The Interrupted Flight

(article from
Professor G.A. Meshcheriakov

My first meeting with Anatoliy[1] Kitov took place in August 1956. Then he was the Computer Centre N1 chief`s first deputy (scientific director) at the USSR Ministry of Defence. I myself was one of the fifteen young university graduates appointed as staff of that military computer centre - that time the first and the leading one within the Ministry of Defence`s organisational structure. We all graduated from the faculty of mechanics and mathematics of the M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University. That year more other young specialists - graduates of various universities and leading institutes[2] were selected to work there. They all were also mathematicians from Moscow, Leningrad, Saratov, Tomsk, Nizhniy Novgorod, Kiev, etc. Then, in 1956, Computer Centre N1 of the USSR Ministry of Defence was the biggest one in the country. It was constantly expanding - successful efforts of A.I. Kitov played notable role in that.

When new candidates arrived to the personnel department of the centre they were received by the special selection commission, consisting chiefly of the leading scientists and administrators - the directors of departments, which needed new specialists. Those meetings were mainly headed by A.I. Kitov, and it was he, who made the final decision on enlisting a new candidate. Besides A.I. Kitov, we - the mathematicians - were also interviewed by N.P. Buslenko and N.A. Krinitskiy the chiefs of some centre`s departments.

That interview was my first meeting with A.I. Kitov, a very competent and energetic person. He was characterised with concrete and pragmatic approach to problems and so were his questions. However, I was impressed with unexpectedly relieving `after-effect` of the talk. The talk with him totally removed our fears of working under conditions of strict military discipline. Later I noticed that it was his typical manner of discussion (no matter how long or short).

A.I. Kitov knew how to value both, his own and his colleague`s time. Then in 1956 we all, the beginning specialists, quickly noticed his rather young age. He was 36 - just ten years older than we, what impressively contrasted with his already high scientific and administrative position at that, very serious and important, organisation and with his military rank of a lieutenant-colonel.

Already in our first months at the Сomputer centre N1 we realised that, in spite of his young age, A.I. Kitov - scientific director of this important organisation- was very respected person, who enjoyed genuine influence and authority among his collaborators. Kitov possessed global and systematised way of thinking; he was very thorough and insisted on high standards at the works trusted to his specialists.

In 1953, when we were still students, some of us saw Kitov - then a major - speaking before overcrowded ceremonial hall of the M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University. He was delivering the first lecture on possibilities of cybernetics, then young and practically unknown science. The 1950-s was the formation period for the Soviet cybernetics, computer engineering and programming as well as for development of mathematical methods and their practical applications in various fields of human activity, including the military one.

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