A Short History of Romanian Computing: From 1961 to 1989

The “Politehni­ca” Uni­ver­si­ty of Timisoara, Roma­nia, an engi­neer­ing school estab­lished in 1920, takes its mot­to from Fer­di­nand I: “It’s not the walls that make a school, but the spir­it liv­ing inside.” While the walls of “Politehni­ca” are as state­ly as any­one could ask for, what’s inside, accord­ing to the short doc­u­men­tary above, is also pret­ty spiffy—the spir­it of com­put­ing his­to­ry, Roman­ian style. With a score that sounds a lit­tle like an out­take from Logan’s Run, this video gives us a tour of the university’s Muse­um of Infor­ma­tion Tech­nol­o­gy and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, opened Novem­ber 16, 2001.

We meet a num­ber of ancient machines, many of which were respon­si­ble for design­ing build­ings and hydro­elec­tric dams and some of which still func­tion. There’s the Mecipt 1, a mas­sive 1961 main­frame sys­tem cov­ered in dials, switch­es, and rout­ing sys­tems and look­ing some­what more indus­tri­al than the machines built by Fairchild and IBM at the same time. Next comes Mecipt 2 in 1963, which was in oper­a­tion for six­teen years and did much of the build­ing design. The micro­com­put­ers TIMS and MS-100 resem­ble the orig­i­nal busi­ness machines made in the six­ties by com­pa­nies like Hewlett-Packard and Data Gen­er­al Corp. Over­all, the short doc takes us through the exper­i­men­tal course of Roman­ian com­put­ing from 1961 to 1989. The read­er who brought this to our atten­tion points out that there’s lit­tle mate­r­i­al out there on Roman­ian com­put­er engi­neer­ing. This short doc offers a rare look at a very lit­tle-known and fas­ci­nat­ing his­to­ry.

h/t Alin

Relat­ed Con­tent:

“They Were There” — Errol Mor­ris Final­ly Directs a Film for IBM

How Film Was Made: A Kodak Nos­tal­gia Moment

Josh Jones is a doc­tor­al can­di­date in Eng­lish at Ford­ham Uni­ver­si­ty and a co-founder and for­mer man­ag­ing edi­tor of Guer­ni­ca / A Mag­a­zine of Arts and Pol­i­tics.

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