The legend of "Setun"

In ancient times, when trees were lower, and space is still so far, somewhere in the late 50s of the last century, the era of computers was born.
Engineers in white coats were making history.
Transistors, diodes, relays, ferrite cubes ... the first computers were created.
A legend appeared in the walls of Moscow State University. And her name is Setun.

Промышленный образец ЭВМ «Сетунь», ВДНХ, 1961 год

Setun - the first and only trinity computer

  • Chief Designer: N. Brusentsov; main developers: Zhogolev E.A., Maslov S.P., Verigin V.V.
  • Organization-developer: Computing Center of Moscow State University M.V. Lomonosov.
  • Manufacturer: Kazan Plant of Mathematical Machines of the USSR Ministry of Radio Industry. The manufacturer of logic elements is the Astrakhan plant of electronic equipment and electronic devices of the USSR Ministry of Radio Industry. The manufacturer of magnetic drums is the Penza Computer Plant of the USSR Ministry of Radio Industry. The manufacturer of the printing device is the Moscow Typewriter Plant of the USSR Ministry of Appliance.
  • Year of completion: 1959.
  • Year of the beginning of release: 1961.
  • Year of graduation: 1965.
  • Number of cars produced: 50.
  • Factory price: 27.5 thousand rubles.
  • 27 teams (3 reserved)
  • RAM - 162 9-Trit cells
  • The main memory is a magnetic drum with a capacity of 36 or 72 pages (page - 54 cells).
  • The average operational speed of the machine 2000-4500 operations per second
  • The clock frequency is 200 kHz.
  • Power consumption - 2.5 kVA,
  • The area for accommodation is 25-30 square meters. м.
  • Operating temperature range - 15-30 ° С
(Based on materials from the virtual computer museum )

Our days

A few years ago, I first learned about the existence of a ternary symmetric number system, with its interesting features. In search of information on this topic, from the site of the virtual computer museum, I found out about the computer built on its basis - the Setun MTsVM. Soon the idea of ​​creating a software simulator of this machine was born.


This Internet application that simulates the operation of a real machine allows you to execute programs written for Setun.

In the simulator, the original Setuni panel has been recreated, with which the progress is controlled.

Основной вид симулятора «Сетунь-ВС»
All devices are presented in the form of standard elements of Internet applications: text fields, buttons and images.

Downloading programs is carried out through the text input fields, which are virtual phototransmitters. Also, commands can be entered directly from the remote control.

The input is a character set simulating punch tape. Data can be represented as in the ternary system: by symbols -, 0, +; and in ninefold with the English or Russian alphabet. The number system is automatically recognized.

After loading, the launch of the program, as in a real machine, is performed by the “Initial start” button.
The status of the registers can be estimated by the indicators on the control panel.

To output data, the EUM-46 printer is simulated.
So, for example, you can run the Test-1 program written for Setun, which checks the basic functionality, and if executed correctly, the printer displays the line “TEST1”.

To analyze the progress of programs, there is a special console mode, which, in addition to the status of the registers, reflects the state of each cell of the storage device. Also, in console mode, the progress of each operation is presented in expanded form, with a brief description of the command being executed.

The speed of operations "Setun-VS" is comparable to a real machine.
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On the site you can also find a guide to working with the simulator, a brief description of "Setun", the texts of the programs.

Back to the Future

The other day, a conference was held at Moscow State University dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the Setun machine and the 55th anniversary of the scientific activity of its chief designer Nikolai Petrovich Brusentsov. I was lucky to become a member of it.
In our time, “Setun” has no analogues, but historically, the development of computer science has gone into the mainstream of binary logic. But time is changeable and perhaps in the future people will return to the triple, and the ideas embodied in Setun will again become relevant.