Larionov Alexander Maximovich
Edition, extension and translation: Alexander Nitusov
Alexander Maximovich Larionov was born on the 1 st of August 1928 in village Studenets of Ryasan? region, into a peasant family. In the beginning of the 1930-s the family moved to Moscow. In February 1951 Alexander graduated from the Moscow Power-Engineering Institute (MPEI) and received diploma of engineer with specialisation “Electromechanical Instrumentation”. As a young specialist he received position at the famous Special Design Bureau (SDB-245) of Moscow.
Larionov Alexander Maksimovich
At that time SDB-245 launched development of a new computer STRELA (arrow) — the USSR first computer to be put into serial production. Larionov joined the laboratory, which was designing central control unit (CPU) for the computer. Soon his qualification level and obvious organisational talents were noted and appreciated by both colleagues and the administration. However, in May 1951 Larionov was called to military service. Being a big university MPEI has got its own department of military education, what means that its (male) students receive(ed) the first officer rank as “supplement” to their diplomas and engineering qualification and therefore should not serve in army after graduation. Nevertheless, some young engineers were sometimes mobilised, normally for two years. It depended on the army?s own need in technical specialists. Besides, one shouldn?t forget the tension of the cold-war period.
In February 1953 Larionov was demobilised from army with the rank of the second lieutenant — engineer, four months earlier than common term. Numerous applications of the Ministry of Machinery and Instrumentation to military authorities played their role. In March of the same year Larionov returned to the SDB-245, where he tested and adjusted the same central control unit of STRELA. Very soon he became a leading specialist. When the first computer of STRELA series received approval of the state commission it was handed over to the V.A. Steklov Mathematical Institute of the AS USSR. Larionov followed “his computer” and took part in its operation maintenance and in work of the institute. During the next eight years of his career Larionov received a sequence of positions first as an engineer, then seniour engineer, leading engineer, chief of the laboratory and finally a head of department.
After 1955 his work was basically concentrated on development of digital computer complex for radar information processing and precise targeting of the “ground-to-air” rockets. Two complexes were developed: M-111 (1955-1962) and 5E61 (1961-1964). They both were based on electron valves, but it was the first time when a big amount of planar transistors was also utilised in computer circuitry. Larionov himself took active part in their development. Then he was a deputy of Y.Ya. Basilevskiy (Basilevskiy Yury Yakovlevich). During development of 5E61 Larionov was promoted to its chief designer. From 1961 till 1964 he was a vice director of the Scientific Institute of Electron Machinery (SIEM), where he was responsible for computing complexes.
In 1964 Larionov joined the team, which was developing land-based military computing complex “BETA- 2” and soon after was promoted to its chief designer. Soviet hybrid microcircuits “Posol” were first utilised in that complex. Besides, BETA-2 was provided with a developed set of special peripheral devices.
In 1970 Larionov submitted dissertation thesis mainly based on his experience in methods of maintaining stable performance of the central processor under increased load of peripheral units. He received the first scientific degree “Candidate of technical sciences”.
In 1968 SIEM was given a new task. That time it was a computing complex with increased reliability for control over space objects. It was named MSM and Larionov was appointed its chief designer.
In January 1969 SIEM was integrated into big scientific centre — Scientific-Research Institute of Digital Electronic Computers — SRIDEC  and Larionov was appointed as the head of department for specialised ground-based digital computer complexes. It continued the works on development of BETA-2 and MSM. Larionov designed unified computing complex “RITM- 2” (Rhythm-2) based on microcircuits “Posol”, which actually was a “mix” of the first two, mainly joined for economic reasons.
In October 1969 Larionov was promoted to the SRIDEC vice-director on scientific work — a chief engineer. At the same time he became a deputy of the chief designer of new computer series ES and deputy of the chief designer of special on-board computer series “Argon”. All that drastically changed his interests and duties. Computer series ES was the subject of principal importance for the SIDREC at those times.
In the beginning of April 1970 S.A. Krutovskih (Krutovskikh Sergey Arkadevich) — the SRIDEC director, suddenly grew seriously ill and Larionov was appointed as temporary director. However, in March 1971, he was confirmed in that position and became the SRIDEC director, chief designer of the ES computers and chief designer of the on-board computers “Argon”.
Development of the ES computers was in fact a large-scale international cooperative program, which should last for tens of years (according to its ideology). In reality it lasted about 20 years, integrated research and development efforts of almost ten countries and formed a joined team of more than 300 000 scientists, engineers and technicians. Being one of its leading administrators Larionov actively coordinated common activity of computer enterprises of the socialist countries — the program participants, on joint production of hard- and software of the first stage of the program. He also led development of technical demands and standards for the ES computers, preparing for the second stage.
Simultaneously with running of the ES program he contributed to extension of computer-related education. In addition to the affiliate of the Moscow Aviation Institute, which already existed at the SIEM, he established a new (basic) chair of the SRIDEC at the Moscow Institute of Radio, Electronics and Automatics (MIREA). In 1975 he successfully submitted dissertation thesis and was awarded doctor?s degree. In 1976 he was promoted to a Docent position (near analogue to Associated Professor).
In December 1977 an attack of kidney decease forced Larionov to give up exhausting administrative duties and concentrate on university lecturing. Since then he only held a chair of computer sciences at the MIREA, until 1995. In 1979 he was awarded full professorship there. His chair was, and still is, the leading one at speciality, “Computing Machinery, Complexes, Systems and Networks”.
Larionov authored more than sixty scientific publications, for example notable, “Electronic Computing Machine ES- 1050” (1976) or, “Input-Output channels of electronic computer ES- 1020” (1975) — the first Soviet source that analysed input-output channels as specific type of devices for computers of the third generation and also A.M. Larionov (et al.), “Peripheral devices of computing Systems” (1991), etc. He also published many scientific and didactic articles for university.
In 1971 he was decorated with order “Red Banner of Labour” and in 1977 with the “Lenin Order”. A.M. Larionov died in 1995 of long-lasting kidney decease.
- “Virtual Computer Museum”: Russian biography of A.M. Larionov