Computers - Deception by Control Data Corporation

"We have offered to the Socialist countries only standard commercial computers and these offerings have been in full compliance with the export control and administrative directives of the Department of Commerce." — William C. Norris, Chairman Control Data Corporation

To make any progress in developing weapons systems the Soviets must utilize modern high-speed computers. The computers and the necessary computer technology, both hardware and software, have come from the West, almost exclusively from the United States.

At the end of the 1950s the United States had about 5,000 computers in use, while the Soviet Union had only about 120. These Soviet computers, as reported by well-qualified observers, were technically well behind those of the West and barely out of the first-generation stage even as late as the 1960s.

In the late fifties the Soviets produced about thirty to forty BESM-type computers for research and development work on atomic energy and rockets and missiles. In general, the BESM type has most of the features typical of early U.S. computers. The original version had 7,000 tubes; the later version had 3,000 tubes and germanium diodes.

The only Soviet computer in continuous production in the 1960s was the URAL-I, followed by the URAL-II and URAL-IV modifications of the original model. The URAL-I has an average speed of 100 operations per second, compared to 2,500 operations per second on U.S. World War II machines and 15,000 operations per second for large U.S. machines of the 1950s, and 1-10 million operations per second common in the early 1970s. Occupying 40 square meters of floor space, URAL-I contains 800 tubes and 3,000 germanium diodes; its storage units include a magnetic drum of 1,024 cells and a magnetic tape of up to 40,000 cells — considerably less than U.S. machines of the 1960s. URAL-II and URAL-IV incorporate slightly improved characteristics. The URAL series is based on U.S. technology.

Production methods for both the URAL and the BESM computers were the same as American methods.

Until the mid-1960s direct import of computers from the United States was heavily restricted by export control regulations. In 1965 only $5,000 worth of electronic computers and parts were shipped from the United States to the Soviet Union, and only $2,000 worth in 1966. This changed in 1967. Computer exports increased to $1,079,000 and a higher rate of export of U.S. electronic computers to the USSR has been maintained to the present time under constant lobbying pressure from U.S. businessmen and their trade associations.

The precise amount and nature of U.S. computer sales to the Soviet Union since World War II is censored, but it is known that after World War II, IBM sales to the Communist world came "almost entirely from [IBM's] Western European plants," partly because of U.S. export control restrictions and partly because U.S. equipment operates on 60 cycles, whereas Russian and European equipment operates on 50 cycles.

American computer sales as opposed to Soviet theft may be traced from 1959 with sale of a Model-802 National-Elliott sold by Elliott Automation, Ltd., of the United Kingdom. (Elliott Automation is a subsidiary of General Electric in the United States.) Towards the end of the sixties Soviet purchases of computers were stepped up, and by late i969 it was estimated that Western computer sales to all of Communist Europe, including the USSR, were running at $40 million annually, in great part from European subsidiaries of American companies. In 1964-65 Elliott Automation delia ;red five Model-503 computers to the USSR, including one for installation in the Moscow Academy of Sciences. Other General Electric made in Europe machines, for example, a Model-400 made in France by Compagnie des Machines Bull, were also sold to the USSR.

Olivetti-General Electric of Milan, Italy has been a major supplier of GE computers in the USSR. In I967 the Olivetti firm delivered $2.4 million worth of data-processing equipment systems to the USSR in addition to Model-400 and Model-115 machines.

In sum, General Electric from 1959 onwards sold to the Soviet Union through its European subsidiaries a range of its medium-capacity computers.

Of perhaps even greater significance for the 1960 era were sales by English Electric, which include third-generation microcircuit computers utilizing Radio Corporation of America technology. In 1967 English Electric sold to the USSR its System Four machine with microcircuits; this machine incorporates RCA patent and was similar to the RCA Spectra-70 series.

The largest single supplier of computers to the USSR has been International Computers and Tabulation, Ltd. of the United Kingdom, which also licenses RCA technology, and by 1970 had supplied at least twenty-seven of the thirty-three large computers then in Russia. In November I969, for example, five of the firm's 1900-series computers (valued at $12 million) went to the USSR. These large high-speed units with integrated circuits were, without question, considerably in advance of anything the Soviets were able to manufacture. Such machines were certainly capable of solving military and space problems. Indeed, a computer cannot distinguish between civilian and military problems.

In 1971 the USSR and East European family of general purpose computers known as the RYAD series was announced. These are based substantially on IBM 360 and 370 computers illegally diverted into the USSR. This had an important effect of making available to them a tremendous library of computer software that was RYAD compatible.

Dr. Baker has commented on the current RYAD position:

In the area of available manpower, one of the serious problems afflicting the Soviet economy is the lack of qualified, highly trained, technical people in the areas of computers and microelectronics. One cause of this is the lack of enough computing and electronic equipment to train the next generation of scientists and engineers. They simply don't have enough equipment to allow students sufficient 'hands-on' practice at an early stage in their education. The Soviets are trying to alleviate this problem by producing large, for them, numbers of RYAD computers — copies of the U.S. IBM System 360's and 370's.17

Soviet Agatha - American Apple II

In mid 1983 the Soviets introduced their first personal computer —the AGATHA (a rather curious name for a Russian product).

Produced at Zelenograd, outside Moscow, the Agatha was reversed engineered from the APPLE II. Specifications are similar to the APPLE and the components are either Soviet produced from reverse engineered U.S. components or imported and bought openly or clandestinely in Europe or Japan.

Officials at the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences have admitted that the APPLE II served as a "prototype" for the Soviet Agatha.

In 1985 COCOM set up some new rules for microcomputers and made it legal to export without license low powered 8-bit computers. Such a machine sells in the West for $100 to $500.

The response was a flood of computer manufacturers attempting to make elaborate sales pitches to the multimillion Soviet microcomputer market. If history is any judge, the Soviets will buy a few thousand and then attempt to reverse engineer and produce in the Soviet Union. Presumably the microcomputers, although low powered, could have military applications and indeed this was openly admitted by a major computer manufacturer (New York Times, February 8, 1985):

"We have no illusions. Some of these are headed for the military."

Military End Use

Confirmation of military end use comes from unimpeachable sources — Soviet engineers who have worked on copying or reverse engineering in the Soviet Union and later defected to the West. These engineers have testified before Congress and provide firsthand evidence of Soviet military use of our technology. Here is a statement from Joseph Arkov, who graduated from a Soviet engineering school in 1970 and who now resides in the United States. Arkov worked in Soviet research installations.

If, for example, a new American computer has been obtained by the Soviets, they will make a military application of it rather than a civilian application,"18 and

In my work in the second research installation I had the assignment of copying Western and Japanese high technology.

Arkov makes the interesting point that the Soviets are now so far behind technologically that they can no longer just reverse engineer as previously — they must import even the technology to manufacture high technology:

They do not have the human resources or the fine tuned equipment required to produce the high technology machinery they try to copy. Once they know what makes a given piece of machinery work, they find that they do not have the technical know-how and equipment to produce the product themselves. That is why they want Western high technology machines that will enable them to produce the products. And the Western products they desire the most are those produced in the United States. That is why they want American high technology machines with which they can produce the components for high technology products.

Under Senate questioning Arkov confirmed that the major application of our high technology is for military end uses.

Mr. Arkov: Well, the task of copying Western technology . . . part of their assignment was for military. Is that the question?

Senator Rudman: Yes, let me just follow that up. You spoke in your prepared statement about the use of sophisticated American computers in various Soviet military operations, and also about the use of semiconductor technology. There are those in this country who feel that had we not transferred that technology legally to the Soviet Union — we sold them certain semiconductor technology and certain sophisticated computer technology in the late sixties and early seventies — the Soviets would not have achieved the advantages in missilery which they have made in terms of the enormous throw weight and precision of their guidance systems. Do you agree with that assessment? Do you think that the sale of those semiconductors and those computers has given them a tremendous step forward in their technology in the defense area from your background and your knowledge?

Mr. Arkov: Yes, I think so. I can't tell exactly. It's hard to estimate the degree of advantage they got. But they gained there, using American computers and American semiconductors.19

Control Data Deception

The 1973 Control Data Corporation technical assistance agreement with the Soviet Union enabled the Soviets to complete phase one of their semiconductor manufacturing plant (see Chapter Four).

Highly significant is a comparison of Control Data Corporation's public argument to the media and Congress with this 1973 agreement and its totally one-sided presentation of the national security argument.

One can only conclude that some CDC statements are deliberate untruths. We make this statement by comparing Control Data public statements, particularly those of Chairman William Norris, with internal documents and agreements with the Soviet Union. These documents are confidential, but copies are in our possession.

On December 19, 1973 William Norris wrote Congressman Richard T. Hanna concerning public criticism of the CDC proposal to export advanced Cyber computers to the USSR.

We extract some statements from the letter (reproduced in full as Appendix C) and compare it to extracts from CDC internal documents reproduced on pages 61-67. For example,

Norris: We have offered the Socialist countries only standard commercial computers and these offerings have been in full compliance with the export control and administrative directives of the Department of Commerce.

Comment: Reference to the 1973 Protocol of Intent between CDC and the USSR marked CONFIDENTIAL and reproduced here tells a vastly different story.

Norris: Many persons including some of the witnesses before your Committee mistake the offering for sale of old or even current state of the art hardware for transfer of advanced technology. This is not unusual because in many cases it is difficult for those who are not technically well informed to distinguish advanced computer technology.

Comment: Norris is comparing apples and oranges. What is "old" or "current" in the United States is far beyond "state of the art" in the Soviet Union. When Norris was offering a million operations per second CYBER computer to the Soviets, the run-of-the-mill Soviet technology was in the order of several thousands of operations per second, and that was on copies of imported equipment.

If multinational businessmen like William Norris were honestly mistaken in their information or somewhat shaky in their logic, then perhaps they could be forgiven. After all, to err is human.

Unfortunately, evidence proves beyond doubt that at least some of these deaf mute businessmen have deceived both Congress and the American public in an unseemly haste to make a buck.

We have documentary evidence in the case of Control Data Corporation and its Chairman, William Norris.

In the following pages we print a series of letters from Control Data Corporation to a concerned member of the public and contracts betweeen CDC and the Soviet Union:

* Exhibit A
Letter from American Council for World Freedom to its supporters identifying William Norris and CDC as exporters of valuable military technology to the Soviets.

* Exhibit B
Reply from William Norris, "Dear Yellow Card Sender," dated May 5, 1978. Note in particular the paragraph, "While we did sign an agreement for technological cooperation with the Soviet Union, we have not transferred any computer technology to them."

* Exhibit C
Full text of cooperation agreement cited by William Norris in Exhibit B.

* Exhibit D
"Letter (Protocol) of Intent" not mentioned by William Norris in Exhibit B, but which includes precise details of technology to be transferred, in distinct contrast to the Norris claim, "We have not transferred any computer technology to them."

Most importantly, it will be seen that Control Data Corporation transferred a vast range of information and technology to the Soviets, not only on computers but on manufacturing.


Publisher's Note: At this point the original manuscript contained actual photo copies of documents. Due to the quality of the copies, the documents were also reset in full and placed in Appendix D of the original manuscript.

Due to the difficulty of reproducing the documents in an efficient manner, we will refer anyone wishing to read the documents to Appendix D.

The Deceptive World View of Control Data Corporation

William Norris, Chairman of Control Data, has a lively correspondence with Americans anxious to learn his rationale for supporting the Soviet Union.

We quote below an extract from a letter written by William Norris to an inquirer:

You also made reference [wrote Norris] in your letter to Russia's first democratic government that was overthrown by the communists. You are incorrect on this point. There never has been any democracy in Russia — as a matter of fact, the Russian standard of living today is higher than it was under the tsars. Further, you don't find a great deal of unhappiness in the Soviet Union over living conditions and the communist regime for two reasons — (1) they have never know [sic] what democracy is, and (2) life is better than it used to be.

Here are the errors in the above Norris paragraph:

William Norris only sees what he wants to see, hears what he wants to hear, and presumably speaks from these limited impressions of the world.

In conclusion, we can thank Mr. Norris and Control Data Corporation that Soviet military has been able to break into the electronics based warfare of the late 20th and early 21st century.

CDC fulfilled phase one of the Soviet program for acquisition of Western semiconductor technology and mass production facilities.



17United States Senate, Transfer of United States High Technology to the Soviet Union and Soviet Bloc Nations Hearings before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, 97th Congress Second Session, May 1982, Washington, D.C., p. 61.

18United States Senate, Transfer of United States High Technology to the Soviet Union and Soviet Bloc Nations Hearings before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, 97th Congress Second Session, May 1982, Washington, D.C., p. 27 19 Ibid.