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Graphics Censorship Technology Hardware

Soviet Image Editing Tool From 1987 146

Posted by timothy
from the airbrushing-is-so-stalinist-1940s dept.
nacturation writes "Three years before Photoshop 1.0 was released, computer engineers in the USSR were already retouching photographs using some surprisingly advanced technology. A video shows how the Soviets went about restoring damaged images with the help of rotary scanners, magnetic tape, and trackballs. No word on whether this technology was used to fake moon landings or put missiles in Cuba." Photo manipulation in the USSR (and elsewhere) had a pretty good jump on computers, though.
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Soviet Image Editing Tool From 1987

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  • BT, DT (Score:4, Interesting)

    by blair1q (305137) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:35PM (#34127668) Journal

    I'm pretty sure I was cutting and pasting and cropping and rotating images on uVAXen a couple of years before this.

  • by mwvdlee (775178) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @04:01PM (#34128802) Homepage

    Didn't the Russians pretty much steal everything computer-related from the Western countries at that time?

    The most famous software product from Russia, Tetris, was originally developed on a russian-made DEC PDP-11 clone.

    I also remember reading that pretty much all their mainframes were IBM OS-3xx clones.

    I'm sure they had sufficient skilled engineers in Russia to do it themselves, but why pay somebody to invent it, if you don't have to respect copyrights and patents and can just steal it?

  • by toddles666 (814422) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @04:11PM (#34128940)
    "The Commissar Vanishes" is a great book that documents the methods used by the Soviets to modify photos as various people fell out of favor with Stalin:

    http://www.amazon.com/Commissar-Vanishes-Falsification-Photographs-Stalins/dp/B00007D037/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1288900689&sr=8-1 [amazon.com]

    The methods used by the Soviets to manipulate and control the information consumed by the populace is pretty widely understood, and I'm sure that need to maintain control drove the use of this relatively sophisticated photo manipulation software.

  • by tibit (1762298) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @04:59PM (#34129662)

    While the image repainting was slow simply due to memory bandwidths back then, one can't but be amazed at the instantaneous response from the right-hand menu system. It seems like it took one or two vsyncs for the new menu to appear in response to a keystroke. This is something that you still can't get on modern OSes simply because there's always the VM subsystem in the way. On OS X, working normally with few running applications and plenty of memory, I can get 100+ms lag when switching between menus. Sure, the median may be pretty good, but the worst case is annoying. It interferes with the workflow. Never mind the everpresent lag on the workspace of most applications, be it photo editing, spreadsheet, CAD, etc.

    I think that VM paging-induced lags are something that can't be overcome as long as we keep programming like we do -- with the assumption of infinite memory, more or less. I would really like to see a gradual shift towards realtime scheduling and applications where at least the core code and data is permanently wired. In the days of CP/M, WordStar was dealing quite well with slow links between the CPU and the terminal: you could type while it was trying to refresh the menus and the workspace. In the worst case, if you typed really fast, it'd only paint the characters you typed and nothing else. The timing was done such that it took into account the terminal baudrate, so things suitably improved when you'd switch the baudrate to something faster (38400 was a big deal back then, many systems only supported 19200 and defaulted to 4800 or 9600bps).

    These days there are plenty of applications where everything is unresponsive due to paging just a tiny part of the UI. You'd think that the hot path would be resident and responsive, and that the GUI systems would cope with multiple application threads all doing GUI operations. Alas, neither X11 nor winapi got that right, and I don't know offhand whether multithreaded UI operations are allowed by OS X. Heck, you'd think that message-based interthread/interprocess communications would enable one to queue messages in face of stalled threads (say disk I/O stalls), and let the core user experience stay on par with expectations circa 1980.

    Paging is the sole killer of user experience in modern applications, and it's not easy to work around it in environments where only one thread in a process can paint on the screen.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 04, 2010 @05:04PM (#34129730)
    It went both ways. I know a guy who worked on spy satellites for the Americans during that era. In one project, the contractor required a metal plate to be drilled with zillions (technical term) of microscopic holes. For what usage, I don't know and he won't say. What he will say is that the technology to drill the holes wasn't available in the United States. So they shipped the plate to a Russian firm who had a laser driller with the required capability, of course shunting it through dozens of shell corporations, third world countries, and who knows what else. The Russian took the plate and drilled it, then sent it back through the same convoluted path to the Americans, who then took it, installed it in their satellite and proceeded to use it to spy on the Russians. Good times.
  • by Cyberax (705495) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @05:29PM (#34130022)

    It was more complex.

    Russia had its own pretty advanced computer technology till 70-s. BESM ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BESM [wikipedia.org] ) computers were on par with Western Bloc models and there were original developments like Setun' computer with ternary arithmetic ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Setun [wikipedia.org] ).

    Then came a 'bright' idea to partner with IBM. USSR actually paid for licenses for IBM hardware (IBM software was probably free at that time) so it was not pure piracy.

  • by trurl7 (663880) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @05:56PM (#34130340)

    It's actually quite easy to think of a better citation. The Gulag Archipelago is a work of fiction; Solzhenitsyn has in later life admitted that, especially in regards to the overall numbers, he had made things up. This is not denying reality of what the Soviet regime was up to in those years - simply that you don't want to use the Gulag Archipelago as your primary historical citation.

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