Soviet RYAD Computrogram in Trouble
NATIONAL SECURITY INFORMATION authorind Ditclonjrc Subject lo Criminal Sanclions
Soviet RYADrogram in Trouble...
Otifraf Inuttlttncr Agrncy OlftUcwal* af Intrlttemf
The USSR continues to experience serious delays in the development, production, installation, and effective use of its RYAD computers, which form the cutting edge of the Kremlin's computer modernization program.
In the Ninth Five-Year, the USSR and its East European allies producedercent of the anticipated number of RYADeries of third generation computers modeled on theurthermore, output has included only the smaller, less powerful RYAD models, with the final product decidedly inferior to the IBM originals in reliability and compatibility and in the quality of associated input-output and auxiliary storage devices. Despite this poor track record, the Kremlin is pressing ahead in the Tenth Five-Year Plan, with the developmentYAD II series-similar to thecries.
In addition to the general-purpose RYAD computers-which represent aboutercent of the current value of output of the Soviet computer industry-thc USSR is turning out several types of specialized military and civilian computers. Through the brute force application of large technical resources the USSR is gradually incorporating modernechnology into its military and industrial operations, but at an efficiency level far below Western standards andechnological levt; roughlyears behind. Use of RYAD computers to handle complex Soviet military problems, such as command and control, will be delayed until larger RYAD systems, equipped with high-performance, off-the-shelf peripherals, appear In.
While the use of computers in specific civilian sectors moves forward in numerous small ways, the difficulties encountered ir these relatively simple
tasks demonstrate the unreality of grandiose schemes for computerizing the planning, management, and operation of the entire economy.
Soviet and East European achievements in the computer field.wou_ld.be even loss Impressive were It not for substantial acquisition-legally and Illegally1 -of Western equipment and technology.
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Soviet RYADrogram In Trouble
of the RYAD
The Soviet decision in theoamily of compatible3 RYAD computers was abelated response to the need for completernization of Soviet computer technology. The USSR was lagging far behind the West in the development, production, and application of data processing systems for economic anddustrial uses. Soviet computers had beenigned mainly for scientific applications and had insufficient internal memories. Auxiliarynnd input-output equipment werepoor and in short supply, electronicwere unreliable, spare parts wereto obtain,ultiplicity of models prevented usrrs from sharing programs andMoreover, because individual users typically made nonstandard modifications, even compatibility between computers of Uie same model was lost.
To cut development time and save re sourer s, ton-level planners chose to adopt the IBMogic design and software, using thetalents and production capacity ofand East European countries. The planners may also hr-'C gambled that the improvement in relations among several East and Wert European countries would speed acquisition of needed Western know-how. Also, the Soviets wanted to decrease Eas' European reliance on the Westupplier of com puling equipment.
The RYAD program was designedamily of seven computer models3 which were to be
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compatible with each other and withomputers as well. Production, originally planned to beginas delayed until2 when serial production started on the two smallest models in the scries, thendneveral different RYAD central processing unitsumber of RYAD-compaliblc peripheral equipments were exhibited in Moscow. Production of thirdRVADs thus began in ihe USSR andEurope about three years later thanand nearlyears later than produclion of comparable equipment in the West.4
Levels of Output
The RYAD produclion program hasto the advancement of the Sovietcomputers, althoughace far belowThe USSR and Eastern Europeproduced anthe Ninth Five-Ycar PlanThe USSR producedf this lotal-niostly theodels (sechemodels, thendthe Soviets had hoped to put intoproduction, were still under development
Output of RYADs in the USSR rose sharply over the plan period, from onlynits1nitsS. This growth was achieved mainly by shifting resources from lhcofo RYADst the Minsk Computer Plant, ands lo
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USSR and Eastern Europe: EstlirMed Produclion of RYAD Computers
t Kazan. By the endroduction ofad been phased out entirely. This left RYAD as the only major computer system in production that was intended mainly for use in economic data
As for East European producers. Eastprovided Ihc only success story. Eastdeveloped and produced theell-made and apparently reliable machine.output remained small, by the end5 East Germany was producing ot the rate ofnits per year and had thefacilities to produce roughly twice that figure. Elsewhere in Eastern Europe, progress In lhc production of RYADs was slow. Hungary took on the smallest and simplest machine in
*tn addition to RYAD, thereducingtttkt of computer* for Industrial control apnlkstloni. Some model) In ihU uln,Uo arcon* and ir*wth RYAIH tat* procawln* apptkattoru, Th* (lain* nf pr.JiMik.iihirdh* UKALwhkh had reiuttedlkr Soviet attempt* toompatible famll* of computersalIi nol known.
the RYAD family, theul hod gotten production up toilszechoslovakia was producing thet the rate of less than two per monthnd Poland, which was intended toajorof theod builtingle prototype.
, Furthermore, in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, the machines produced were not fullywith the other RYAD models. They arc still included In the RYAD family because they can use the same Input-output and relatedequipment. Thes used asfront endnitiilly massaging the data for further processing by the larger RYADs,ontrol unitrocess controlinicomputer forproblem solving. The Czechoslovakhas found little acceptance either inside or outside Czechoslovakia.
Failure to Meet Plan
Output of RYADs in the USSR and Eastern Europe has fallen lar short of the planners'
expectations. Specific numerical goals for the production of RYADs have never beenThe Soviets, at least early in the program, apparently anticipated outputearorc. Rakovskiy, the Deputy Minister of COSPLAN, hinted100 RYADs would be available for use during the Ninth Five-Year Plan.
In the USSR, production of RYADs has been delayed by shortages of adequate components (mainly integrated circuits) and by backward production technology and quality assurance.ew Integrated circuits (ICs) were available for RYADs. The USSR produced ICs cf the type used by smaller RYADs7 only in very small quantities; yields of acceptablewere low, with military authorities having first selection of the better quality devices.of ICs increased rapidlynabling the USSR to move into commercial-scaleof the smaller RYAD machines.
Poor fabrication techniques have also held down production. Lacking the advancedof Western producers, the Soviets have substituted manual techniques for automatic wiring of back panels and for automaticof components into printed-clrcuitn addition, the Soviets havo relied on simple electrical and electronic Instrumentation (such as voltmeters and oscilloscopes) for onlineof subassemblies, while most Westernuse computerized test equipment.
Mass production of RYADs has also been dciaycd by tinht competition for resources within the computer industry. RYAD, while the most publicized program, is only one of several large computer production programs In the USSR. The share of RYAD output In the total value of Soviet computer production probably amounted to less thanercenthis calculation is based on the unit price of RYAD
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n standardncluding associated peripherals.
YAD production will remain less than half of the computer industry's output even in the unlikely event that RYADcan be boostednits per year. That level of output would requirenew plant capacity or converting existing facilities to the -RYAD program. Inhere was no evidence of cither development.
Problems with Peripherals
Conventional types of peripheraland pupcr tape devices. line printers, and magnetic tape units-appear to be produced in adequate quantities to meet RYAD production needs, but are obsolescent by West-em standards. For example, Soviet-produced line printers in use with RYADs arc slower and of generally lower performance than printersith IBMachines. Soviettape units arc approximatelyearsJ Western state of the art and have not been supplied with sufficient quantities ofproduced high-quality magnetic tapes. The USSR has tried to remedy this shortage bytape from the US and Western Europe, and magnetic tape units from Eastern Europe.
Failure of the USSR to produce high-capacity magnetic disc drives nnd disc packs hasajor deficiency in peripherals technology. Most of the RYADs produced lo date useisc drives produced by Bulgariamcgnbytc disc drives imported from the West. Soviet and Bulgarian claims that productioncgabyte drives is imminent are exaggerated, to judite from the continued vigorous pursuit o( Western manufacturingfor high-capacity drives.
Relation of RYAD to Overall Computer Effort
Despite the unspectacular performance, the Soviets appear committed to RYAD as the major computer system for Soviet general-purpose data processing
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needs. Conversion to large-scale production of upgraded models is now being accomplished and planning is under wayollow-on program of more advanced RYAD-lt systems.
At the same time, other special-purposeprograms for both mililary and industrial applications are proceeding apace. Militaryinclude: developmentew miliiaiy computer system al the Vilnyus ComputingPlant; expansion of mililary computer production at the Minsk Computer Plant: and continuing strong efforts on military-related computers by major development centers in Moscow, supported by produclion facilities in Moscow and Zagorsk. Among special-purposefor industrial applications,of0 process-controlbelieved toopyewlett-Packard model, is being emphasized.
Role of Weitern Technology
Western technology has made importantlo the RYAD program, both directly and indirectly. The West has (a) been the source of designs for most models of the RYAD family, (b) provided manufacturing technology for disc drives and packs, and ic) furnished components, especially some types of integrated circuits in critically short supply in the USSR and Eastern Europe. Moreover, the USSR has acquired, through both legal and illegal channels, specific items of machinery crucial lo the development of supporting technologies, such us machines used In the production of multilayer printed-circuit boards. Integrated circuits, and memory cores. The Communist countries are acquiring valuable expertise in systems analysis,and other computer specialtiesraining center in Czechoslovakia established under United Nations auspices. Centeralso conduct courses in the USSR andin Eastern Europe. Much of thb training and experience is applicable to the exploitation of RYADs. Finally, the Soviets have gainedand training In systems analysis,and applications, through work in Western computer installations, and through purchases of RYAD-like computer systems.
The USSR began to copy IBM designs after it clandestinely acquired an unknown number ofomputers in the. About the same time. East Germany alsoacquired an IBM computer and/or major subsystems and components which served as the basis for development of lhc
None of ilic oilier countries in Eastern Europe, so far as is known, hai tx-en directly involved in copying IBM computers or components.
The USSR copied mainly the architecture (or*f thehile Eustalso appears to have attempted to copy the physical layout, subassemblies, andCopying by East Germany, whichdismantling, measuring, and analysis of purti and circuitry, required atman-years to bring therogram to the stage of production prototypes.
East Germany may have chosen to go the route of complete duplication because of its willingness to use, or Its broad access to, critical components from the West. The USSR, on the other hand, may have felt that it could leap-frog valuable development time by designing around its own components. In any event, East German copying efforts appear to have been the most successful, since Its RYAD modelore closely approximates the operationalof the IBM machines than any other RYAD model.
The design of the Hungarian version of RYADs based on lhc designrench computer which the French firm0 licensed Hungary to produce. Hungary modified the design of that computer to work with RYAD peripherals.
Since the USSR has been unable or unwilling to provide Eastern Europe with neededor semiconductors, several countries have been forced to use Western-madeFor example, Hungary's model has been built with substantial reliance on Western components; Poland has acquired smallof Western semiconductors for RYADclopment work; and East Germany hasboth Communist and Western (US, West
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soviet capability to provide comporents for RYADs-though severely limited-has been aided greatly by acquisition of Western-made machinery. The acquisitions iwvc included whole plants for production.of pilntcd-circuitfor most of the processes in IC manufacturing.-specialized equipment for making memory cores, and technology forand testing memories. The illegalof core presses and lest machinery has inadc it possible for the USSR to providememory capability in its new model RYADs developed
Bulgaria may have received assistanceup produclion of disc drives andinppar-
ently, Bulgaria did not acquire technologythe criticat magnetic recordingBulgariaarge numberheads legally and illegallyBulgaria alsoidemachined metal parts for disc drives.is believed to have acquired',s
RYAD development nnd production program, including production machinery and know-how.
Backwardness of Eastern Technology
The RYADs produced to ddtc have failed to achieve the levels of technical performanceby original design goals; speeds have been slower and memory capacities far smaller than desired. The USSR came closest to reaching original speed goals with theut still fell shortercent. The Hungarian ES-lOIOs exhibited the poorest performance, with operating speeds falling short of goalsercent. In all cases, RYADs were able to reach only aboutercent of the original goats for memory capacity. Poor quality ICs and other design deficiencies were primarilyfor failure to meet speed :nd memory goals.ompares the original design goals for speed and memory for four RYAD models with 'hose actually achieved.
USSR and Eulern Europe: Performance of RYAD Compulcri. PUnned and Actual
re lypleil Intialkd memory ittei;tew lar-er InataUatlonieen noted.
That the USSR is not reported to haveany RYADs with Ihe maximum internal storage capacity cited in early design goals may be due in part to manufacturing problems that forced use of coresm outside diameter rather lhanm cores or-'nally specified for Ihe computers. The larger powerand increased heat dissipation problems with the larger cores impose constraints on (he capacity and performance of the internalthai are physically and economicallyfor most RYAD installations.
Medium-sized KYAD systemsnd)oor record for reliability. Central processors currently appear to operate satisfactorily, but users continue lo complain of lengthy downtime from overheating ofand frequent breakdowns ofPoorly constructed magnetic disc drives suffer from dust contamination and metalfrom temperature changes; these drives require excessive downtime for scheduledalone. In^,contrast. Ihe East German
is said lo be highly
reliaolc in operation.
The Soviets continue lo grapple with the technological design of Uie most powerful RYADs. Ihcndo achieve lhc high speeds called for in ihcschc designers arc using special ECL (emitter coupled logic) integrated circuits. These circuits tend lo break down under conditions_pf high heatby-lheir large powernd sustained by the poor heal dissipationof theesign. Recently, someave been delivered to Soviet users although series production is not yet apparent. Tlieontinues to be un("cr
Troubles with Software
Users of RYADs are faced with exceptional difficulties in meeting data processing needs with existingew standardprograms have been developed from scratch for use with RYAD. For the most part, programs currently in use were originallywilh thend have beento operate with RYAD. Even so. delays have been extensive: Ihc complcxilics ofalteration have lefl many of lhcrograms, as well as programs developed for other Soviet computer models, slill notfor use with RYAD. In addition, users have been unable to use, withoui modification, Ihc inventory of software programs devised by IBM for use with itsachines he-cause: (a) many IBM programs were designed for useifferent institutional environment and simply arc not applicable; (b) the memory capacity (especially external random access disc storage) requirements of many IBM programs exceed Ihc capabilities of RYAD computers: and (c) since the operating system for Ihc Soviet RYAD isrecise duplicate of theost IBM programs requireto run on RYAD machines.
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As an exception to thesesers of the East Germans may be able to employ directlypplications programs East Germany seems to have duplicated the IBM operating system successfully. East Germany's assimilation of IBMharp contrast with the experience of other RYADreflects the closeness of itsIn computer technology with West German manufacturers.
The Soviets have Intensified efforts to rewrite existing RYAD programs and to develop new standardized data processing programsfor RYAD computers. At the same time, the Soviets are developing new opcratl.igto reduce the need for programFor example, the development ofDisc Operatinghich is capable of utilizing "most" of the programs for theas recently announced. Thismay be intended for use only with the RYADs produced at Minsk, since it wasat the Mtn-tk Scientific Research Institute of Electronic Computers, the institute thatthendarger and much more versatile system, called ES-OS. also Is under development It Is being designed toseveral different programs simultaneously (multiprogranting).
The status ofnd ES-OS Ins not known. The OS, in particular, has not been fully tested; implementation of thbsystem will require internal and external memory capacity greater than what Is being delivered with most RYADs. Checkout and debugging of ES-OS almos' certainly willfor several years.
Acceptance of RYADs
The USSR is the largest user of RYADs. During the Ninth Five*Year Plan, East Germany shipped about one-third of its output to the USSR, and Hungary aboutercent of its output. Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria produced RYADs mainly for their domestic markets. Of the moreYADS exported2 by the USSR, the bulk of these were supplied to
Eastern Europe. The USSR has shippedthe Netherlands. Belgium, and Finlandin Soviet-control led firm* in thoseIndia, and probablyew olhcrcountries..Sofficl-
controllcd firms w: .ittrmpt to market more" RYADs, apparently in. RYADs may eventuallymall market in developing countries i* reliability, servicing and the availability of spare parts can be improved.
Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland have participated in the RYAD program reluctantly. Understandably they prefer native or Western computers for their own use. Poland, infavors Its own successful line of ODRA computers, which have been built under British license. However, Soviet pressure is mounting for greater participation by Poland In the RYAD program, lessening Poland's chances to market ODRAs in Eastern Eurcpe as an alternative to RYAD.
Even as RYADs began to go Into large-scale productionhe Soviets were busy de-signina more powerful versions of the basic: models. These new computers, thendre to replace thendhey have been designed to operateaster than tho original models-five times as fast in the case of thend to have double the memory capacity (sec. Higher speeds and larger memories are achieved through the application of more powerful civ-cults and smaller memory cores; otherwise, the original models arc largely unchanged.
The new models went into production in the USSR6 and production of thel models has been substantially reduced.rates of Ihe new machines can be cxpxtcd to rise rapidly since no major changes intechnology need io be assimilated.inse of theecentlysimplified produclion methods maylearning effects. Even so,6 and
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t least, total production may not reach the maximum level achieved for the original RYADs5ariety of reasons. The changeover involves disruption to the rhythm ol* production; dissatisfied users ofre shipping their machines oack to the factory for conversion; and shortages havesurfaced in the supply of higher powered integrated circuits.
In Eastern Europe, only Hi ngary and Poland have introduced* upgraded models in the first scries of RYAD machlnca.ungary Introduced an upgradedalled theM. Further modifications such as the. will not be able to run RYADprograms, as wu the case with the
Poland has developed theodel that has operating speeds comparable with those of the Soviett appears to have been developed Independently of the USSR.testing was under way Innd the model may new be in production. Poland claims to have the capacity to produce "many more" thannits annually and will producepecial order basis.
In addition to the computer proper, the USSR Is attempting to Improve the capabilities and diversity of peripheral devices for use with RYADs.he Soviets claimed to have developedew peripherals, Includingadvanced types with advertisedclose to those In use in theew yearsew ofexample, graphic terminals, data transmission equipment,been shown at trade fairs, usuallyonopcrating mode; none of the advancedhave been observed in use with RYADser environment. Indeed, RYAD computers are still being delivered with the standardof the peripherals offered five years ago; in many cases, these peripnerah arc simoly repackaged versions of devices developed for even earlier computers. Thus, significant new peripherals apparently are not yet beingat least in quantity.
Some progress has been made by Bulgaria in mastering the technology for manufacturing high-capacity magnetic disc devices, which are needed to exploit fully the inherent processing capabilities of the new models.^
arge number ofmcgabyte drives. The East Germans ullege that the ilrivcs operate reliably, f.
not allowed to inspect the drives to determine if the components (especially the magnetic recording heads) were of Communist or Western origin.
For Its part, the USSR also claims to hemcgabyte drives-some have been displayed at tradethese claims are doubtful. The Soviets arc still attempting to acquire US technology to make such drives, and the Ministry of the Radio Industry reportedly has been experiencing technical difficulties with production.
1 Inhe RYADew generation of RYADcalled RYAD II, was under development,arget date for production has not been announced. RYAD lis, patterned oftcr theIBMomputers, arc to be much more powerful than current models and toajor advance in Communisttechnology. They are to be compatible with existing RYADs and wilh both
andachinei According tosources, RYAD Us will have:
A much larger capacity Tor internal storage of data. This will be accomplished, In part, through the use of semiconductor memories and, in part, through the use of.
A larger number of datahese features willthe use of higher speed peripherals and greatly Increase data processing capabilities,
A capability for "network" operations, that la, for computer-to-computer
Improved reliability through computer self-diagnosis of faults.
The technology of RYAD II is far beyond current state of the art In the USSR and Eastern Europe. In particular, RYAD II will need very high density Integrated circuits (large-scalefor internal memory and some logic processes. Circuits currently in use aresimple, low-density (small-scaletypes. The capacity of the disc drives0 megabytes and larger) exceeds the capacity of drives available from Bulgaria by more than three times and of drives mostIn use by almost IS times. Theof the software needed to operate RYAD Ils is considerably greater than that now In use.
The Soviets claim to have developed working prototypes of two models ofhend thend to be nejiring production of these two models. The USSR conceivably couldmall number ofodels duringh Five-Year Plan; bev.iise of the enormous leap in technology required, however, any units produced would
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ht-ve few of the advanced features indicatedIn particular, "network" operations are doubtful for many years because of the lack of data transmission equipment.
If RYAD Us arc to be produced according to design specificationsreat deal of Western machinery and production know-howe required. Indeed, the vigor with which the Soviets seeR this-technology, by both legal and illegal means, will provide an indication of the priority attached to this program.
In the near future the number of RYADs in operation will be too small tooticeable boost to the Soviet economv.YADs may be Installed and at work in the USSR. No more than half are likely to be in production facilities-os opposed to institutes andany of the larger plants will have more than one. Of the0 industrial enterprises, fewerercent will be equipped with RYADshat is,odern data processing capability.
RYADs in place will continue to be used unproductively by US standards. Sovietare operatedoay. whereasoours or more are considered necessary foi economic use in WesternThe almost desperate shortage ofpersonnel is another factor impedingutilization. The planned replacement of existingith RYADs adds another costly and disruptive element; as notedcomplex modifications ofrograms are needed before this software can be used on RYADs. j.
Higher echelon organizations, at the ministry or national level, will be especially hard put to carry out complex planning and management activities with RYADs. since only the smaller machines will be generally available;of required software will require hugeof technical resources. Moreover, the collection and processing of data fromechelons will be difficult and inefficient since data transmission facilities for computer-
oinpulcf cuinniunlcotiors will not he avuil-jble.
The increasing availability of RYADin plunls, institutes, and otheiions should result in some reduction of ihs sh*tre of manpower assigned tork. It is noi clear, however, that they willel labor savings for industry or the economyhole. Users need to acquire personnel and staff to service and maintain the computers: theoviets have found that it takes ISO t< ercent more people, on the average, toomputer than it does in the West. In addition, computer people command higher wages than the people they are replacing.
The Soviets have traditionally used special purpose computers for military systems with specific functions, such as missile guidance or airborne navigation.-These special purposeprobably will continue loigh priority in Ihe Soviet computer industry. In addition. Ihe USSR needs general purposewith good data handling capabilitiesarge variety of military activities, such. control and monitoring of space activities,and control, and logistics Nonmilitary computers, such ass, have always been used for these purposes RYADs. especially the newer models now In produclion. will provide Improved data-handling capabilities over these models.
Currently, there is limited use of RYADs in Soviet military plants and Institutes. Theirfor the broader military problems listed above will have to await full development of larger RYAD systems, including especially major improvements intorage capacity and software, maintenance, aiuJ uwr experience. Uie of RYADs fot these complex military purposes cannot be expected before. Perspective
Since Worldhe Soviet economy hn, expanded more through extensive growth (ihc channeling of larger and larger amounts of labor and capital into production) than throughgrowth (the achievement of higher and higher yields from each unit of labor undxperiences in the computer field this general economic partem. The modernization of the Soviet computer industry has been given high priority by Ihc centraland planners have provided increasing inputs of factory floorspacc. technical labor, and funds to purchase foreign technology. At the same time, difficulties and delays common to Ihe whole economy have appeared, such as (n) setbacks in produclion schedules,f peripheral equipment and support services (support services lend to be neglected under centralnd (c) icluctancc of potential users lo accept the disruptions thatransition to new equipment or to new models of old equipment. Use of thetends to underscore the worsl features of the Soviet economy. Thus, while (he USSR is gradually incorporating the fruits of Ihe com-puler revolution Into its economy, lis mastery of the computer is approximatelyearsthe West.
n* author of this paper />
tconomlc RrtnutK Xommems and ^ucrir< arc wdcom.
Methodology For Production Estimates
Little hard information is available on which to base estimates of RYAD production. The numbers inn ihe text have been put togetherariety of sources, including: (a) open source information;^
pJTIm numbers are estimated4 with high confidence.5 estimate' -specially for the USSR, arc more
fallowed an estimate to be made3 for thend4 for the
production of thend made some estimates of the capacity of the plant. They observed that the plant was producingapacityomputers annually, and that twice as manysere being05 the capacity rcn ains the same, but it is known thatroducti in was being phased out. Production of the4easonable production of the scries from the previous years.
Total production of the East Germanas Rivenseveral occasionsiC
he annual series represents aoi mis total. Total RYAD produclion Tor the period inHungary, and Poland is provided
and. in the case of Hungary, by open sources. The annual figures are distributed on the basis of fragmentary information.
rovides an estimate of the production value of Soviet RYAD computersercentage of the total value of Soviet computer productionitter scries is from official Soviet statistics, whereas the RYAD value scries is based on the unit estimates Innd published pricesubles for theubles for theOriginal document.