The unified computer system

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The most popular Hungarian minicomputer: Videoton R-10 (catalogue)

In 1968 the Soviet Union’s Premiere, Aleksey Nikolayevich Kosigin (1904-1980), sent a letter to the leaders of the socialist countries proposing a new collaboration system.

At the suggestion of Kosigin, the European COMECON-countries agreed to develop a conjoined computer family. They created a joint schedule for developing products in what was called the Unified Computer System (Единая Cистема/Edinaya sistema or EC), as well as an Intergovernmental Committee of Computer Technology to control the tasks.

One advantage of the Unified System was that it would put an end to the total chaos of the different state-funded programmes. It became possible for hardware-and software products made by different manufacturers to be used outside the borders of the given country as well. The main goal was to cut back the time-lag in development compared to Western countries.

The model was in the IBM Company 360 family. The Soviet Union had always demanded a leading and controlling role in the Unified System right from the very beginning. The Union wanted to produce the most powerful products of military significance. There was an important production of magnetic data storage devices in Bulgaria under the brand name IZOT, while the other Eastern countries took their significant parts within the Unified System.

In Hungary the manufacturers VIDEOTON (Székesfehérvár) had a primarily military profile, but also gained experience in producing consumer electronics. It was this company that undertook most computer production and produced display terminals, printers, other components and full computers in the settings of the Unified System.

How to cite this page


Gábor Képes, 'The unified computer system', Inventing Europe,


  1. Helena Durnova, "The 'Unified System' of Electronic Computers: IBM's Inadverted Invasion of Central and Eastern Europe." Europe, Interrupted.
  2. Gerlai, Mátyás. Videoton számítástechnikai gyártás 1970-1990. NJSZT ITF, December 13, 2011. Accessed July 1, 2012.
  3. Németh, Pál. “Nagy projektek és szervezeti változások az Szki-ban.” In Volt egyszer egy Szki…, edited by Bálint Dömölki et al a.o, 52-84. Budapest: NJSZT ITF (Ervin Kovács), 2011.
  4. Raffai, Mária. A hazai számítástechnika története, 33-38. Alexander Alapítvány, 2005.

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Computers behind the 'Iron Curtain'

After the 1956 Revolution in the People's Republic of Hungary, Stalinist dictatorship was followed by a society that was ready to open towards the West. For this reason Hungary was sometimes called the "happiest barracks of the Soviet camp". Hungarian computer technology was both connected to the initiatives of the Eastern bloc countries, and also hurriedly following the West at the same time. By 1989 there were hundreds of thousands of computers in the country, and its computer technology was typically colourful and full of unique compromises between East and West.

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IBM, setting a standard

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