The Soviet Union was winning the cold war until the mid-1960’s. They had successfully taken nearly half of Europe and made it part of the Warsaw Pact. The Korean Peninsula was half divided, China had become a Socialist State, and India had also come under its orbit. In Vietnam, a successful war of attrition was being waged and the U.S. was losing day by day. In terms of weapon production the Soviet Union was keeping up the U.S.; however, when it came to nuclear weapon production they, were significantly ahead. The Soviet space program was also ahead of the U.S.; they entered space and launched satellites first, and generally understood the concepts of space earlier on. Their real issues started to arise in the early 1970’s when the price of oil skyrocketed and they reaped the benefits. They had no real economic reason to even begin to make their internal economy more efficient. They had to emulate the IBM System 360 Mainframe Computer successfully and built a supply chain to produce it. The Soviet Union believed this would be enough for their needs, as the whole world used this mainframe for their most advanced design uses. However, the early 1970’s were a time of change in the technology world. Even in the Western World, the new miniaturized computers were viewed with skepticism due to their lack of applications. Additionally, there were issues when the applications that were developed would freeze, and ultimately be undependable. The Soviet Union, due to Marxist philosophy, believed in creating means of production, but not the necessary catalysts for radical advancement or departure once a product came into production.
Items were improved in the Soviet Model but this slow evolution was not suited to the technology field after the development of the microprocessor; where massive capital expenditures would take place without any guarantee of a return. In the 1970’s, the Soviet Union would experiment with miniaturization of computers and use of compilers; however, they would eventually go back to write programs in Machine Code for much of the 70’s, as this is what it’s small cadre of computer experts were comfortable with. Soviet Designers were encouraged to pirate new hardware designs from the West, thus beginning a process of excellent schematic prowess, but incredibly bad production quality. Many personal computer designs were also successfully cloned, but the production of disk drives would become a disaster, as disks written on one computer could not be read on another. During this time, the U.S. was experiencing the same problem, but not the the same extent.
The Soviet Union would successfully produce a computer similar to a Commodore, known as the BK-0010. This machine was only able to generate 4 shades of based rendering, but the Soviet Union was able to mass produce it. An additional success was the Vector 06C; this computer could display 256 colors and was a significant competition to the Western Based Computer systems that held similar graphics abilities. By 1989, the Soviet Union had also developed a functioning IBM clone. However, due to a substantial number of product failures, each unit was only a small fortune for a Soviet user in cost. The issue would arise due to the U.S. regulation via CoCom and the Soviet Union’s time lag of about 5 years by 1989. Even when the restrictions were relaxed in the 1980’s, still only i8086 level computers could be exported from the U.S. This would ultimately lead to a massive technology gap; as by 1989, the i80486 became the flagship Intel processor.
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