January 16th, 2011

Robotron was the East German state computer manufacturer. By the time the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, it employed 68,000 people and was churning out communist computers from its headquarters in Dresden for much of the eastern bloc and for export around the world (via ESER), branded with this fantastic retro-futurist logo:

Robotron logo

Robotron’s product range included  personal computers like the sludge-coloured K 8915:

Robotron 8915

And the hi-tech Robotron KC-87:

Robotron KC 87

The company also made calculators, typewriters, disk drives, printers and other electronic equipment.

After German reunification in 1990, the Robotron group was split into pieces and sold off, and the company’s communist-era equipment is mainly kept alive by groups of hobbyists and enthusiasts. Today, the successor company is a comparatively small data-management software business, still based in Dresden.

In May 1986, the Robotron factory in Sömmerda was visited by East German head of state Erich Honecker, and the company produced a promotional documentary around the event, Besuch in Sömmerda (A Visit to Sömmerda), which revelled in soft pro-government propaganda and awesome mid-80s saxophone:

The company seems to have had an appetite for promotional trinkets, including ashtrays, medallions, stamps, calendars, and more. Most curious of these, perhaps, is a schnapps glass with the Robotron logo on it, accompanied by an illustration that looks like a slightly complex take on the Reddit alien:

Robotron promotional schnapps glass and Reddit alien

So, did today’s link-aggregating web behemoth get their logo from a computer company from behind the iron curtain?

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