Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kvant Feels Benefit of IBM Deal

For Vladimir Orlov, an engineer at the Kvant factory near Moscow, the opening of a new IBM personal computer assembly line means more than just a welcome rise in his salary. It is the chance to move to the forefront of Western computer technology.

Orlov tests basic PS/1 IBM personal computers, costing $1, 500, which are now assembled at the Kvant plant in Zelenograd, but he is confident that workers at his factory can move to more complicated computers and more advanced skills. "I can assemble a $4, 000 computer any time", he said.

In the meantime, starting this week, his salary and that of the 50 other people who work in the section of the Kvant factory that has been converted to the IBM venture, will almost triple from 40, 000 rubles ($34) to 100, 000 rubles.

IBM opened the assembly line in Zelenograd as part of a strategy of cutting costs by using cheap Russian labor, but for Kvant, the joint venture was almost its last chance to repay its debts and stave off collapse.

The Soviet government, which barred Western computers from the Russian market, invested huge sums of money into Kvant in the 70s and 80s, trying to promote production of Russia-designed KTV computers.

"The idea was that every Soviet organization or school had KTVs", said Irina Lisogorskaya, deputy director of the production line.

But since 1985 when the first Western computers arrived and especially since subsidies ended, Kvant has found it hard to sell its computers, and now apparently has decided that if it cannot beat the competition, it should join it.

The old ways survive however. With typical Soviet love for huge production targets, Bogdan Polotaiko, Kvant's director, said at the opening ceremony for the assembly line that Kvant is capable of assembling 800, 000 computers a year. He said, however, that at the initial stage it will make 2, 000 to 3, 000 a month.