How Not to Network a Nation. The Uneasy History of the Soviet Internet

(Ben Green) #1

Staging the OGAS, 1962 to 1969 129

controlled mechanical explosions in the magisterial monastery. Water
fetched from a nearby well was used to extinguish the fires because the
building where the first computer in Europe was built had no plumbing.
After work, the mood lightened. Bus drivers were sent on wild goose chases
through the forest, and juggling and ping-pong balls ricocheted down the
hallways of offices and laboratories. On work breaks, volleyball and soccer
games broke out, and after work, the researchers ran to swim in the nearby
lake and to wander through the tall pines and oak trees of the surrounding
forest. Lebedev and Glushkov are rumored to have drafted the organization
of the Institute of Cybernetics, built three kilometers to the west, while
strolling together through that forest.
When the Academy of Sciences appointed Glushkov to be the first
director of the new Institute of Cybernetics, some of that informal spirit
transferred to the new institution, in part thanks to a prolonged transition
period during the 1960s in which the campus where the institute is cur-
rently housed was built. In the after-work hours and at holiday parties, the

Figure 4.6
Park, pond, and forest in Feofania, the general setting for Sergei Lebedev’s computing
laboratory, late 1940s to 1950s.

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