Cuba has surprising talent and experience in the areas of electronics, computers, computer software and data processing. The country benefited from its association with the former Soviet Union, and some European countries, which turned out many skilled electrical and computer engineers, as well as technicians.

Cuba's electronic industry has its origins in the mid-1960s when the Ministry for Iron and Steel Machinery (SIME) began assembly of radios from imported parts. In 1974 SIME started producing black-and-white television sets. Then came a plant to produce batteries (1975), telephone switchboards (1981), and color television sets (1985). In 1985 SIME also started production of semiconductors.

In 1976 a separate electronics institute was created, the National Institute of Automated Systems and Computer Skills (INSAC). In 1994 INSAC was incorporated into the newly created Ministry of Steel, Heavy Machinery and Electronics. The Ministry of Communications is also responsible for small-scale production of certain electronics-related products.

The entity Cuba Electronica was created in January 1986 as part of the Foreign Trade Ministry. It is responsible for importing electronic equipment and exporting computers, peripherals, semiconductors and software.

An Irish expert says that the Cuban information-technology industry matches that of the Republic of Ireland, which has been particularly successful in persuading a range of information technology companies to establish their European base in Cuba.

One of the most advanced areas of the electronics industry in Cuba is production of medical equipment. The Central Institute for Digital Research(ICID) in collaboration with the Biotechnology Centers, has developed high technology medical equipment including the Cardiocid-M, an electrocardiographic system for diagnosing cardiovascular system diseases; Neorocid, an electromyographic and electro-neurographic system for diagnosing peripheric nervous system diseases, and various applications for high- technology genetic engineering research.

The main developments of Cuba's electronic industry occurred between 1975 and 1989. Among others:

  • Computer equipment plant, established in 1978, with a 4,300 square meters production area
  • Printed circuit board plant, established 1982, with a 4,900 square meters production area
  • Electronic modules production plant, with 4,000 square meters production area
  • Mechanical production plant, with 7,500 square meters production area
  • Monitors and television set plant, established in 1975, with an annual capacity of 100,000 units
  • Alphanumeric keyboards plant, established in 1988, equipped to produce keyboards compatible with IBM, DEC and other microcomputer systems. Production capacity of 250,000 units per year
  • Printed circuit boards plant, which can produce 35,000 square meters per year of circuit boards. It uses Betamax material and carries out the printing by serigraphy.
  • Electronic Research and Development Center, established in 1985.
  • Electronic Components Complex, (CCE), produces active and passive components, established in 1985.
  • Medical equipment complex, established in 1989. Produces instruments and equipment for the Biotechnology Centers.

Computing in Cuba dates back to the mid- 1950s when two first generation U.S. computers were installed. During the 1960s came computers from France, followed by Soviet and East- European systems. During the 1970s Cuba embarked on a program to develop its own second minicomputers based on Digital's PDP-11.

Most of Cuba's early computer specialists were trained in East Germany and the Soviet Union. In mid 1980s two main centers of computational research were established one at the CUJAE and the other at Universidad Central de Las Villas.

These are all facts.

Cuba has also developed computer networks. Presently, there are four networks with international connectivity: CENIAI, Tinored, CIGBnet, Infomed. CENIAI began networking in 1986, and has had a UUCP link to the Internet since 1992. They currently offer email, database access, and programming and consulting services. CIGBnet is the network of the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology. It began in 1991 and provides email, database access, a biological sequence server.

Since 1991,there has been a surplus of electrical and computer engineers in Cuba due to the closing of many industries. Many of these engineers changed their lines of work to the areas of telecommunications espionage and computer interference and disruption, in special centers created by the government.

A large group of them received specialized training in Russia, Vietnam, North Korea and China As a result, a significant engineering and technical staff is now dedicated to research, development and application on these areas

These are facts.

The beginning

Prior to the August 1991 coup attempt, the KGB was developing computer viruses with the intent of using them to disrupt computer systems in times of war or crisis. In early 1991, a highly restricted project was undertaken by a group within the Military Intelligence Directorate of Cuba's Ministry of the Armed Forces.

The group was instructed to obtain information to develop a computer virus to infect U.S. civilian computers. The group spent about $5,000 dollars to buy open-source data on computer networks, computer viruses, SATCOM, and related communications technology.

This is a fact. Declassified CIA document.


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