OGAS (Russian: Общегосударственная автоматизированная система учёта и обработки информации, All-State Automated System) was a Soviet project to create a nationwide information network. The project began in 1962 but was denied necessary funding in 1970. It was one of a series of attempts to create a nationwide network analogous to what became the Internet, all of which failed.
The primary architect of OGAS was Viktor Glushkov. A previous proposal for a national computer network to improve central planning, Anatolii Kitov's Economic Automated Management System, had been rejected in 1959 because of concerns in the military that they would be required to share information with civilian planners. Glushkov proposed OGAS in 1962 as a three-tier network with a computer centre in Moscow, up to 200 midlevel centres in other major cities, and up to 20,000 local terminals in economically significant locations, communicating in real time using the existing telephone infrastructure. The structure would also permit any terminal to communicate with any other. Glushkov further proposed using the system to move the Soviet Union towards a moneyless economy, using the system for electronic payments. The project failed because Glushkov's request for funding on 1 October 1970 was turned down. The 24th Communist Party Congress in 1971 was to have authorised implementation of the plan, but ultimately endorsed only expansion of local information management systems. Glushkov subsequently pursued another network plan, EGSVT, which was also underfunded and not carried out. Soviet network plans failed while the American ARPANET succeeded.
The OGAS proposal was resented by some liberals as excessive central control, but failed primarily because of bureaucratic infighting: it was under the auspices of the Central Statistical Administration and as such fell afoul of Vasily Garbuzov, who saw a threat to his Ministry of Finance. When EGSVT failed, the next attempt (SOFE) was done in 1964 by Nikolay Fedorenko, who attempted to build an information network that could be used in economic planning in Soviet Union's planned economy. The project was successful at a micro-level but did not spread into wide use.
Cybernetic economic planning
Beginning in the early 1960s, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union considered moving away from the existing Stalinist command planning in favor of developing an interlinked computerized system of resource allocation based on the principles of Cybernetics. This development was seen as the basis for moving toward optimal planning that could form the basis of a more highly developed form of socialist economy based on informational decentralization and innovation. This was seen as a logical progression given that the material balances system was geared toward rapid industrialization, which the Soviet Union had already achieved in the preceding decades. But by the early 1970s the idea of transcending the status quo was abandoned by the Soviet leadership, who felt the system threatened Party control of the economy. By the early 1970s official interest in this system ended.
- Peters, Benjamin (2016). How Not to Network a Nation: The Uneasy History of the Soviet Internet. MIT Press. ISBN 9780262034180.
- Peters, Benjamin (16 October 2016). Dresser, Sam, ed. "The Soviet InterNyet: How the Soviets invented the internet and why it didn't work". Aeon (excerpt from How Not to Network a Nation). Retrieved 19 October 2016.
- Gerovitch, Slava (December 2008). "InterNyet: why the Soviet Union did not build a nationwide computer network" (PDF). History and Technology. 24 (4): 335–50. doi:10.1080/07341510802044736. ISSN 0734-1512.
- Peters, Benjamin (2008). "Why the Soviet Internet Failed" (PDF). MIT 6 Conference. MIT.
- InterNyet: why the Soviet Union did not build a nationwide computer network, by Gerovitch, Slava. December 2008. History and Technology. Vol. 24, No. 4 (Dec 2008), pp. 335-350.