Cold War–era computing has a poor reputation. The picture is one of a landscape littered with uninspired attempts to copy American IBM PCs, British ZX Spectrums, and other Western computers. But then there was Yugoslavia’s Galaksija, a very inspired bid to put a computer into the hands of regular comrades.
The Galaksija is a Z80-based, 8-bit DIY machine, cleverly designed so that its bill of materials meshed exactly with what a Yugoslavian was able to import from Western Europe. During its brief heyday, thousands were built, leading to commercially assembled Galaksijas finding their way into homes and schools across the country. And now you can try this scrappy machine for yourself.
There’s a huge world of computing to discover in former USSR countries, former USSR satellite states, and other countries that delicately straddled the west and east such as former Yugoslavia, many of which most people in the west have never heard of. While many of them may not have been competitive with what the Americans and Europeans were building, that doesn’t mean they’re not interesting or that there’s nothing to learn from the approaches the engineers took.