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Aleksanteri Conference







Dittmann, Frank:

The first computer communication network between East and West 

In July 1977 an experimental computer communication network between four countries had been organized. During three weeks scientists of Austria, Poland, USSR, and USA could communicate electronically across the Iron Curtain. Today this fact leads to several questions, e.g.: Who are the protagonists behind this experiment? Whey it happed during the Cold War? Which technology had been involved?
A key role played the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis near Vienna. IIASA was founded 1972 as an international institution where teams with scientists from different countries could work together on vital problems of the mankind in spite of their political and ideological differences. The man behind the experiment was Gennadij Dobrov, a Soviet scientist known for his research on history and philosophy of science. He tried to support the idea of international teams by recent technology. A computer network should help to avoid a lot of administrative problems which appeared in the case of traveling scientists through the Iron Curtain.
Additionally, the experiment shows evidentially that computer in East and West could work together in a network – and this although the origin of computer network technology are applications for military purposes. An important reason might be that since the 1970s most of the computers produced in COMECON based on Western technology or were even clones of it. Additionally scientists for East and West had contacts at the whole time and knew what happened on the other side of the Iron Curtain.

Friday 30 Oct 16.15-18.15 SESSION 6
Panel: Transferring Technology