December 27, 1965 Electronics
[Table of Contents]
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics.
See articles from Electronics,
published 1930 - 1988. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.
This is the electronics market
prediction for Russia, circa 1966. It was part of a comprehensive assessment by the editors
of Electronics magazine of the state of commercial, military, and consumer electronics
at the end of 1965. Then, as now, Russian electronics products are not considered to
be serious competition to U.S. markets. For that matter, when is the last product of
any type you bought with a "Made in Russia" stamp on it? Even though the Soviet
fell in 1992, very little progress has been made with mending fences with them. Unless
you can find a news story on the state of the industry, detailed reports must be purchased
from research companies like
Statista. Their website has a lot of charts on Russia's current electronics
market showing revenue in the consumer electronics segment amounts of US$2,942M in 2018.
Separate reports are included for
(the Berlin Wall was still up then), the
obviously not part of Europe, is also covered.
No threat seen to West in sale of electronics
The Soviet consumer electronics industry is far from primitive; however, for the foreseeable
future the Soviets will offer no competition to Western producers. In fact, Russians
will remain hungry, even starved, for Western imports.
This is the image emerging through the static of military secrecy and statistical
reports in which electronics is not treated as an industry at all.
Recently, a Soviet official, asked if there was any computer larger or faster than
the Minsk-22, then on display at an international showing, replied:
"Yes, but they're beyond the Urals." That's Russian slang for "military secret."
And in the USSR's annual book of vital statistics, running to more than 700 pages,
nowhere is there to be found a figure relating to electronics in any useful way. Electronics
production figures are wrapped up heavily in the military budget, which in turn is hidden
behind headings such as "machine building" or "gross chemical output." (In fact, the
old Ministry of Medium Machine Building was a code cover for the Soviet nuclear weapons
Space program opened the door
It was the Soviet space program that released some facts on the country's electronics
industry. Manned sputniks, moon shots, and deep-space probes told much that was new.
It's been demonstrated that the Soviets no longer are counting on the cushion that
large booster rockets gave them in the early days of space exploration. The move is clearly
toward denser electronic packages, though not necessarily toward American-style microminiaturization.
The Soviets, apparently, will always favor the big power pack.
This year the Russians brought back 1,100-line pictures of the far side of the moon
from a distance of several hundred thousand miles. Earlier they orbited a communications
satellite with 40 watts of power, or ten times that of Early Bird. They claim they'll
be able, shortly, to broadcast directly from an orbiting satellite into community television
And they've announced their soft-landing Luna package which contains radar plus a
computer complex to measure distance to target, compute optimum time for retro-fire,
and give the firing order.
Increasing complexity of the Soviet space effort indicates substantial solid state
computing power on the ground, though it is apparent that none of this hardware has become
available to the civilian industry.
The Russians continue to claim superiority in computers, but they make no secret of
their desire to buy Western models. Recently a group of visiting American businessmen
were asked to evaluate the possibility of holding an American computer and industrial
electronics exhibition in Moscow. British companies, led by Elliott-Automation, have
been selling industrial-process computers and instrumentation to the Soviets for several
years, and the general belief is that relaxation of controls by the West would lead to
a flood of such sales.
Meanwhile, the Russians are showing signs of putting heftier budget sums into civilian
electronics research. Last summer Moscow sponsored a month-long exhibit of Soviet and
East European informa-tion equipment at which it was learned that prog-ress has been
substantial. The Soviets are now working hard to develop a common computer language and
common components standards for Eastern Europe, and within a few years they may achieve
In their civilian applications the Russians have now reached the point of full transistorization
with modular sections, but they have yet to apply molecular or integrated circuitry.
They appear to be about one generation short of Western achievements. They've developed
random-access retrieval systems along the lines of American devices of 1959 and 1960.
On the purely consumer electronics front, progress has been much swifter, relatively.
Within the past 12 months the Soviets have put transistor radios, modern-styled television
sets, and portable phonographs on the market. Now they've agreed to use the French Secam
color-television system, with "commercial" broadcasts scheduled in 1967.
Radio and phonograph production actually declined between 1963 and 1964, from 4,800,000
to 4,750,000. Television-set production inched up from 2,470,000 to 2,920,000.
The production for 1965 increased slightly. For the first three quarters, tv set production
was up 22% and radio and phonograph production up 7% according to official statistics.
The Russians don't import any consumer electronics, and have no plans to do so.
Electronics export figures show that the Russians are caught up in worldwide price
trends. Exports of 72,400 radios in 1963 were valued at just over $3 million, or $40
each. But last year 111,300 radios exported cost an average of only $20 each, for a net
decline in foreign exchange of about $800,000 - on nearly 60% volume increase.
Reprints of this report are available. Use the reader service card at the back of
© copyright 1965, Electronics ® A McGraw-Hill Publication