The State Polytechnic Museum is located in the territory of the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute and was opened for the 100th anniversary of the institute establishment in 1998. The museum collection consists of ten thousand different exhibits and covers various fields of Ukrainian and world science and technology.

ForUm asked what inquisitive visitor has to see and find out here.

You may need a lot of time to get around the seven museum rooms, including the department of "History of Aviation and Cosmonautics", but the expositions are worth it. We started with the topic of computer science.

This month exhibition is dedicated to the 90th anniversary of birth of the famous Ukrainian mathematician, pioneer of domestic cybernetics Viktor Hlushkov. His daughter Vira Hlushkova kindly agreed to tell us not only about the exhibition, but also about the scientist himself.

Future cybernetics genius was born in the city of Rostov region and moved to Kyiv in 1956. From Vira Hlushkova we learned that her father's devotion to science was greatly influenced by his grandfather, who was a mining engineer. When Hlushkov was a kid, along with his grandfather, they assembled an electron gun and a TV receiver. Little Viktor loved to learn. In the exhibition you can see his honors high school diploma. By the end of school, the future academician, with the help of his father, did the whole university course. Then he parallely studied in two universities – the Novocherkassk Industrial Institute and the Rostov University.

"In the Rostov University he took exams without attending classes. When he arrived he had no place to live, so he slept in a landfill in the open air, and caught teachers in the corridors. He passed astronomy in a line for bread, drawing the sky map on the professor’s back," Vira Hlushkova laughs.
Scientist retained incredible memory and ability to self-organize for life. He developed his own individual methods of memory training, through which he could accurately memorize 20 pages of mathematical text. 

The exhibition presents a sign, which hung at the head of his bed, reading the IBM slogan “Think!”, which Hlushkov visited in 1959, and papers with notes, translated from foreign languages. Vira recalls that her father could not live without work, so even when lying in bed with a fever, he still found some occupation, for example memorized foreign words with the help of a wooden box with cards.

"He could not live without work. Sometimes he read lectures in four cities in one day. He was an awesome lecturer. People fled to his lectures at a breakneck pace and were sitting in the passages. He presented material in a very clear and simple manner".

Throughout his life Hlushkov wrote 800 works, including 500 without co-authors. In addition, he held more than 60 positions, in which he carried out a real job.

God protected the great scientist from trouble – he had not been taken to front because of poor eyesight, and in Donbas he managed to escape from a buried mine. During the occupation, his mother Vira Lvivna, a member of an underground organization, was arrested by the fascists. Good people warned Viktor about that, and he managed to escape. Visitors can see the original certificate that Hlushkov's mother was killed by the Gestapo.

Hlushkov knew many scientists and managers. His notebook, presented at the exhibition, is opened to the page with direct phone of Leonid Brezhnev.

The exhibit also shows a document confirming that the young doctor of science was invited to Kyiv Mathematics Institute under the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR to head the laboratory as the outstanding mathematician algebraist of the twentieth century. This title was awarded to him for the shortest solution of the fifth Hilbert's theorem. Vira Hlushkova told that her father often recalled how he had done that.

"The solution came when he was walking along the Georgian military highway. Dad just looked at a fence, and he got a flash of genius. He said that he has experienced many things in life, love and a great friendship, but this feeling could not be compared to anything else. Many people think that if you study hard, they you will start to make discoveries. However, I believe that my father had such a purpose. He could not live without mathematics, and it was the greatest pleasure for him". 

In 1962, Hlushkov initiated the establishment of the Cybernetics Institute, and became its director. Soon, under his leadership there were designed the first domestic computer "Promin" and a series of machines "MIR", which became the forerunners of personal computers.

In the museum you can see the "Promin" of 1963, MIR-1 and MIR-3, and even listen to a digitized voice of Hlushkov, which tells how to use them. Such rarities have preserved nowhere in the world.

Senior researcher at the museum Olha Shulha tells us that exhibition on information technology development is to be expanded in future. However, today there is a lot to see even today.

For the museum visitors to realize the enormity of technological progress, the examination usually starts with slide rules and adding machines - the prototypes of modern calculators.

The evolution of electronic media.

A similar sequence of development of human ingenuity can be seen in everything.

In the early 1970's, "Karat" computers were designed at the Kyiv factory "Quantum" under the direction of Vilen Plotnikov. They received the most widespread use in the Navy electronic systems. "Karat" is highly reliable and can smoothly run for five years, a record for the then computer industry.

Unfortunately, the very first computer, designed by Serhiy Lebedev, now you can only see on the stand as only the details have left from an electron tube computer. Olha says that works to design MESM (the first universally programmable electronic computer in continental Europe) were conducted under a total news blackout.

"Lebedev set up the laboratory comprising scientists from the Institute of Electrotechnology in Feofaniya. Everything was classified, as there have already appeared the press reports that the Britons invented an ENIAC machine, however no details revealed. The interesting thing is that the ENIAC was designing by 150 people for five years at the request of the military. It was designed to calculate the trajectory of artillery shells. Our computer was designed by 18 people in two years, and it was widely used for peaceful purposes".

In those days Feofaniya was a small two-story mansion. In November 1950, before commissioning the scientists made a trial run of MESM. The machine comprising six thousand vacuum tubes warmed up so that the room temperature rose to 40 degrees, and scientists had to disassemble the ceiling. 

After the launch, according to Olha Shulha, all Ukrainian scientists lined up for doing calculations on the computer. Once, the results of a test ballistics problem of two famous Kyiv mathematicians, Crane and Avramenko, did not coincide with the MESM results, and they decided that the computer broke down. Then Lebedev began to check calculations by himself and in a day of hard work told his colleagues: "Do not torture the computer - it was right. People are wrong!" It turned out that both math mathematicians made the same mistake, and the computer was smarter than humans.

As ForUm found out, a small but very interesting museum exhibit was collected thanks to the support of the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute rector Mykhailo Zhurovsky, findings of the Cybernetics Institute, help of the founder of the Information Technology History Museum Borys Malynovsky, personal belongings and documents of Viktor Hlushkov, handed over by his daughter Vira, as well as due to the personal efforts of staff of the State Polytechnic Museum.

Interesting to know that the Cybernetics Institute also had its own museum. However, with the beginning of the "turbulent 1990s", almost all the exhibits disappeared. The memorial study of Viktor Hlushkov was to be closed. Only 90th anniversary of birth of academician, celebrated this year, saved it...

To be continued ...

Anastasia Pika


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