Information technology is one of the fastest growing industries of the Russian economy, which concentrates considerable financial and intellectual resources. Russian IT companies rank among the European leaders across multiple criteria, and a number of these companies are among the world leaders in their respective areas.
The volume of sales of IT companies in Russia in 2012 amounted to more than 600 billion roubles merely in the domestic market (approximately 20 billion US dollars), and this evaluation does not take account of the supply of telecommunications equipment and office and mobile devices. The overall revenues of IT companies in Russia from the sales of equipment thus amounted to more than 350 billion roubles, and another 120 billion roubles accounted for the sales of software, and 150 billion roubles — for IT-related services.
The information and communication technology area employs relatively few people, approximately 300 thousand people, but it is generally a highly qualified workforce with incomes substantially higher than the average figures in the economy. In addition, this evaluation does not take account of experts for the support of information infrastructure in common companies (e.g., system administrators), the number of which also amounts to several hundred thousand people.
The information technology industry and the industry for the production of appropriate equipment was formed in the USSR around the same time as in other developed countries. The design of proprietary electronic data processing machines began in the late 40s of the last century, and as this process took place, more and more people were engaged in the related activities, and the development of various models of electronic data processing machines was carried out in the Institute of Precision Mechanics and Computer Technology, which was established for this purpose in 1948, the laboratory of electrical systems of the Energy Research Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (subsequently the Institute of Electronic Control Machines) and a number of restricted-access design engineering bureaus. Additionally, enterprises producing electronic data processing machines, such as Kazan plant for the production of punched card machines, were established.
In the 1960s the development of information technology in the Soviet Union continued to increase the pace of its development — for example, the Institute of Cybernetics of the Academy of Sciences of Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, was established. Additionally, in 1962 the Council of Ministers of the USSR initiated the development of the information technology cluster in Zelenograd, which was unofficially nicknamed the «Soviet Silicon Valley», since it consolidated a number of enterprises for the development and production of domestic electronic data processing machines. The software engineering area developed quite as rapidly, since the increase in the number of electronic data processing machines led to the increase of the number of applications covered by these machines.
At the end of the decade, the industry witnessed a gradual reorientation towards the replication of data processing machines of the leading companies, first and foremost, the IBM Corporation. This was associated with the fact that up to that point, there were about 20 incompatible models of electronic data processing machines in the USSR, and this fact created extreme challenges in the software engineering area. What was needed was a single standard to not only reduce the cost of development and maintenance of electronic data processing machines, but also to maintain a uniform pace of development of the IT industry with the leading countries. Henceforth, despite a number of proprietary developments, which were elaborated in the Soviet Union, the Soviet specialists generally continued to reproduce the state-of-the-art developments of the American and European companies both in terms of equipment (models of electronic data processing machines, microprocessors, data storage devices, etc.) and in terms of software engineering (such programming languages as Basic, Fortran, Pascal, and others were actively used in the Soviet Union).
In the 80’s of 20th century, and almost simultaneously with other developed countries, the Soviet Union started to manufacture personal computers, which, by the way, had original designs. By the end of the decade they managed to appear on the open market, and it should be emphasized that Soviet PCs were not inferior to the majority of American and European personal computers of those times in terms of performance. These computers were also used for teaching information science in schools, although Yamaha MSX educational complexes still enjoyed the greatest popularity.