organizing a trip to Cuba

william degnan billdegnan at
Tue Jun 23 17:05:41 CDT 2015

One way to find out!

On Tue, Jun 23, 2015 at 1:53 PM, Sean Caron <scaron at> wrote:

> 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
> Best,
> Sean
> 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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