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Remembering Sergey Lebedev Soviet Computing Pioneer

Sergey Lebedev Pioneering MESM ProjectMost of the World celebrated Decemeber as Christmas day, but in the countries which use the “Orthodox calendar,” December 25 was just another day. However, with a difference, as it also marks marks the anniversay of a key development in European computer history.

“Sixty years ago on Dec 25, in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, the Soviet Academy of Sciences finally granted formal recognition to Sergey Lebedev’s pioneering MESM project,” Google reveale.

Described by some as the “Soviet Alan Turing,” Sergey Lebedev had been thinking about computing as far back as the 1930’s, until interrupted by war. In 1946 he was made director of Kyiv’s Institute of Electrical Engineering. Soon after, stories of “electronic brains” in the West began to circulate and his interest in computing revived.

“MESM, a Russian abbreviation for “Small Electronic Calculating Machine,” is regarded as the earliest, fully operational electronic computer in the Soviet Union–and indeed continental Europe.”

Google European team uploaded a video of their talk with the Boris Malinovsky (who worked on MESM and is now a leading expert on Soviet-era computing) about Lebedev’s achievements: (Turn on captions for the English translation)

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