How a pair of American spies created the Soviet Silicon Valley
Espionage, affairs and PCs: Ahh, Zelenograd
Radio Reg Few stories in computing history come close to matching the tale of Zelenograd – the Soviet Union's attempt at creating something along the lines of Silicon Valley.
Episode 15 of Semi-Coherent Computing recounts the tale of Zelenograd's founding along with the stories of the two US-born Russian spies behind the city. No one knows this history better than Steven Usdin, the author of Engineering Communism: How Two Americans Spied for Stalin and Founded the Soviet Silicon Valley, who was kind enough to appear on the show. (You'll find Usdin's web site here and can buy the book on Amazon or from Yale Press here.)
I first saw Usdin talk about Zelenograd at a Computer History Museum event and was beyond enthralled by the story. It involves two US communist engineers who worked on top secret projects for US military contractors during World War II and funneled their technology secrets over to the Soviets. Eventually, these lads made their way to the Soviet Union where they started work on, among other things, the first Soviet made PC and even a desktop fab for producing chips.
Along the way, the spies tear apart families and then reunite them. They enjoy Khrushchev's blessing and then struggle to deal with Brezhnev's fury. They make a mockery of the FBI and parts of the Soviet way of life.
This show is just the first part of my interview with Usdin. We'll be running the second part next week.
Sincere apologies to everyone for being so slack getting up a fresh program. I vow to be more consistent in the months ahead.
Thanks for your ears. ®
The American tanks "lent-leased" to Britain were so hopelessly outclassed by the German tanks that they were virtually death traps. However, the American, in their arrogance ignored the British requests for up-gunned and up-armoured tanks and went to war with the same models.
During the American landings in North Africa, the Afrika Korp shot up so many American tanks that there were wild exaggerations of the German strength to "explain" away their failure. The Americans were only saved by their possession of masses of artillery !! German tanks used to sit out of range of the American tanks and pot them one by one while the American tank ammo would bounce off the German tanks like peas !! The Grant and Sherman tanks could barely match the Panzer III which were already obsolete. They were out-classed by the Panzer !V which were being phased out and they were hopelessly out-classed by the Panther just coming into operation by then !!
The good thing from the Lend-Lease were the destroyers used in the Atlantic convoy battles !! Those were desperately needed and they did a sterling job fighting the U-boats !!
And, *NO*, U-571 did *NOT* capture the enigma machine that broke the German codes, no matter what Hollywood says !! Those codes were broken at Bletchley Park using a very early form of computing (IT angle !!) .
Fascinating episode, probably the best yet. Gimme part 2!
Very interesting stuff!
but in future you need to drop the BG music down by 3dB at least, its too loud.