The story of the first electronic computer in Hungary
Keywords:computing history, computers and education, Hungarian scholars
After several preparatory activities in the early 50s, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences decided that it is necessary to have an electronic computer in Hungary. The Research Group for Cybernetics was established in mid-1956 and charged with the task of obtaining one. As commercial solutions proved to be impossible at that time it was decided to build the clone of a recently developed Soviet computer. The M-3 was a medium sized member of one of the first families of Soviet computers. Complete documentation and a package of key components were received in the framework of scientific cooperation. (Similar clones were built in Tallinn, Beijing, Erevan and M-3 was later manufactured in Minsk) Building of the M-3 started late 1957 (with the author's participation). Some life-signs were emerging in 1959, while more-or-less stabile operation was reached in 1960. Several improvements were made over the original design. Magnetic drum memory was exported to Timisoara for MECIPT. Despite its low performance, M-3 was successfully used to solve many real-life problems both for scientific-engineering calculations and in mathematical economics. Applications in other fields, like linguistics started too. The most important contribution of M-3 was its role in educating computer experts: many of the future leading personalities - both on the development and on the application side - got acquainted with computing around the M-3. M-3 served academic computing until 1965, extended with three more years at Szeged University. In the first part of the 60s commercial computers started to arrive to Hungary both from the USSR and the West.