The first ternary computer
was built at Moscow State University
. Between 1956
about 50 Setun computers
were built, having been named after a river
near the campus by designers Nikolai P. Brusentsov
Setun was an 18-trit machine, allowing work on numbers up to 387,420,489; this is the equivalent of a 29-bit machine. Unfortunately, Setun used two magnetic cores wired together such that they would have only three stable states; this hardware inefficiency did not take advantage of the base 3 radix economy. A binary computer would have been able to use the same cores to build a 36-bit computer.