Gallery of the Soviet Union's most desirable personal computers

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This is kind of misleading: Robotron was not a computer but the name of the VEB, in East Germany responsible for the development and production of everything electronic. The model 1715 was in 1984 presented on the CeBIT and was sold in West Europe (no idea how successful, it used a cloned Z80 and a reverse-engineered CP/M).


No Pentagon?

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I was just about to laugh at the soviet computer being actually red, but I guess it’s orange? Laughter averted.


not more reddish than orange?


That was precisely my brain’s reaction before I read the description, but now it’s too late. The unfunny genie is out of the bottle. The jerk.


Anyone know the function of the wonderful up and to the left arrow key on the one at the top of the blog post?

Just guessing a Home key of some sort? Seems to show up on several of the machines at the linked article. Also, 2 down arrows to double down on the fun.

I like how they just seem to have squeezed some of the keys in where they could.

And, oh! The things they could do!

Might be a Radio-86RK, since it’s hand-made.

Another, shorter version, which appears to have been uploaded by the creator, who also controls guitars and other instruments:

aaaaaand this one is controlled by… his phone? Can’t tell.


Why a tomato?

Both the Z80 clone U880 and the “PC” 1715 microcomputer apparently were built in the GDR and exported to the Soviet Union, not the other way around. The latter seems to have been quite common for office use.

They even built LANs :slight_smile:

I love the story how they distributed BASIC code on records and on educational radio programs, to record on audio cassette.

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Tomato is glorious fruit of socialist revolution, comrade!


The engineering, writing the code, buying the stuff, building the support mechanism…makes me feel pretty bad about all the time I spend masturbating.

not bad enough to stop but whatevs


I’ve always been sort of surprised at how many of the soviet computers were clones(I don’t know if the story about DEC engineers adding “If you are going to steal, steal from the best” to one of their die masks as a little hello to the reverse-engineers they knew would be coming is true or not; but the number of models that are partially or wholly clones is undeniable).

My understanding was always that the USSR didn’t exactly lack for mathematical and engineering talent; but had a lagging and somewhat dysfunctional industrial base, especially if you got further from classic heavy industry stuff.

Against that background, my expectation would have been a surfeit of neat designs and architectures(some probably never making it out of technical writeups), with limited ability to actually get them diffused into silicon on a remotely adequate process; rather than an apparently adequate ability to stamp out computers; but little enough design focus that reverse engineering was preferred in many cases.

Anyone know how that came to be?

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This seems like an appropriate place to drop a shout out to the way ahead-of-its-time Soviet programming language Refal

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Yeah, what kind of wrongheaded marketing person would associate a computer with a FRUIT?


I associate mine with naval ranks.

Where are they now?


I like the fact that one very common design feature that crops up on several of these models is the big red “STOP” button.

I could one of those in Emacs when it tries to highlight an 8MB file I foolishly opened with highlight-mode still turned on…