

BTW hat tip on the Electronika MK-90 ... that's cool :O



On Tue, Jun 23, 2015 at 1:09 PM, Chuck Guzis <cclist at> wrote:

> On 06/23/2015 09:32 AM, Holm Tiffe wrote:
>  Jonathan, I think it is _really_ naive to think that the Soviets gained
>> any
>> big knowledge from that old Mainfraimes.
>> The soviets build the sputnik, atomic bombs and intercontinental
>> ROckets w/o to find such things on cuba at all.
>> There was'nt any technological difference betwenn the US and the USSR at
>> this time.
> I remember that in the day, the Bulgarians (and probably other Warsaw-pact
> countries) were particularly adept at building virtual clones of US
> peripherals.  In the 70s, a couple of the CDC brass paid a visit and
> confirmed the story.
> It was a trade war, in some respects--not just a "cold war".  The USSR
> didn't respect western copyrights and patents, and western countries
> reciprocated. After 1990, some amends were made (cf. "restored copyright"
> in the US).
> It had its bright spots--the West got to hear music by USSR composers
> (e.g. Shostakovich, Prokofiev) played more often than they would had the
> works enjoyed IP protection.  Doubtless, Western music got a good hearing
> behind the iron curtain.
> --Chuck

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