CIA HISTORICAL REVIEW PROGRAM RELEASE AS SANITIZED
CURRENT SUPPORT BRIEF
THE ERA: EW SOVIET ELECTRONIC COMPUTER
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND REPORTS
CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
This report represent! the Immediate views of the originating intelligence components of the Office of Research and Reports. Comments ore solicited.
. the tri in any manner to an unaut
revelation of which prohibited by law.
THS ERA: EW SOVIET ELECTRONIC COMPUTER
The USSR is scheduling initial series productionewelectronic digital computer, designated the ERA, his is the first effort by the Soviet Union to carry intoa high-speed digital computer designed primarily for thoand analysis of economic data. Up to the present, very few computers have been made available in the USSR for anything other than the highest priority military, scientific, and engineering activities. Within the Soviet context, therefore, the*scheduling of an economic data handling computer for industrial-scale production reflects the developmentroader, more flexible production base within the computer industry of the USSR. Within the international context, however, the design of the ERAechnology which is already obsolete in the US and other Free World countries, and t
1 ma uo ana otner tree world countries, and the total number of ERA computers to be producedepresentsractional share of one year's current output of business data handling computers in the US.
As recently asuch comments as the following were appearing regularly in the Soviet press:
n the whole, very few high-capacity machines for economic calculations are in operation.
hile high-speed computers are usedarge scale for economic operations in the US, such work is still in tbe research stage in the USSR. It is connected with the use of existing computers, such as the Ural, Strela,, for economic ch7 existing general-purposebeen proved not very suitable for economic calculations. 1/
Inhe first operational ERA computer was being installed and checked out at the Likhachev Automobile Plant inshowcase" enterprise frequently exhibited to foreign The building of five ERA units is scheduled1 and Soviet plans callumulative total outputnits by the end of the Seven-Year Plan/ In the US, IBM alono was building-erles computers at the rate of almostaythese machines wore phased out during autumn9 in favor of transistorized models. According to present plans, virtually all of the ERA computers will be allocated to regional computing centers and industrial enterprises where they are to be used for theof economic data handling. 3/
Tho unit price of the ERA computer reportedly will range2illion (old) rubleseries-production basis.reliminary evaluation of the ERA by US computer industryindicates that the factory priceomparable computerin the US would range0
Intrinsic to tho design of an economic data processing computer and Incorporated for the first time by Soviet designers into the ERA Is tho ability of the machine to handle both numerical and alpbabetl cal Inputs. While such alphanumeric computers have been widelyin the US and other Western countriesumber of years, all identified production-line Soviet computers other than the ERA
have been limited In their design to the handling of numerical data only.
The capacity of the ERA's internal matrix6 six-bit words) and external magnetic tape memory (five storages, eacheters length) must be rated as very small ln comparison with the memories currently available for buslnoss data handling machines pro duced in the West. Similarly,lnute spcod of the printer used for read-out on the ERA is considerably slower than the speeds achieved by US printers on the market several years ago. At least as earlyor example, alphanumeric read-out printers manufactured by UKIVAC, Analex, and Shepard of the US were operating at speeds ofines per minute. 5/
Finally, it is of considerable interest that tho ERA isransistorized computer. Although its design provides for adegree of miniaturization through the useargo number of solid state devices such as germanium diodes and ferrlte cores, the othor active components of tho ERA consistacuum tubesof transistors. In tho West and in Japan, design andof computers based on vacuum tube technology has beenowing to the abundant availability of transistors which, for many computer functions, are superior to vacuum tubes in terms of miniature size, reliability, service life, low power consumption, and low heat generation. Implicit in the decision to initiate1 large-scale production of another vacuum tube computertrong indication that the USSR is still confronted by problems ln
transistor production which were overcome by the West at leastyears ago.
Digest: onthly Review of Technology and
Scienco In Socialist Countrlos , (Prague: .
vtoaatlzatsiya prpdzvodstvo (Production Mechanization and..
Technical Digest:, loc. cit.
Eugene M. Grabbeutomation in Business and Industry,
(New York: John Wiley JL Sons.,.