KEYWORDS TODAY:   UkraineEuropean Elections

Bulgaria: Soviet Silicon Valley Revived

Views on BG | November 5, 2009, Thursday // 18:11| Views: 2901 | Comments: 5
  • Send to Kindle
Bulgaria: Bulgaria: Soviet Silicon Valley Revived

Radio Netherlands Worldwide

Bulgaria's transition to democracy was relatively smooth. It had always been one of the most open of the Soviet states and by the time the impact of Mikhail Gorbachev's reform programme was being felt in the late 1980s, the Bulgarian Communist Party was too feeble to resist the demand for change.

Bulgaria's leader Todor Zhivkov was ousted the day after the Berlin Wall fell, and even though his place was taken by a Communist movement veteran, his departure gave impetus to the country's pro-democracy movement. The Communist Party voluntarily gave up its absolute hold on power in February 1990, and the country's first free elections since 1946 were held four months later.

Soviet Silicon Valley

During the last years of the Communist regime, Bulgaria produced 40 percent of the computers used across the Soviet Union and was known as the Soviet Silicon Valley. Nik Martin went to Bulgaria to track down the legendary Pravetz PC.

Stolen technology

The Pravetz was named after the town in which it was produced, also the home town of the country's Communist leader Todor Zhivkov. The Pravetz company was set up in the 1960s and started producing computers in the 1980s. The fact that the computers were based on technology stolen from the West was a state secret at the time. Engineers from the factory recount how they would go on "business trips" abroad to get their hands on new software, which was then reverse engineered and even improved back at the Pravetz factory.

Computers to buckets and back

When Communism fell, the factory could no longer sell its computers because its machines violated copyright laws. The factory ended up turning to making plastic buckets and Bulgaria's position as the East European leader of technology temporarily crumbled.

Yet today, Bulgaria's computer industry is on the up again and it is seeing success in its attempts to position itself as an IT outsourcing competitor to India.

Views on BG » Be a reporter: Write and send your article
Tags: Todor Zhivkov, Pravetz, communism
Expats.bg All Are Welcome! Join Now!

Leave a comment


» To the forumComments (5)
#5
FIGMENT - 6 Nov 2009 // 23:56:01

" Yet today, Bulgaria's computer industry is on the up again and it is seeing success in its attempts to position itself as an IT outsourcing competitor to India."

Yeah, right........Stealing software from the west is one thing, producing sofware and having IT competence is another game entirely. Fuzzy logic indeed!

#4
dzingis - 5 Nov 2009 // 21:09:50

Atanasov is a common southern Bulgarian name.

#3
Pantudi - 5 Nov 2009 // 19:17:44

"Bulgaria's transition to democracy was relatively smooth. It had always been one of the most open of the Soviet states ...'

This article very stupid. Bulgaria never wasn't open Soviet state.

#2
DrFaust - 5 Nov 2009 // 18:37:03

Fuzzy logic is in fact very much a Bulgarian invention. But the story about the 'ethnic Bulgarian' who invented the computer has a very long beard but gets not more true by its permanent repitition.

#1
dzingis - 5 Nov 2009 // 18:32:01

"Stolen" from the west? How many scientist the West stole after installing German spy Lenin and British sponsored Communist Party of Russia?

Not sure whether ethnic Bulgarian John Ivanov Atanasoff holds the patent for an electronic computer but he sure was one of the pioneers. Von Neumann architecture author is Hungarian Janos Lajos.

Bulgaria news Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency - www.sofianewsagency.com) is unique with being a real time news provider in English that informs its readers about the latest Bulgarian news. The editorial staff also publishes a daily online newspaper "Sofia Morning News." Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency - www.sofianewsagency.com) and Sofia Morning News publish the latest economic, political and cultural news that take place in Bulgaria. Foreign media analysis on Bulgaria and World News in Brief are also part of the web site and the online newspaper. News Bulgaria