The history of computers: a night at the Yandex Museum

    We love computers at Yandex, so we recently opened our own small museum. Here we collect rare examples of computer technology and knowledge about the people who influenced their development. Our exhibits work, you can touch them and run programs.

    This year we join the all-Russian action "Museum Night" and invite Habr readers to visit. On the night of May 18-19, every half hour from 20:00 to 5:30, we will conduct guided tours of the permanent exhibition. Yandex employees who are professionally engaged or simply fanatically devoted to retrotechnics will talk about the exhibits and everyday life of programmers of the past.

    Under the cut, we will briefly talk about some of our retrocomputers and funny facts from their history. You will also learn about other activities that we have prepared for our guests. Including for those who remember Mortal Kombat 3.


    Like Yandex, our museum began with the first server on which the search once worked. It looks like a regular personal computer. He has a Pentium II processor with a clock frequency of 266 MHz and a RAM capacity of 384 MB. Once upon a time, the FreeBSD operating system was installed on this computer. Now the machine boots from the Windows 3.1 CD. On it you can see the rare "Bible Search" - a program on which Ilya Segalovich and Arkady Volozh worked out the mechanism for constructing the inverse index.

    The first server spent several years at the Polytechnic Museum in Moscow, and then returned back to Yandex. Soon, a community of fans of retrocomputing arose around it, which not only helped to maintain the iron in working condition, but also became the source of other rare instances.

    At some point, we decided to share our collection with everyone and opened the Yandex Museum. This not only gave us official status, but also allowed us to purchase or rent other interesting computers. So we got NeXTcube , a second-generation workstation with a NeXT cube-shaped magnesium alloy system unit, which was founded by Steve Jobs after leaving Apple.

    At the NeXTcube in 1990, Tim Berners-Lee created the first www server and the first client-based browser editor program. John Carmack used NeXTcube to develop Wolfenstein 3D and Doom games.

    Also at our disposal was YIS-805developed by the Japanese company Yamaha in 1986. One of the modifications of this computer, YIS-805 / 128R2, specially designed for computer classes in Soviet schools, was exported to the Soviet Union under the name “KUVT 2”. R in the name of the model means Russia, and KUVT stands for "a set of educational computer technology."

    It was with this computer that probably the best album in the history of Soviet electronic music was recorded - “512 Kb” by Andrey Rodionov and Boris Tikhomirov.

    We also have Soviet computers. For example, " Electronics BK-0010"Developed at the Research Institute of Precise Technology in Zelenograd. In BK-10, the processor and memory are hidden in the keyboard. A monitor, a device for downloading programs from audio tapes and a mouse were separately connected to the computer. This was how many home computers of the 1980s were arranged, for example, the famous ZX Spectrum (which we also have).

    And here you will find the Soviet computer " Agat-7 ". In fact, the creators of Agate cloned an Apple II computer , even to the extent that some programs written for Apple II were launched on Agate 7 with additional expansion cards.

    This is only a small part of our computers. A more complete list can be found on the Yandex Museum website . But it’s better to see live once than to read.

    Game consoles and tournament

    In our museum we collect not only old computers, but also other equipment. For example, we have a Soviet calculator " Electronics MK-90 " that supports programming in the BASIC language. Remember the days when students played on calculators?

    We will not offer to play on the calculator, but we are ready to provide a collection of game consoles. The SNES , the Sega , « Dandy " (yes, this clone NES, we have), and even the NEC the PC-Engine Duo the R . Not as many as specialized collectors, but we are still young.

    All night at the Yandex Museum you can play classic computer games - for example, Mario , Pac-Man or Digger. There will also be tournaments in Mortal Kombat 3 and various other games - the winners will be awarded prizes. In the morning we sit comfortably at tea with buns and continue the conversation about the history and collecting of computers.

    Lectures and lectures

    For the curious, we have prepared not only devices, tours, games and tea, but also reports.

    At 20:00, Alexander Surkov will tell you what IoT is, show how it is arranged and introduce examples for both industry and home. At 23:00 he also "will show the way from transistors to simple computing devices." Both reports are intended for a wide audience, but for the second it is desirable to have a basic knowledge of electronics and Boolean algebra.

    At 21:00, collector Viktor Boev, whose exhibits form part of the exposition of our Museum, will share his life notes under the name “Technoarchaeology”.

    At 22:00, Pavel Anokhin will show how the interaction with the classic minicomputers of the 1960s looked on the example of one Museum exhibit: “We will focus specifically on programming the machine from the remote control: toggle switches, light bulbs, that's all that was so loved in old science fiction films and what modern computers don’t have at all. ”

    Computers PDP-11 from the 1970s have long worked at a variety of enterprises, banks, factories. But they began to break down and become worthless. In order not to rewrite the thousands of written programs for them, you need to teach a modern computer to work for its "great-great-great-grandfather." Georgy Barkan will tell about it at 00:00.

    We are waiting for you at: Moscow, st. Timur Frunze, d. 11, p. 13 Metro Park Kultury. Come to visit!

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