English Version

Bers Andrei
, ..., baehrs@iis.nsk.su

Workstation Mabel

In 1980 -1987 the project of a workstation “Mabel” was considered in the framework of an international project between USSR and Poland for the “Project Ruby of the “Pravda” as a working place for editorial activity built on the weak element base. In this project publishing house “Pravda”, Institute of applying Mathematics named after M.V. Keldish, the plant of exact mechanics “MERA-Blone” and the Center of TV engineering took part. The project Ruby was included into the list of most important scientific-researching works of USSR for the period from 1980-85.

Architecture, design and functioning features of “Mabe” and working places and also basic applying software were developed in the laboratory in academy institute. A group of specialists of the plant “MERA-Blone” applied the ideas in the computers and series production. Publishing house “Pravda” gave a big support in the process.

Design staff:

In the laboratory of experimental informatics of AS worked: A.A. Bers, U.V. Bovkun, A.V. Kovalenin, A.p. Melnik, A.r. Mullagoliev, G.P. Nesgovorova, E.V. Polyakov, S.B. Rudnev, M.V. Sadomskaya, V.A. Chetverin.

At the plant worked: M.Avgustinyak, Y. Zavadskij, Y. Zagraek, M. Zulkovskij, A.Kolodeyak, Z. Luchuk, Y. Matrash, T. Moshevitch, R. Pazek and S. Shumskij. The displays were developed in Warsaw Center of TV computers under the direction of E. Kani, and L. Nepekeli.

All organization difficulties were on the publishing house “Pravda” and its head V.A. Tibenbakh.

The author, ex- chief designer of the project would like to say ‘thank you’ to all participants of the project.

Before the project Ruby there were researches of the editing process in the publishing house ‘’Pravda” and a system analyses of them. It was confirmed in 1979 that the system would consist of peripheral net and computer center CC. CC with informative-reference data base for the analyses and checking of publishing materials, perspective planning were realized on the base of big computers. Workstation was developed as a terminal base of a peripheral local net of working places for the collaborators of the publishing house.

It was necessary to provide editorial processes with the autoimmunization that big volume of text information could be done for short periods of time.

The aim of the work was to develop programming computer bases, systems of working places for the collaborators of the publishing house. So the development of Mabel was a complex work with projecting computers, software and type ware and design.

 There was an experimental series of 40 working places with basic software and applying software of working places.

The experimental exploitation of these convenient working places for users was done. A great number of high quality publications were produced on them.

Series of “Mabel” was exhibited at “Siberia device 87” (Academgorsk, 1987) where it got a diploma for an original solution, “POLIKO-87” (Pozdan, 1987) and “Plant “MERA-Bone” to the soviet informatics” (Moscow, 1997, Vilnius, 1988).

At the contest of applying works “Mabel” got the diploma and the third place in 1988.

According to the researches in the publication house “Pravda” there were developed three basic cannels of information processing:

-         texts processing, type-setting, type-proof and preparation of printed forms of newspaper rages

-         planning of issues and their controlling

-         informative-reference service and checking of publishing facts

Different working places of the collaborators must provide the realization of these cannels in different combinations and gave an opportunity to use the results of one work in the process of the others.

It was also necessary to take into consideration some limits that were set by the customer and the situation:

-         In general the computers must be built on the base of the soviet element base and components

-         It demanded to keep the technology of the publishing house, its style and coordination principles of the collaborators without loosing of their working place comfort; and it was clear that they wouldn’t adapt themselves to the peculiarities of the computers and programs.

On the other hand the vast majority of the computers at the end of 70s had borrowed software. According to their features and construction they were not fitted to the work in the publishing house. Practically, there were no terminals for work with publications. The complex of photo typing devices on the perforated tape was primitive.

The exploiting foreign typography systems on the computers didn’t fit and make the process of publishing in Russian and other languages more difficult.

 It was possible to choose one of the big computer models and develop applying programs on the base of operating systems, but it was impossible for terminal system of Ruby with the present at that moment computers. So, it was decided to develop a new computer of macro-mini class. It got the name “Workstation Mabel”.

It was clear that the power of one microprocessor K580BM80 wouldn’t be enough for supplying necessary functions and working places features.

So, the problem of computers and software development of a new computer complex was solved with joint work of Poland plant “MERA-Blone”.

The following requirements for the new programming computer complex were included into the project:

-         modularity of hardware, basic and supplying software

-         multiprocessors, including heterogeneity of hardware and software

-         multitasking of user service

-         a lot of places at the workstation connected with each other

-         a lot of windows of the interface and displays

-         coordination that allows working in collective mode

-         good quality of polygraph aspects that are processed including variety of languages, types of writing language and prints

-         changing configuration of the working place, according to hardware, software and design

-           access coordination to general using data bases, that are in the central computer and at the working place

In order to realize all these requirements a conceptual model of computing process fulfillment organization was worked out. And according to the experience that was got when Sapphire was developed a conceptual model of electron preparation of publications was worked out too.

The following problems were solved:

-         To carry out a joint projecting of programming hardware, basic and applying software, interface of the user and design of the working place

-         To develop original open hardware with heterogenic blocks and provide necessary features of working places even with weak element base thanks to architecture and opportunity to choose between hardware and program realization of necessary functions

-          To develop a modal of computing organization – “Operation setting of high level”; it became possible with the combination of a great number of interconnecting processes working in the interest of users on the base of virtual processors every of witch works in the multiprogramming mode

-         To develop operating system and basic software that controls the work of multiprocessor complex

-         To develop multiprocessor system from different components and organize their work in the multiprogramming mode fulfillment of a great number of interconnecting processes working simultaneously in the interest of users; this provides a parallel work with the help of virtual computer combination on the heterogenic means

-         To give opportunities for further widening of Mabel by modules, devices and applying software; and get a variety of working places with a few types of modules

So there was realized a number of original architecture, constructive and programming solutions; some of them became ordinary today (split-screen interface, programming prints and others)

In the experimental series there were two models of “Mabel”: two-seater and four-seater; and two examples of one-seater split-screen workstation.

Computer block were built on the microprocessor 8086 and coprocessors: input and output. The block realizes connections between the system and local wires, has schemes for 15 enters of breaking, mechanism of page addressing, microschemes of 32 K, 16-class words.

For the computer block it was developed and original mechanism of address widening: a scheme that identifies according to the condition signals and the number of the cycle in the command, for what processor addresses to the memory. So operating memory is divided into four spaces; any three could be for a program as data, space programs.

It was provided a page access with the help of an address change table. Any word can be read and recorded with the processor. There are two variants of page size: 4Kb and 16Kb. Signals come from the table and direct the address to microschemes. In the 16-Kb size all bits are used; and 14 from them identify the shift on the page.

As a result the processor has an access to 64 pages; every page can be at indifferent addresses of the memory: system wire, local wire. The logical range of addressing is 16M.

Operating system ONIKS allows using several processors of different types and provides fulfillment of working combination for several languages – JAVA, SIDUL and FORDULA.

The working places allow fulfilling of software development and electron preparations of publications including Russian-Chinese phrase-book.

In one the latest articles A.P. Ershov pointed about the parallelism between American list of personal computers features of 90s and opportunities of the experimental sample of PC “Mabel”. Much attention was paid on the design of the working places. In comparison with the situations when computer takes a lot place on the desk there was an organization of a lot of free space in the projecting of PC Mabel.

So, all modules were placed near the desk into a set, for the keyboard there was a frame with rollers. The keyboard has 137 keys; the notion of 134 key can be reprogrammed, it is controlled with a program driver.

The keys are grouped into six fields, three of them are the fields of functional keys, and two are for input and spire controlling. Five registers provides the work in 32 registers with 128 symbols in each. The key fields are colored and divided. There are 8 light diodes for signal from the program to the user.

For PC “Mabel” there were made blocks of direct input into the photo typing part of the device PA – 100 and photo receiving device “Paper-2”, that provides quality forma of office printing.

In PC Mabel there is a program controlling of power supply, because working places can be in different rooms and finishing the work a user can switch off only his/her device but not the whole station.

For working places the most important thing is the quality of text information demonstration that presents different symbols and their accentuation. So, for PC Mabel it was ordered a monochromes display with a diagonal of 50 cm and long term persistence. For symbol generation it was chosen a display scheme with support memory. The display had a vertical orientation of its long side.

But the scanning is kept according to the TV standard. The display is placed over the desk with the help of a holder. The angle and height of the display can be regulated.

System of information preparation

On the PC “Mabel” a professional system of electron preparation of polygraph publications of different kinds is realized. It provides the whole cycle of first text input before page-proof and giving ready photo forms sets.

The system is based on the division into text publication and polygraph organization. There are two levels of the text: the first one is formed with different elements of the publication. The access to it is through the title that has element features.

Polygraph organization is correspondent to kinds of publication elements and/or

marking in the text and also is represented with type rage structure. Text references are realized with pointers that included into the structures.

The dialogue development of a draft publication and its type rage page-proof is according to the title of editing and corrector of supported system of interconnected windows.

Print accentuation is represented with display prints, but the format of the types is according to the width of real type prints.

Technologies and means of electron publication preparation are developed with the help of text and its polygraph fulfillment dividing and opportunities of their separate processing. There is a joint usage of structure-reference text representing in the combination with text marking for effective global text processing; nomenclature of working places of different subdivisions of the publishing house and an opportunity of dynamic passing to the working process at one place to functions of different logical working places.

There is an opportunity to prepare publication combinations in different national languages in different writing languages in the frame work of one working place.






1.     A. A. Bers Informative-computing system Ruby of the “Pravda”// applying informatics methods, - Novosibirsk, 1980, pp. 55-78

2.     A. A. Bers Software of typography prints reproduction, - Novosibirsk, 1980, pp 51-80

3.     A.A. Bers, V.G. Polyakov, S.B. Rudnev about the system of high level programming with combined computing for personal microprocessor complexes// Urgent problems of architecture and software developing of computers and systems, Novosibirsk, 1983, pp. 78-94

4.     A.A. Bers, V.G. Polyakov architecture of multifunctional automation working place of a publishing house, Novosibirsk, 1984, pp. 40-49

5.     A.A. Bers, V.G. Polyakov The particularities of system software of multifunctional automation working place of a publishing house, - Novosibirsk, 1984, pp. 50-57

6.     A.A. Bers Workstation of a new generation -Mabel // Computer project of a new generation: architecture, programming, Novosibirsk, 1986, pp. 126-141

7.     A.A. Bers About object orientation and organization of program system architecture // Urgent problems of program technology, L., 1989, pp.4-15

8.     http://ershov.iis.nsk.su/russia/ texts, materials from archive of A.P. Ershov are available

-         system analyses of production process of “Pravda” issue, Novosibirsk, 1977

-         A.A. Bers The general scheme of informative-computing system Ruby , the “Pravda” developing, M., Novosibirsk, 1979