A Couple of Words About Myself
My name is Gregory Gromov and I launched the site netvalley.com in 1995.
"It was a long way to ..." NetValley, that took me about 40
I quit day school in 1956 and went to work at a radio repair shop and
continued taking high-school classes in the evening. At first I was a
trainee, a misnomer of sorts, since no one ever trained anyone in places
like that. If you did something useful for a veteran repairman, then he
might share with you a trick or two. Thus my
career started at 15,
with rewiring burnt-out transformers in power adapters.
We are talking about a few thousand of strands with insulating liner
(the latter was made of paper sold for throat packs we would buy at the
pharmacy). We would wind them by hand without a “stacker” - no such
machinery at the shop - on a mechanical drill. Yet we couldn’t afford
any kinks between the strands, since this could cause a transformer to
Thus on the average it took me two to three hours or even longer (if
complications arose), to rewind a power transformer for a radio
typical at the time (e.g. “AP3“, mentioned later). This included taking
apart the iron plates from a burnt-out transformer and assembly over the
freshly wound spool.
The veterans’ advice came in handy. They compensated for the
transformers with practical advice, but in general the radio circuits
had to be learned - literally - “by touch”.
The only electric tool I had was a legendary - at the time - “tester”,
which is what Russians called a pointer ampere-volt-ohmmeter. I also had
a huge volume called “How Radio Sets Work” that contained basic
diagrams for practically all the Soviet-made radio sets in popular use.
Still, peering through the smoke of resin and the drops of tin off the
soldering iron, I managed to grasp some basics of tube-based devices,
and some of these basics turned out to be essential not for tube
Of course the radio sets that were brought to the shop were of the
simplest design, like the cheapest popular AP3 (Alexandrov Radio Works)
Once in a while we would get more complicated stuff as well. I remember
one time someone brought in a
At the time it was a very expensive set, with many tubes and bands and
complicated mechanics of fixed tuning. This is the likeness that I
managed to locate on the Web (going by the basis of the parameters
Everybody at the shop immediately concluded that this “Leningrad" was a
hopeless case and assigned the repair of this set to... me. Just
in case the client complained to the manager, it made sense to use a
“young inexperienced mechanic” as a scapegoat.
I took it apart, trying to understand what was wrong. Everyone was
surprised, for it seemed like a rash way to go, and exchanged looks of
sympathy: The kid jumped the gun, now he’s really stuck...
It is one thing when a mechanic handles the set, “feels out” its
“pressure points” with a tester, and then decides there’s no way he can
fix it. It’s quite another thing when you are facing a pile of parts on
your desk and not a single manual - how do you put it together? On top
of everything, I took apart and unsoldered
the tuning mechanism down to the smallest nut and bolt and tagged the
unsoldered ends of every wire, to make the assembly easier. In the
evening, when people were going home, they were avoiding my eyes.
But by the time they showed up in the morning, I was turning the knob of
the vernier mechanism of the already assembled set and oiling the
bearings. Generally this was considered the last stage of repair. They
crowded around me in silence. I pressed the key of a fixed tuning band.
Foreign speech came out - the short wave was working; another key, yet
another one - they were all working. No wonder I remember that scene so
clearly to this day.
Samara State Aerospace
majoring in Radio Technology and Electronics of
so called “Flying
– then the code name for missiles.
In my first year I could take night courses only since I had a day job
at the aviation plant, in the shop of final assembly of TU-95 strategic
Wikipedia: "Tupolev Tu-95 (Russian: Туполев
Ту-95; NATO reporting name: 'Bear') is a large, four-engine
turboprop-powered strategic bomber and missile platform. First flown
in 1952, the Tu-95 entered service with the Soviet Union in 1956 and
is expected to serve the Russian Air Force until at least 2040".
photographed from a RAF Typhoon Quick Reaction Alert aircraft.
with MS in Radio Technology & Electronics
in 1965 and worked on a
of projects in
Space Technology. Throughout this period I spent much time pondering on
technological solutions in pulse technology and later received
[USSR version of patents]
for some of them:
Г. Р. Громов. Генератор Импульсов (G.R. Gromov. "Impulse
Generator") Patent # 266816 - Filing date: March 15, 1969.
Published: April 01, 1970. (p.1,
Г. Р. Громов. Частотно-Импульсный Модулятор. (G.R. Gromov.
"Frequency Pulse Modulator") Patent #304684. Filing date:
December 31, 1969. Published: May 25, 1971. (p.
Г. Р. Громов. Интегрирующее Устройство. (G.R. Gromov.
"Integration unit") Patent # 387382 Filing date: September 07,
1971. Published: June 21, 1973. (p.1,
Г. Р. Громов. Частотно-Импульсный Модулятор. (G.R. Gromov.
"Frequency Pulse Modulator") Patent #400989. Filing date: 30,
1971. Published: September 01, 1973. (p.1,
In the early 70s I took a position of Research Engineer at the Research
& Computing Center in Puschino Science
outside Moscow. Most of my work consisted in
based system to automate
Громов Г.Р., Ройтберг М.А. ДИАНЭД - система диалогового анализа
экспериментальных данных. 1. Структура системы и принципы
функционирования. Материалы по математическому обеспечению ЭВМ. вып.1,.
42с. Пущино ОНТИ НЦБИ АН СССР. серия мини-ЭВМ, 1977. [Gregory
Gromov, Michael Roitberg. DIANED - Dialogue Analysis of Experimental
Data. 1. The system"s basic functionality and structure. Series:
Software Systems. vol. 1. 42 p. Scientific Biological Center, Puschino,
Громов Г.Р., Ройтберг М.А. ДИАНЭД - система диалогового анализа
экспериментальных данных.. вып. 2. Инструкции по написакнию прикладных
программ. . Материалы по математическому обеспечению ЭВМ. 30с.
Пущино ОНТИ НЦБИ АН СССР. серия мини-ЭВМ, 1978. [Gregory Gromov,
Michael Roitberg. DIANED - Dialogue Analysis of Experimental Data. v.
2 The developers' manual 30 p. Scientific Biological Center,
Puschino, 1977 ]
Gregory Gromov testing the DIANED system at the MIR-2
The above picture, taken sometime in 1975-77, shows me tuning DIANED
via MIR-2 mini-computer. MIR-2 was noticeably ahead of its time. It
contained a "structural interpretation" analytical transformation
algorithm, as well as one of the first applications in interactive
computations -- the "light pen". It also contained many other advanced
features that made it instrumental to the analytical work our team was
doing at the time.
Overall, about 10, 000 MIR-2‘s were built for using in R&D branches in
DIANED system became popular among MIR-2 users
later requests were made to adapt DIANED to other types of computers. In
early 80s DIANED was used on SM-3 and SM-4 minicomputers (compatible
with DEC's PDP-11) and others:
Громов Г.Р., Ройтберг М.А. Опыт разработки
диалоговой программной системы для мини-ЭВМ СМ-3, СМ-4 В сб. трудов
советско-финского симпозиума "Интерактивные системы" 1979. c. 77-83
Тбилиси. [Gregory Gromov, Michael Roitberg. The development of
dialogue software for mini-computers SM-3, SM-4 (PDP-11).
Proceedings Russian-Finnish Conference: "Interactive
Sysytems" . Tbilisi, 1979 p. 77-83]
was also installed on computers of many research centers, including the
PDP-11/40 minicomputer at Moscow University’s Math Department.
Initial version of MIR-2-based DIANED was developed to computerize data
processing in neurophysiologic experiments conducted at the Memory
Department at Puschino Biophysics
was developing a computer system
control scientific experiments
at Puschino Microbiology
The system was developed on Electronica-60 Microсomputer, in effect a
clone of DEC’s LSI-11.
Громов Г.Р., Ширшиков Н.В.,
Микромашинный комплекс для
управления биотехнологическими процессами. Микропроцессорные средства и
системы 1984, #2. p. 54-59 [G.R. Gromov, N.V. Shirshikov, L.A.
Litvinenko. The micro-computer system to control the biotech processes.
Microprocessor Devices & Systems, 1984 #2 p.54-59, Moscow]
At the same time I was engaged in the task of Experimental Design And
Data Analysis For Telemetry Projects:
Громов Г.Р. Оценка приведенной погрешности дискретного канала
телеизмерения. Электросвязь 1980 #7 c.57 Москва [The
estimation of digital channel error. Electronic Communication #7
1980 p.57. Мoscow]
Громов Г.Р. Экономичный интегрирующий преобразователь ток-частота.
Приборы и техника эксперимента 1980 # 4, p. 83-84. Москва. Наука.
[Gregory Gromov.Economical Current-To-Frequency Converter. The Units
& Technique of
Experiments, #4 1980, p.83-84, Moscow]
In the late 80s my interest in science started undergoing a paradigm
shift. I was paying more attention to analytic research of structural
changes in IT-industry, caused by the industry’s transition from
This is how I described this shift in an introduction to one of my
"About 15 years ago I read an article in Electronics, an American
magazine. The article quoted arguments by university administrators and
IEEE leaders. To produce more engineers, university administration
demanded more money from the federal government, whereas IEEE leaders
argued against, saying that universities produce enough electrical
engineers. IEEE's position was that the shortage of engineers was due
to many complex factors that had nothing to do with lack of engineering
graduates. As one of the IEEE representatives emphasized, electrical
engineers only work in the field for 5-8 years after the graduation and
later become managers or … taxi drivers and that it was virtually
impossible to find an electrical engineer over 40. He argued that
spending money on improving social status of electrical
engineers is a better way to solve shortage of engineers compared to
spending money on increasing number of engineering graduates.
Looking back, I realized that same held true for us (the Soviets)
of all the engineering students from my graduation year, I was the only
senior engineer “wielding a soldering iron". Everyone else was in
management of one sort or another. In other words, in the USSR, just
like in the US, by the time engineers reached 40, they would become
either managers or taxi drivers. This realization forced me to reassess
my career and ask myself if I was on the
track. Should I be doing something other than bouncing between
oscilloscopes and soldering irons 20 years after the graduation?
I started out in the vacuum-tube era. Introduction of semiconductors
was the first big change in design stereotypes. At about the time I
gained some designing proficiency in semi-conductors, along came
integrated circuits (IC) and took center stage. Between discrete
semiconductors and ICs there was about 1-2 years of layered micromodules.
Later came BIC, microprocessors, early Soviet minicomputers like MIR-2
and SM-4 (PDP-11), Electronics-60 micro-computers (LSI-11) … for most of
my engineer colleagues, one such transition was a lot and two were
plenty. The transition required changing design principles and breaking
established conventions and stereotypes and would force my colleagues to
become either managers or taxi drivers.
I, on the other hand, was always excited about change; by the time I
finished one project I was already involved in another, dazzled by a new
technology that presented new challenges and opportunities.
After a revelation in the above mentioned Electronics magazine
article, my engineering fervor did not exactly ebb; rather, it turned to
going beyond understanding the "guts" of a circuit or a device and,
rather, looking at the Big Picture: what was the purpose of the circuit?
Why was the old circuitry insufficient? Is it possible to say what new
requirements are likely to emerge that would cause another circuit to be
developed and replace it? Is it possible to structure existing
knowledge in a way that would allow to answer these questions?
Initial attempts to catalogue 20 years of experience into memoir-like
texts ran into obvious difficulties. Clearly, discussing tendencies in
in the open press was impossible in late ‘70s. At the same
time, failing to mention aspects of existing economic system seemed just
as pointless. To resolve this contradiction, I attempted to analyze my
experience in the Soviet system and back it with actual data from
foreign publications, which served as the initial stage of analytical
The summary of the research was published in 1984 by Nauka(“Science”)
publishing house. Possibly because this was the first Russian book on
this subject, it sold out incredibly fast for a scientific text. The
second edition of the book came out the following year.
In 1983 as
Managing Editor of editorial team
I took part in
to launch the
“Microprocessor Devices and Systems”
and then continued working with its team hands-on for the next 5 years.
the 4th year the paid circulation exceeded 100,000 copies (from 7,000 in
1984 to 101,000 in 1988), with over 10,000 foreign subscribers.
the History of “Microprocessor Devices and Systems” Journal”
IEEE Conference Publications, 2014, p. 191 - 193