GDR History

Robotron – The familiar and the curious

The VEB Kombinat Robotron was known for the manufacture of various products for data processing and computer technology. In this blog, we'll show you some well-known, but also lesser-known products of the combine. (14 Feb 2023)

Robotron and Zentronik

The Robotron combine existed from 1969 until 1990. Within the framework of the »New Economic System of Management and Planning« introduced in 1963, the Robotron and Zentronik combines were formed from the »VVB Datenverarbeitungs- und Büromaschinen«. Almost 10 years later, these were finally merged into the VEB Kombinat Robotron. With its headquarters and main plant in Dresden, Robotron was responsible for the production of various data processing and computer technology products. Up to 70,000 employees produced an enormous variety of goods in many sub-operations. A large part of the production was exported.

The familiar...

The KC 85 Kleincomputer (small computer) appeared in various versions in the mid-1980s. The KC was manufactured at VEB Mikroelektronik »Wilhelm Pieck« Mühlhausen and sold under the Robotron umbrella brand. Although the computer was actually designed as a home computer, it could be found in private households as well as in educational and military institutions. The sales price of 3,900 marks, however, clearly inhibited its spread into private households.

The KC 85/3 was technologically impressive for its time. It had 16 KB memory and even offered a graphic resolution of 320 × 256 pixels, which was remarkable at the time. In addition, the device could be individually adapted to one's own requirements using various additional modules.

Robotron »Kleincomputer KC 85/3«

The RS 2510 radio was built by VEB Robotron Büromaschinenwerk »Ernst Thälmann« Sömmerda and appeared towards the end of the 1980s. The modern radio receiver was equipped with 16 station presets and LED display, and could be combined with other devices. The model was available in different housing colours.

Robotron »Radio set RS 2510«

...and the curious

Many GDR children would surely remember the popular toy »The Little Bead Artist«, which could be used to make colourful coasters, for example. The toy was manufactured at VEB Robotron-Elektronik Dresden, and a type 102 biscuit press was also manufactured at the VEB Robotron Büromaschinenwerk »Ernst Thälmann« Sömmerda. What seems strange today was common practice back then. In order to meet the demand for consumer goods, many companies were encouraged to produce quotas of consumer goods alongside their normal product line.

Robotron »the little bead artist«
Robotron »Pastry Press Type 102«

Robotron today...

Although most of the combine was dissolved over the course of German reunification, parts of it are still economically successful today. Recently, the DDR Museum has been using the »robotron*Daphne« programme from Robotron Datenbank-Software GmbH in Dresden to manage its object database.


Text by Rebecca Hall

More on this topic