Vladimir Kitov: “It is impossible to understand how pioneering scientists foresaw universal computerization back in the 1950s!”
Vladimir Kitov, who has been working with IT for more than half a century, led programming teams at the MCC of the USSR Ministry of Marine and the Monolit Central Research Institute, led software development for the COSPAS-SARSAT international space rescue system and created a multi-terminal monitor for an EU computer. He worked as a top manager at DEC, SIEMENS, Technoserv, IBS, Fujitsu, wrote a textbook on system programming and several monographs, and now he is engaged in the history of computer science.
In the continuation interview, Vladimir Kitov recalls his father Anatoly Ivanovich and other prominent Soviet scientists, explains why the history of automated management systems - a significant part of the country's history, tells about work for agriculture at the Institute of Cybernetics at the turn of the 1980-1990s.
“My work path can be divided into three periods: socialist (1968-1991), capitalist (1991-2011) and retirement (from 2011 to the present).
The first part of our conversation covered the first, Soviet period of my work - from 1968 to 1991. In April 1991, work began already under capitalism; it continued until 2011 inclusive. ”
About the history of automated control systems in the USSR
The history of ACS is not just the history of information technology. This is part of the history of the country, because in 1960-70 in the USSR a whole industry of automated control systems was created, in which about 700 thousand people worked. Electronic engineers, programmers, algorithmists, analysts, task managers: all of the country's numerous industrial enterprises had their own ACS departments, each of which employed about 100 people. That is, this is the story of an independent industry with all its ups and downs.
Take any modern enterprise - the so-called ERP systems are used to promptly inform and process business information. In the Soviet Union, their place was occupied by ACS. This is a whole technological ocean, subdivided into separate independent scientific areas - “seas”. For example, process control systems (automated control systems for technological production - production lines and machines). Then the automated control system (automated enterprise management systems) - computer systems, with the help of which they informed the director, his deputies, chief accountant, heads of departments, industries, shops and other managers to make managerial decisions.
The first system in the USSR for a large enterprise was the automated control system “Lvov”, introduced at the Lviv television plant “Electron” in the mid-1960s.
Another IT-sea is OASU (Industrial Automated Control System). Who centrally manages enterprises, design bureaus, factories, research institutes in each industry? Ministry The Ministry of Defense, for example, included about 300 large arms manufacturing enterprises. Or, let’s say, OASU MRP - the ministry of radio industry, the factories of which produced computers EC computers, SM computers, Ural and others. Next - RASU, republican ASU. 15 union republics, each with its own Council of Ministers, its own republican Central Committee of the CPSU, its own structure.
The introduction of the OGAS was formally included in the list of decisions of the XXIV Congress of the CPSU, held in the spring of 1971. But in fact, the Soviet government did not provide any support for the project
It was assumed that all of these many thousands of automated systems will be integral parts of OGAS - the National Automated System, named after 1970. It began as EGSVTS - the Unified state network of computer centers.Back in 1959, my father Anatoly Ivanovich Kitov proposed the idea of the EHEC to the Government of the USSR for a radical restructuring of economic management and planning the national economy. The main ideologist and propagandist of the OGAS was Viktor Mikhailovich Glushkov. Unfortunately, he was not endowed with any authority by the communist leaders in the field of automated control systems throughout the country, and his proposals were not binding, but only advisory in nature.
Manuscript of Anatoly Kitov in 1959, dedicated to the Red Book project - a unified system of managing the national economy and the Armed Forces of the USSR
How were communist leaders ruled in the USSR? Simplified. A meeting of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU is being convened, for example, on crop issues, or production of tractors in the country. Suppose the Rostov region is lagging behind - of course, I cite it just as a conditional example. Then the head of the USSR, N. S. Khrushchev or another major leader, picks up the telephone and makes the secretary of the Rostov regional party committee an unpleasant verbal rumble: “You are so-and-so, slobber, why do plants work poorly for you? Why is the plan not fulfilled? ”
Nikita Khrushchev did not stand on ceremony during public speaking, but in a narrower circle he expressed himself especially sharply
- “It will be done, Nikita Sergeevich! Let's do it! ” Then he picks up the phone, calls the factory: "Why, parasites, do not do it?" The director of the plant kosterit the heads of workshops and production sites: “I will dismiss, I will leave without a bonus! Why aren't you fulfilling the plan? ” Yes, because either the plans are unrealistic, or one of the workers did not change (say, washed down), or the subcontractors didn’t deliver the spare parts, and they would only bring them up at the end of the month.
But what does the site manager think in this case? "Let me lie that the plan has been fulfilled, and at the end of the month, quarter or year, I will catch up with shock." Further, the shop manager lies at the enterprise level. The director of the enterprise lies to the secretary of the district committee of the CPSU. And so on all levels. There were even special terms such as “home registration” and “storming.”
Against assault and emergency work at the end of the reporting period, the USSR was actively campaigning, which however did not reach the goal
And all because the Soviet bosses did not want to be removed from their posts, depriving personal cars, prestigious rations, state dachas and other benefits. And the more benefits were given, the higher the position was. After all, the USSR was a country of deficit distribution at all levels. So, although I was also a small manager — the head of the department — I also had warrants for getting scarce goods: sheepskin coats, muskrat hats, Japanese jackets, vacation tickets to Bulgaria, and then also a car. He regularly received food sets: a can of instant coffee for 10 rubles, a stick of Finnish cervelat and other scarce foods. You work poorly - they won’t give it. Therefore, at all levels lied. Everything seems to be fine according to the documents, but the result is unsatisfactory. The central place in management was occupied by the subjective human factor, the role of which was proposed to be radically reduced by installing computers. That is, with the introduction of a global computer system, it was proposed to computerize and integrate all these reporting links, starting from each production site and up to the Moscow central government, into a single network. Sensors will record that the part has been produced, and immediately report to the workshop level. Then, information on the production of larger blocks and computer products will be reported to the enterprise level. And so on up. The computer does not lie. That was the idea, but it did not pass.
The main reason for this is the extreme indecision of the then stagnant Soviet regime. Anatoly Ivanovich Kitov in one of his letters “upstairs” warned: “One should not expect that everything will settle down by itself.”But the Khrushchev-Brezhnev power was too "weak at the knees" to decide on a serious project. She quietly expected that everything would somehow form without a global restructuring of the management of the national economy. Over the years, the situation in the country became worse and worse - first stagnation, then stagnation and finally the collapse of a great country. Everything is natural.
And this is a pity, because the USSR with its centralized planning and management was ideal for the OGAS. I think that it is possible that under comrade I.V. Stalin the brilliant idea of the EHREC/OGAS could have been realized. He was able to take the risk and go on the implementation of this expensive project, because, being a cruel tyrant, he remained a smart person and thought about strengthening state power. Still, it is no coincidence that he made an industrial giant from an agricultural country in a short time.
Then, with him, the Communists knew how to intimidate everyone well. As Stalin said: "Our scientists work well when 10-15 percent of them are sitting." I heard that even Sergei Pavlovich Korolev had forms: “arrest such and such for failure to complete the assignment” and an empty field for the surname. As academician Boris Yevseyevich Chertok, deputy Korolev, wrote, the rocket and space industry, like the nuclear one, then worked according to the laws of wartime. Everything was tough: for failure to fulfill the plan, it was possible to get a deadline.
One sometimes hears that with the then existing communication technology, with huge antediluvian computers, it was unrealistic to implement such a project. But to me such a judgment seems shortsighted. It was proposed to create the EHRCC, but no one said that the EHRCC should work on devices that are available. At one time, space flights and the atomic project were unrealistic. With the direct and clear order of the country's leadership, as in these two cases, the global task set by scientists could stretch up all the sectors necessary for its solution. And communications, and computers, etc.
Back in the late 1950s, Anatoly Kitov argued that the country's leader should be responsible for automation in the rank of member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU, and all work in the field of computers and automated control systems should be carried out exclusively, coordinated and implemented by a single state body of union significance - a separate ministry. “Only in this way business will not be left to chance.”
Anatoly Ivanovich Kitov - Doctor of Technical Sciences, Professor, Honored Worker of Science and Technology of the Russian Federation, Academician of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, Colonel Engineer
Unfortunately, in the seventies in the USSR, motley opportunists in the person of former party and Komsomol nomenclature workers (usually poorly educated in the field of IT) began to massively attach themselves to the ACS industry. Huge amounts of money were spent on automated control systems in the country, and the effect of their activities was not high. Unsystematically and without any coordination, thousands of unconnected ACSs were created. As thousands of bricks are not yet a building, so disparate, heterogeneous, heterogeneous standard hardware and software do not in themselves form a single system. It was rather a discredit of the idea of automated control, to which the term “patchwork automation” was attached. Some managers began to look skeptically at the acronym acronym itself.
P. L. Smilyansky. Which ACS is effective? From the book “To the Head of Automated Control Systems”. M., Economics, 1988, with. 11
In 1976, Mstislav Keldysh, already not being president of the USSR Academy of Sciences, with his characteristic bluntness, said: “We have poor computer peripherals and, perhaps, worse with their mathematical support... It seems to me that I need to prepare and raise the question of change the order of creation of electronic machines. There must be one organization - an association or a ministry - which, with the participation of the Academy of Sciences, will develop complex modern electronic machines, because further lag in this regard is unacceptable. " Thus, Mstislav Vsevolodovich practically word for word repeated the statement of Anatoly Kitov, made in 1959 in a letter to the head of the USSR N. S. Khrushchev.
The elders regularly visited each other. Often gathered at my parents, who, I think, quite consciously, sat me somewhere on the edge of the table. Constantly sounded songs, laughter, subtle humor. The cementing foundation of the company was my mother Galina Vladimirovna. Dad’s friends and associates called him the father of Soviet cybernetics, and my mother, as a joke, her mother.
These were not even gatherings, but a discussion of what excites them. The conversation has always passed on to science: computer science, ACS, programming, new ideas. For everyone, this was the most important thing. I thought that I had three senior friends from prominent scientists: Alexei Andreevich Lyapunov, Nikolai Panteleimonovich Buslenko and Viktor Mikhailovich Glushkov, who each time spoke with me. Before school, I had a big plush cat in boots, which I called Lyapunov. I recall with pleasure Igor Andreyevich Poletaev, Nikolai Andreyevich Krinitsky, Bashir Iskandarovich Rameev, creator of Zelenograd computers in Israel, Yakovlevich Akushsky.
The house on the embankment where the Kitov family lived was officially called the Government House
Another reason to get together is the arrival of one of the non-Muscovites. Leonid Vitalievich Kantorovich and his wife, who often flew from Novosibirsk, constantly came to visit us. He subsequently received the Nobel Prize. Victor Mikhailovich Glushkov came from Kiev. As a deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, he constantly attended meetings in the Kremlin - to go through the Moscow River from the Kremlin to the House on the embankment where we lived was easy. He regularly came to us, including during lunch breaks between meetings. It was easy to feed his mother - he preferred potatoes with herring. I met him at the age of twelve, when dad took me to Moscow State University, where he gave a lecture on cybernetics in the Great Assembly Hall. I remember that at that time I was very shy of my age and my father tried to cheer me up.
Alexey Andreevich Lyapunov - mathematician, one of the founders of cybernetics, corresponding member of the USSR Academy of Sciences since 1964
Most importantly, the amazing spirit of these evenings. No rivalry, no struggle for priorities, no disputes "I am right, and you are not right." A calm and friendly conversation of intelligent, respecting each other people, for whom the main thing is to clarify the truth. Often, they were so carried away by the discussion that they continued the conversation even in the hallway, putting on a coat. So it was one evening, when I was already a student. In the morning you need to go to college, and on the hanger there is not my pretty worn hat from a rabbit, but a beautiful fawn is hanging. I had to go to study in it, and in the evening I began to find out who yesterday could change my rabbit for this fawn. It turned out fascinated by the discussion Lyapunov. I speak to his relatives by phone: “Now I’ll come and change my hat back,” and they answer me that he’s already left for Novosibirsk. I had to wait until he came to Moscow once again. But when I did come to him, he introduced me to another guest, Boris Vladimirovich Gnedenko, from whose textbook I was studying probability theory at that time.
The first edition of B.V. Gnedenko’s textbook was published in 1950
Regularly read poems: Pushkin, Yevtushenko, Rozhdestvensky, Samoilov, and sang songs: folk Russian and Ukrainian, military, "There is only a moment between the past and the future" and others. Anatoly Ivanovich Kitov, who was a company hummer in 1940, with a special feeling performed “At the Nameless Height” and “March of the Gunners”, and everyone sang along with him.
Each of these people aroused my admiration. They were great workers and intellectuals. Unlike subsequent more practical generations of scientists, they did not get involved in any competition for personal superiority, did not boast of their merits.My father never spent time on pointless criticism of the authorities, although he himself seriously suffered from it. He believed that “times do not choose” and that it is necessary to work conscientiously and selflessly at any time. For example, he never scolded neither the country nor its communist leaders, although his project "Red Book" was rejected, and for this project he was expelled from the Communist Party, which he joined during the war at the front. A year later, however, restored. We realized that he wanted the best for the country and its people: to unite the computers of all the ministries and enterprises of the USSR into a Unified Computer Network (USSEC) to manage the country's national economy. Back in 1959, Khrushchev sent two letters to the CPSU Central Committee with his proposals and then continued to uphold these ideas. When, somewhere in 1971, he realized that the CPSU leadership, supporting the idea in words, would in fact never create an OGAS for the restructuring of economic management, switched to a more real problem - medical cybernetics, and became the chief designer of the Healthcare ACS.
Anatoly Kitov (third from left) at Harvard, 1966
He was not in words, but in fact a true patriot of his homeland and a man deeply devoted to his family. Apparently, therefore, curators from the KGB freely let him go on scientific missions abroad. Including, not only as a part of delegations, but also one.
Galina and Anatoly Kitov, 09/22/1947. Photo from the personal fund "Anatoly Ivanovich Kitov" at the Polytechnic Museum
These were some amazing people - people of the Renaissance. They had a property - they studied throughout their lives. The same Anatoly Ivanovich read biology books in the evening before going to bed, trying to understand the structure of the cell, the structure of the brain, and the root causes of oncological formations. When he began to travel abroad regularly, after fifty, he quickly learned spoken English and easily talked with foreign colleagues, lectured at American universities, and made presentations at conferences. He had a unique memory. He learned English for free reading of scientific literature at the military academy in the second half of the 1940s. And the main foreign language for him was German, which he had been fluent since the war.
Anatoly Ivanovich Kitov and VTs-1 of the USSR Ministry of Defense (military unit 01168)
My father had two passions: science and sport. I don’t remember him lying on the couch or sitting in front of the TV - all the time at the desk. He wrote something, thought... In the morning I woke up early - before school at 7 in the morning I ran with a friend along the embankment of the Moscow River. So, I wake up, and he is already sitting at the table. As for sports, he was the champion of Tashkent in gymnastics, a good tennis player, chess player. Every morning I did exercises, and also went to the pool of CSKA, on Leningradsky Prospekt, and took me with me. A track was assigned to his Computing Center No. 1, where employees could swim at a certain time.
Anatoly Kitov at his desk
In one of the visits to the pool, Dad says: “We need to call on my work. I’m a little worried, a serious matter is ahead. ” Then I found out that this was due to the launch of the satellite — the calculation of the orbit on the Strela computer, which was located in the EC No. 1. The CSKA pool is located at the Aeroport metro station, and the CC is at the Begovaya metro station. It is nearby, one district.
CSKA winter swimming pool in Moscow on Leningradsky Prospekt. Source
We arrived, the major, who was at the post, also missed me as a youth military leader, and I was also in short pants. And so we entered the engine room.It was huge, about 500 square meters. Lots of electronic lamps and wiring harnesses. Then a visit-effect happened - the boss arrived and the computer crashed. The engineer on duty, the captain, began to rush lightning through this engine room, looking for a reason. The system failed to determine the specific lamp that failed. He took out a huge block in which there were 20-30 of these lamps - checked, then took out another. As a result, he managed. A very energetic officer, like everyone in his shift duty.
In general, the VTs-1 is a separate story. In the 1950s, it was the largest computer center in the country and one of the largest in the world. More than 1000 people worked in it. There are 50 mathematicians alone, several hundred programmers - either 200, or 300. A whole army. Young people were mainly taken from the mechmath of Moscow State University and from other leading universities of the country. To get into this secret organization was prestigious. Good salaries, interesting work, provided housing. Now you don’t drag anyone into mailboxes because everyone wants to travel around the world, and then in any case no one went, because they didn’t let them out - the border is on the lock.
Solemn meeting in the Exhibition Center-1 of the USSR Ministry of Defense. In the front row on the left is Colonel Anatoly Kitov
Talented youth. Powerful scientific elite: Lazar Aronovich Lyusternik, Alexei Andreevich Lyapunov, Nikolai Panteleimonovich Buslenko, Igor Andreevich Poletaev, Oleg Vladimirovich Sosyura, Nikolai Andreevich Krinitsky and several others. A very strong middle link is the heads of laboratories, senior researchers, department heads. Basically, they were war veterans, people who went through the war and felt their calling. So was my father. Before the war, he wanted to be a nuclear scientist, studied at the University for two months at the Physics and Mathematics Department, but when he saw Katyusha, he realized that the rocket era was beginning and entered the Dzerzhinsky Academy's Department of Jet Weapons. The first work is on the Queen. They made the R-1 rocket, an exact copy of the V-2. Stalin then banned any modifications - only copy, and so that took off.
Transportation of the R-1 rocket
My father has an invention, fundamental articles with mathematical calculations on rocket topics. But then computers appeared, and that fascinated him. Anatoly Ivanovich believed that the basis of the foundations is mathematics. While still studying at the Dzerzhinsky Artillery Academy, he received personal permission from the head of the academy to attend seminars by Andrey Nikolayevich Kolmogorov at the mechanics department of Moscow State University. He believed that mathematics develops brains and enhances the overall scientific culture. Therefore, he introduced additional education for all VTs-1 employees in mathematical courses, along with computer training and programming. New employees came from universities and were immediately sent to graduate.
And how electronic engineers were taught! By the decision of the USSR Government, the first Strela computers were delivered to the Institute of Applied Mathematics, where Keldysh was the director and nuclear reactions were considered; in the research institute "Almaz", where Raspletin created air defense systems; in the VTs-1 of the Ministry of Defense of the USSR, the VTs of the Academy of Sciences and in the Scientific and Research Center of Moscow State University. In the last two CCs, defense tasks were also considered, and the floor where the computer stood was closed - everything was secret.
In the very middle of 1954, Anatoly Kitov signed an order for military unit 01168: “Send electronic engineers to SKB-245 to work together on the production of the Strela computer for VTs-1.” That is, the VTs-1 engineers were sent to where their Strela was made. By specialization: one group of officers was thrown to create an AU (arithmetic device), the other to RAM, the third to external drives, etc. Moreover, with weekly written reports on the work done. In the end, all the business travelers passed the exams of the joint commission of representatives of SKB-245 and VTs-1. So taught and studied in the 1950s.
After the Central Research Institute "Monolith" (PO Box P-6211), there was a period when I worked for about two years as the head of the laboratory of computer networks at the Institute of Cybernetics. There, for agriculture, an animal feeding control system was made. It is very interesting. As you feed a cow, she will give milk.There was a whole generation of “feeding pigs” programs created in the laboratory of my colleague Sergey Buryan: the Khryak-1, Khryak-2, and Khryak-3 complexes. Feeding cows - there, as I recall, up to 60 ingredients, from which, depending on the time of year, their nutrition is formed. Now the Russian company Aplana-Europe, led by Igor Morozov, has created an interesting system for managing meat and dairy complexes for the UK. Now the power management of the British cows is done according to our Russian algorithms.
At the very beginning of 1991, Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) - then the main competitor of IBM - decided to open a representative office in the USSR. In the Soviet Union, EU computers were analogs of IBM 360 computers, and SM computers were DEC computers. DEC made a great PDP 11/70 computer. In March 1991, I went through five interviews and from April I began to work for them. By the way, he was the first Russian to be hired by the Moscow office. I do not exclude that it is largely due to the fact that he led the creation of OBI - a competitive product of the IBM CICS system. But the capitalist period of my labor activity is probably a different story.