Relay Computer RVM-1


One of the most perfect purely relay computers was the machine RVM-1, designed and constructed under the direction of the Soviet engineer I.I. Bessonov in the middle of 50-ies (it was finished completed in 1957; the beginning of construction refers to 1954).

Nikolay Ivanovich Bessonov (1906 — 1963 γγ.) began his enginering activities as an  expert in calculating machines,  separate units and principles of  operation of the catter  by him in his RVM-1. The latter was the only completely relay machine working in the binary system and with representation of a number   the floating form. For a mantissa there were was allocated 27, and for the order — 6 bits.

Due to the application of the cascade principle of execution of arithmetic operations invented by Bessonov hiniselt he managed  to raise appreciablly the speed of the machine: RVM-1 executed up to 1250 multiplyings per minute, that is more than 20 per  second. The machine contained 5500 relays. A lot of technical improvements increased its reliability and operation qualities somush, that it worked till 1965, competing with already operating electronic computers in those tasks, where the volume of calculations was 2-10 5 — 2-10 6 arithmetic operations per a task.

In the machine there were widely used sample of the function on argument from static memory and special auxiliary devices and commands. It allowed   to reduce number of operations several times when calculating  elementary functions, translating of numbers from the decimal system to the  binary and back and so on.

Especially convenient there was the use of RVM-1 in the tasks of economic character, where the processing of great arrays of  information (input from punched cards) with rather small number of monotonous operations above each separate number was required. Due to this the accounts of the prices on the new system of princing were executed on RVM-1 in 1961 — 1962.

Further works of N.I. Bessonov were directed to the opplication use of the improvements, invented by him, in electronic computers. Here he reached essential results. Unfortunately, the premature death from a heart attack prevented him from completing the peans conceived.

Summing up, it is possible to try and find the place of relay machines in the history of computer facilities.

The relay computers had low speed of execution of arithmetic operations and low reliability. It was explained first of all by low speed and small reliability of electromechanical relays — main calculating and storing elements of the machine; according to the structure and the way of automatic control of a sequence of operations these machines repeated Babbage analytical machine. They had the same disadvantage: absence of the program, stored in memory.

Nevertheless  relay machines took rather on honourable place in the history as by first operating automatic, program - controlled, universal computers.

Literature: R.S.Guter, Ju.L. Polunov. From abacus up to the computer. M.:, Znanie, 1975