43 72 Old Soviet Calculators

72 Old Soviet Calculators

Posted on February 14, 2007 by

Yes, 72 different calcs from Soviet times. All are from collection of Sergei Frolov.

Different in size, colour and functions but all from one brand “Electronica”. There were no another brand of calculators at that time in Soviet Union – all had to buy and use only Electronika things.


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43 Responses to “72 Old Soviet Calculators”

  1. Timothy Post says:

    Who says there wasn’t consumer choice in the USSR?

    • Boris says:

      1. Calculators were extremely expensive, hard to get even with the wage of professional jobs such as doctors.

      2. They were difficult to get! There was a deficit on everything (food, etc.), especially in the late 1980’s. Unless you lived in Moscow, of course. Even professional workers had to go to their country houses each weekend to harvest crops so that they could have food. Living on a farm that time was actually attractive due to the constant food supply! Imagine saving thousands of dollars, not having anything to buy it with. Now it’s 1991, they switched to new currency-guess what, your hard-earned money is worth less that toilet paper. Even worse news if you kept it at a bank; it was better to keep money in a metal can and bury it. Just when you thought everything was normal, the inflation rate shot up in the 1990’s.

      3. These models were probably most, if not all, that were made. Remember, this spans 1960-1991.

      I am sensing that people in Moscow are going to criticize me with comments.

    • altima says:

      back in the 1980-es you could see calculators only at the accounting offices. at shops there were counting frames and mechanical cash registers with electric drive. the counting frames disappeared only by 1992-93. though I love the old calculators with the green lamp displays. I still have one brought by my Mom from an accounting office when they upgraded for the PCs in 1990.

  2. Texas1 says:

    Some of these were sold in the United States or maybe the Russians just made copies of calculators that were manufactured by Texas Instruments. I kind of remember that owl calculator when I was a kid. It seems to me like it was more of a game like flash cards where the user had to do math drills.

  3. RedLeader says:

    did that big one that looks like an oscilliscope do anything else? The keypad looks more complex.

  4. Texas1 says:

    I think that Sharp made the MK-95, MK-85 and MH-92. Did it have the BASIC programming language?

  5. Texas1 says:

    The b3-35 and a few others look like they were made by Hewlett-Packard.

  6. Gregg says:

    Why are a lot of the calculators’ displays set to “12370106”?

  7. max rubin says:

    These vintage calculators / early computers look essentially similar in appearence to western models of the time period.
    Inside are they simply copies or did these vintage calculators support new design or computer circuitry features ?

    • Texas1 says:

      Most of these were not made in Russia. I’ve identifed models built by HP, Sharp and Texas Instruments.

    • Boris says:

      They were mostly copies, the only difference being the very low reliability of USSR-made IC’s. Even East-German made computers crashed every couple hours. Not because of software, like Windows, but HARDWARE.

      • Texas1 says:

        I guess you are right about the HP looking calculators. HP’s actually have keys that are more round or bubble shaped. However, the MK-92, MK-95, and MK-85 really look like calculators that were built by Sharp and allowed the user to program in BASIC. The Sharp version even had a tape back-up unit that you could buy and printer like that shown for the MK-92. As I recall, there may have been another company like HP that offered this same product too. I actually used one a few years ago in a Calculus class.

  8. eereek says:

    “Elektronika” was Svetlana’s consumer electronics brandname. Most of these calculators were manufactured by Svetlana. It was a huge company–until the Soviet Union broke up. Now, all they make are vacuum tubes for guitar amps and radio transmitters.

  9. Dave says:

    I love the Nixie tube ones.

  10. Boris says:

    Interesting thing, all the manuals for EVERYTHING made in USSR had a full size schematic of all the parts inside. That means if you bought a computer or calculator, that’s right, you get a table-sized blueprint of the circuit inside of the device.

    An example from above: http://englishrussia.com/images/soviet_calcs/61.jpg
    You can even see the o’scope readings at the top of the manual. Imagine repairing a calculator!!

    TOTALLY opposite to Japanese manuals:

    • Texas1 says:

      I think those units from Sharp that allowed the user to program in BASIC came with a schematic. You are right though, it would be completely unlike an American or Japanese company to supply schematics. They would much rather charge a repair fee and require factory authorized repairs.

  11. A.J. says:

    The calculator in the 27th image (oddly enough, entitled “27.jpg”) calls itself “ISKRA 110″. Is “Iskra” (spark) a model name, or is it a different maker than “Elektronika”?

    Also, some other folks mentioned the one with the owl face on it. It appears to be a copy of the Little Professor by Texas Instruments, which was, as someone said, an educational device and not really a calculator. The genuine Little Professor was sold for many years and went through several changes. At first, it had normal calculator-style rectangular keys and LED display. Later, it had the large symbol-shaped keys and LCD display. Somewhere in between, I believe it may have also had the symbol-shaped keys with the LED display.

    Does anyone know if this owl-calculator is really a calculator, or does it also duplicate the teaching function of the Little Professor?

    • Texas1 says:

      The Little Professor looked much different. The Owl calculator was definitely sold in the United States. My guess is that this was simply copied by the Russians during the cold war. Many countries would not ship microprocessors to Russia at that time. As a result, the Russians became really good at copying microprocessors and other products during that time.

  12. Ф.Т. says:

    Круто! У меня был тот, который на самой первой картинке…
    I had one from the first picture!!!!

  13. Sauri says:

    I still have my mk85 somewhere :).

  14. Ticker says:

    Безобразие! Забыли про самую массовую мини-ЭВМ СССР конца 80-х – начала 90-х годов прошлого века. Я о БК 0010-01. Ее выпускали 4 завода (в Павловом Посаде, Ереване, Казани и Шауляе).
    В ней было аж 28Кб ОЗУ в расширенном режиме.
    Только в Ленинградском универе было около 3000 таких ЭВМ.
    Вспоминаю и плачу :)

  15. his says:

    Afftor pishi ischo. Ymri dyrak;)

  16. Remo says:

    Глупее ВАС на планете больше никого нет!
    Вы просто ДЕБИЛЫ!
    И вы ещё имеете право шутить над самой культурной и образованной страной ?
    Плевать мне на вас всех!!!!
    У вас даже истории своей нет!!!!

    поцелуйте мой зад!!!!

    (_I_) (_I_) (_I_) (_I_) (_I_) (_I_)

  17. Pigeon says:

    What is the significance of “12370106”? Is it a Russian version of “58008618”… is there a Russian word or phrase that looks like “goiolezi” or similar? Or can you mangle it into referring to a significant event in Russian history or something?

  18. pynipple says:

    beautiful collection, I love the ones that use nixie tubes for the digits – great page

  19. eye says:

    To the discussion above, whether the calculators were original SU products or imported and relabeled western ones.

    I have seen disassemblies of those on http://rk86.com/frolov/ of some of which i recall similarly looking non-SU counterparts, and they clearly show soviet PCB markings, chips and connectors. See especially MK-98, MK-90, both being fully programable.

    Certainly starting with 1980ies import of foreign parts or complete unlabeled devices was possible too, e.g. my VEGA tape machine had completely russian electronics but SANYO mechanics in it.

    I guess russians were quite good at photocopying chips – which wasn’t much of a unique strategy as AMD was photocopying Intel chips for a while without license too. The russian z80 clone ran easily at 8MHz as opposed to original 4MHz zilog/hitachi part. That the eastern home computers were unreliable is probably more of a problem of shoddy power transistors used in the supply chain, nor was it really a unique thing, consider early Commodore computers.

    The number on the photos does not have a meaning when turned upside down, etc. It is merely the ICQ number of the collector whose photos these are.

  20. This page contains photos of calculators which are illegally taken from my site.
    I did not give you any rights to placing of these photos to your site, and I demand them to remove.

    Sergei Frolov

  21. nikoswashere says:

    Interesting collection

  22. shadowman says:

    The very last one looks like a near-identical copy of an old Hewlett-Packard programmable calculator I have. It’s in storage, and I forget the model number. But it had a total of 4 registers (3 that were displayed on the screen), and used base-10 magnetic core memory. It’s a heavy beast, with a cast iron frame!

  23. This article award many tips. It is handy.

  24. buy jeans says:

    very old times, very old calculators and what we have today, this looks more than a museum…

  25. George Johnson says:

    Wrong… Those were not all made by Electronika.

    maybe the soviet leader gave a buddy of his an import contract so he could import calculators from other companies, and just put the “Electronika” brand on them.

    That’s pretty common even today (but not having ONLY one company that sells such a product).

    So they may have been SOLD by them, but they did NOT make them all. They styles just vary WAY too much for that.

  26. Luis E Prieto H says:

    I studied in Kiev on a Scholarship (1977 – 1983). They sold an exact copy of my HP25C, an Electronika Calculator, the only one there that at the time didn’t have the “=” sign, as it worked RPN. I read the Manual (In Russian Language), also an exct copy of the HP’s, with the only difference that they didn’t explain de RPN logic and its advantages, they just gave examples of how to perform calculations, so people couldn’t figure out why to shift from Algebraic to RPN, so they didn’t buy it a lot.
    I was invited in my Faculty of Civil Engineering to do a lecture on how and why it works.
    I don’t see the model in Mr. Frolov’s collection

  27. Luis E Prieto H says:

    A lot to comment on their Technology at the time:
    While in the National University of Colombia (Where I did study before I got the Scholarship in USSR) they ran an IBM 3600, wich took half a block and had AC(and we had to Punch Cards tu run Programs) I once visited the Kiev Civil Engineering Institut’s Mainframe: To input instructions they used a regular typing machine with soldered wire connections behind each key, so a bunch on 40-something cables ran from below the typing machine to the Processing box; from there a bunch of cables went back to the monitor: A regular commercial TV set, which served as a monitor (When I metion a bunch of cables, I mean all of them running on the floor, afixed to it with regular transparent Scotch tape. For AC, a bunch of regular 16″ Ventilators were kept on behind the Processing Box.
    That Level of Technology took them to the space.
    I wrote at the time an Article on a comparison of the two Computers, I think, if I’m not wrong, in the magazin “Nauka”(= “Science” in Russian Language); I never kept a copy.
    Back on my HP 25C, as it was programmable (Although with only 100 steps capability), it helped me help my co-eds with assigments / homeworks, specially in Topography, Structures and Strenght of Materials. Everyone decided to compensate me the same way: With a bottle a Vodka; I ended up with a collection of 30-something bottles under my bed. I drank my share of Vodka, I don’t drink it anymore

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