46 thoughts on “Soviet Things”

    • I believe B&W tvs ended production in the US in the early 1970’s (at least that’s what I remember, i was very young then). Fully manual controls on color tvs were still in production up into the 80’s

    • is there any truth to the story that the Soviets prefered vacuum tube technology because it was thought that it would withstand the electro-magnetic pulse of a nuclear blast better than transistors and micro-chips?

      • I think it was mostly a result due to outdated technology. Russia semiconductors are terrible for the most part. I once saw a transistor made in the late 80’s with a datasheet (more like a paper towel from 1850 printed on a printing press than “paper”) which stated that the device will break down after 8 years and that if abnormal activity was found, it could be sent back to the manufacturer via mail (with handwritten references). This shows that they have design flaws (that make air, etc. leak into the part after time) and that they didn’t even know if it will last or how it behaves.

        It was a bonus to Soviet authorities that military\some customer technology had vacuum tubes. I guess that during the late 80’s\early 90’s everything was in deficit, such as food, and it was cheaper that time to produce tubes.

        btw, the TV has separate knobs for phase alignment, synchronization, etc. They only work in 2-3 positions because of the bad quality of carbon. And it has a knob on the back which allows it to work on 4 different voltages. Sounds kind of crazy. I once took the cover off and it looked like a military WII radio set from 1940. Even the vacuum tubes had separate metal spring-loaded containers, which will also help with EMP. Also the external surge protector for it is a 20lb block with large coils wound inside; the sound of current going through it makes you want to turn the volume all the way up…tells you something about the power quality.

        • when i was a kid i was actively engaging in radio-electronics. because it was expensive for me to buy new components or these would be hard to come by on the market i was regularly checking local dumpsters for old electronics to be used for parts in devices i was going to make. i can tell you i had great success using transistors produced in sixties (you could actually tell the year it was made from the markings). these worked very well, never mind these were 20-30 years old. most of the time i found them faulty is when i applied too much heat while soldering them out\in. i think the oldest transistor i found was from the year 1958 but i could be wrong.

          • the fact that the Soviets continued to make vacuum tubes into the 1990’s has proven to be a good thing for Russia and the world– now quite a few tubes originate in Russia now. I myself just bought some Electro-harmonix replacement tubes for my Supro guitar amp, tubes that were previously only available as antiques on ebay for $50 each, but new Russian-made versions were only $15 each, and I can get them matched.

            • yeah, tubes are being used in Audio Amps once again!

              sure it produces distortion, but thats distortion that somehow very pleasant to the human ear. (there was an article i read long ago about tube amp distortion and its effects on human brain-ear)

      • It`s true, about the tubes – they increase stability of electric circuits. And they are still used, and not only in Russia, and not only in military devices.

    • There were probably some 13 inch Korean models, mostly Samsung that were still imported in 1985-87.

      Not to sound disrespectful, but but a number of the toys, and electronics look like copies from US companies. The tape recorder looks like a General Electric. The movie projector is a copy of a Bell & Howell, and that record player might have been a fisher-price. It’s funny how the Russian didn’t just copy the guts o these. They actually tried to make them look identical.

    • Nowadays people don’t feel ashamed anymore owing an oversized house. But they are still hated – that’s why these houses are surrounded by a high wall.

  1. Can someone enlighten us “non-soviets” ? For example what was the glass bottle for ? The ticket ? What’s in the can ?

    • RE: anti-pop
      It’s a shame that there are no labels under the pictures. To answer your questions, that’s a milk bottle, a movie theater ticket and a can of condensed milk. For the bonus points, it’s a container with tooth powder under the pencil sharpener.

    • May I have a little addition? On the first picture you see a calculator “Elektronika”. I heard a story about a Soviet guy who went as a tourist to Japan in the late 80-s. In one Japan shop he took out the last model of “Elektronika” calculator to convert Japan prices to roubles and compare Japan prices with Soviet prices. When the owner of the shop saw “Elektronika” calculator in customer’s hand he immediately offered to buy it for a great amount of money, because he thought that this calculator was a rarity from 50-s or 60-s!
      Actually I used “Elektronika” calculator few years ago, it works quite good, but the design is very unusual.
      On the picture that forego a bugle (a trumpet) with a red flag you see a vacuum cleaner “Buran” (Russian for “Snowstorm”). I still have a cleaner of this kind at my job (produced in early 90-s), I use it for cleaning the computers from dust, it produces very loud noice!

      • Those calculators look very interesting, especially the graphing ones. I saw a picture of one with a newspaper-size schematic with oscilloscope readings!!! Would anyone here be willing to spend hours repairing a whole calculator with microchips using an oscilloscope and logic analyzer? I’ve heard you can run large scientific simulations that would take hours to complete, with realistic programming functions. Not something you would expect on a modern TI-84 plus graphing calculator. One reason I hate the TI version is because of the rounded, multicolored, shiny “eye-candy” that makes it look more like a child’s toy than a programmable scientific calculator. Although obviously the CPU is more powerful, it lacks realistic commands for physics\biological research.

    • actually, if you can read the cyrillic alphabet (even not knowing how to speak Russian), you can figure out many of the things– the big perfume bottle says “odekolon” or “eau de cologne” for example, and the movie ticket says the show is for “illyuzion” or rather “illusion.”

  2. I think you posted these photos before on this blog, no?

    I am an American, and even I am nostalgic for the old Soviet Union. . . at least then we knew exactly WHERE the enemy was at all times, and even though they were “the enemy” they never attacked us. (And the old Soviet propaganda art was really nice stuff, a unique style that people are still copying today.)

  3. anti-pop, the bottle was for milk. The ticket is from a movie theater “illusion”. The can contained something called concentrated sterilized milk.

  4. If you do another post like this, please see if you can find a better picture of those pyramid-shaped milk cartons shown in an earlier post. I think it’s funny that different places have very different forms for delivering the same product. In the US, a paper carton on plastic bottle would be normal for a single serving of milk. In some places, a laminated box would be typical, or even a bag.

    And hats off to the poor guy who’s working on his car. He had everything scattered around the car, and even apparently kept a chair in there to rest during breakdowns. That’s being prepared.

  5. Very interesting comments indeed,thank you for this.
    Yes,the soviet design was really unique and everybody will recognize it immediately.

  6. Just for the record, b&w tvs were still available new in the US into the late 90’s. There was very little demand though since small color tv’s were comming down in price. There were only 12″ and smaller ones which ppl mostly bought for their kids bedrooms. I think tubes finally stopped being used in tvs in the 80’s. There are still high end audio amplifiers that use tubes though, supposedly the have better sound or something.

  7. Here are the terms for the “Free” iphone.

    To receive the incentive gift you must; 1) Register with valid information; 2) Complete the user survey; 3) Complete at least 2 Silver, 2 Gold and 6 Platinum offers; and 4) Refer 2 unique households that also must complete these requirements. Purchase may be required. Please read Terms and Conditions for details. Upon completion of all requirements, we will ship the gift to you with free shipping.

    It says purchase may be required. That means purchase IS required and thats not free.

    Caveat Emptor

    • This site has grown more popular, thus the admin(s) decided to put ads on it. It’s part of the development cycle of any site-first it’s ad-free to attract users, then gradually increases the amount of ads so that users could absorb them. They already know how great the site is and would still visit it despite the ads. The opposite is true to a new user-they might dislike the site initially because of ads.

      Long story short, this site is becoming more popular, and evolving. Soon it will be similar to http://www.digg.com.

  8. pencil sharpener is very cool,bw tvs are/were avail in very tiny sizes,i have a camping tv/radio/light by coleman which is only a year old,here in the usa,screen about 5 inches,12 cm

  9. http://kolob.amerikos.ru/retro_ussr/8.jpg
    OMG! I can’t believe it, I actually recognize this thing. My grandma used to have one of those and I remember playing with that toy for hours! That car has magnet under it and it stays in one place while the disk thing moves around, its pretty easy once you get the hang of it. Ahh, it brings so many memories, kind of makes me want to go back

  10. Exactly! I reconized that very same thing. Brought back a lot of very foggy memories. That was a fun little toy.

    It broke pretty fast, though… or the batteries ran out… whatever. I just remember that one day it wouldn’t “do it” anymore and I had to manually move it…

  11. Just a few notes.

    The blue can with orange cartoon characters is a can of small multicolored fruit-drops, the inscription on it says “lemon and orange segments” (but there were different tastes as well). The characters on the can are from Janny Rodary’s (italian author) tale about Chipollino, a guy with onion head. It was very popular among Soviet kids.

    The red spherical doll is a Never Fall Doll for todlers or young kids. It’s always stays vertical, when a kid tries to lay it down it restores it’s balance the same moment.

    The big box of matches has a movie advertising on it (“film by Sergey Soloviev – ‘Black rose is a symbol of sorrow, red rose is a symbol of love'”).

    The blue plastic disk is a chip alternative to vinil records (which were also available). These blue disks often were used as addition to kid’s, musical or other magazines the way the tapes or cd’s are now added.

    And the last but not the list, ha-ha. I had almost the same truck! It was made from steel, huge (almost to my knee) and heavy. My mom hated it cause we didn’t have a lot of free space in our small room, and it didn’t fit anywhere. She tried on numerious occasions to throw it out, but somebody always brought it back. “Hey, it’s your kid’s truck, isn’t it? You probably lost it”. 🙂 Yeah… It was unbreakable thing.

  12. http://kolob.amerikos.ru/retro_ussr/19.jpg
    Note the “monetnitsa” – coin holder, these were widely used by mostly men, to store coins of different values. It was always fun to click out coins out of it!

  13. Wow. I was born in 1990 and even I remember a lot of this stuff. The calculator was the most interesting. I’m using a TI-89 right now and I love it, it’s the love of my life. I’m bringing it back to my dad to Russia this summer. Do we have graphing calculators in Russia? I’ve never seen them there, but then again, I didn’t really have a use for them at that point. I think I was in Algebra when I left. I would love to see a Russian graphing calculator.
    The vacuum cleaner is a classic too. I remember my grandma used to have that one.
    I see the chewing gum and I remember my dad telling me it was very hard to come by. Is that true? He told me about how he and his friends would chew week-old gum just to look cool. They would dip it in sugar and eat candy with it to make it taste good. Sometimes they would just chew on plastic to look like they’re chewing gum. I thought that was funny. I don’t like gum, but gum dipped in sugar sounds especially unappealing.

    This website is awesome!

  14. hahahaha

    The “triple cologne” is the favoite of alcoholics who drink it when the vodka runs out. The wife says drunks would go around smelling like the cologne.

    The wife still has one of those bobble dolls in the garage.

    Thanks for that post. Very entertaining for said wifey.



  15. the “never fall doll” takes a bit of translation to english.

    the russians have a word which means “to lay around / lazy”

    The doll is a “never lay around” doll

    The doll never lays around, but like a good little worker always pops back up ’cause it has a weight on the bottom. It makes a garish noise too!


Leave a Comment