Robotron Kc 87

Posted : admin On 1/25/2022
VEB Kombinat Robotron
Volkseigener Betrieb
IndustryElectronics manufacturer, computer software
FateLiquidated / converted into corporations
Founded1 April 1969; 51 years ago in Dresden, German Democratic Republic
Defunct1 July 1990
Key people
Friedrich Wokurka
ProductsA 5120, PC 1715, Robotron K 1840, Robotron KC 87, …
68,000 (1989)

VEB Kombinat Robotron[needs IPA] (or simply Robotron) was the biggest East German electronics manufacturer. It was based in Dresden and employed 68,000 people (1989). It produced personal computers, SM EVMminicomputers, the ESERmainframe computers, several computer peripherals as well as home computers, radios and television sets.


The following systems are currently supported: ABC 80 AVR-ChipBasic2 (rewritten in BASIC) Bandai RX-78 Bit-90 Casio FP-1100 Casio PV-1000 Casio PV-2000 ColecoVision Dick Smith Super-80 (e/m and r/v models, separate RGB colour versions for the m and v models) Epson QX-10 / QC-10 Excalibur 64 Exidy Sorcerer Galaksija Plus (separate text mode. The KC 87 was a better KC 85/1 with BASIC also in ROM. There was a color option (the 85/1 was only monochrome), but no real graphics apart from ROM pseudographic characters. The wiring diagrams were openly available and there were also a lot of different (and often home-made) schemes. パソコンRobotron KC 87(1987年) パソコン Robotron A 7100 と EC 1834 ( IBM XT の互換機)(1986年) ミニコン Robotron RVS K 1840 ( COMECON 内では SM 1710 とのコードネームで呼ばれた。. ROBOTRON: 1984 Robotron KC 85/3. Robotron KC 85/4: 1987 Robotron KC 87. The Robotron KC 87 is a 8-bit computer from East Germany released in 1987. The KC in the name stands for German word Kleincomputer on English Small Computer. The KC 87 used an U880 microprocessor, a clone of the Zilog Z80 clocked at 2.5 MHz, 16 KB of RAM memory, 16 KB ROM and running KC-BASIC.


One of the 17,000 workers at the Kombinat Robotron in the German Democratic Republic in 1987 working during the weekend to produce typewriters
A worker at an assembly plant producing the ES 2655 mainframe.

Robotron managed several different divisions:

  • VEB Robotron-Elektronik Dresden (headquarters) — typewriters, personal computers, minicomputers, mainframes
  • VEB Robotron-Meßelektronik Dresden — measurement and testing devices, home computers
  • VEB Robotron-Projekt Dresden — software department
  • VEB Robotron-Buchungsmaschinenwerk Karl-Marx-Stadt — personal computers, floppy disk drives
  • VEB Robotron-Elektronik Hoyerswerda — monitors, power supply units
  • VEB Robotron-Elektronik Radeberg — mainframes, radio receivers, portable television receivers, directional radio systems
  • VEB Robotron Vertrieb Dresden, Berlin and Erfurt — sales departments
  • VEB Robotron-Elektronik Zella-Mehlis — computer terminals, hard disk drives
  • VEB Robotron-Büromaschinenwerk Sömmerda — personal computers, printers, electronic calculators (Soemtron 220, 222, 224), invoicing machines (EFA 380), punched card indexers and sorters (Soemtron 432).
  • VEB Robotron Elektronik Riesa — printed circuit boards
  • VEB Robotron-Anlagenbau Leipzig — general contractor, design and assembly for computer and process calculation systems in the GDR and export, training center

On 30 June 1990 the Kombinat Robotron was liquidated and the divisions were converted into corporations. In the 1990s these companies were sold, e.g., to Siemens Nixdorf, or also liquidated.

Robotron Datenbank-Software GmbH is a company which emerged from one of the former divisions of Kombinat Robotron It was newly founded on 23 August 1990, just before German reunification.

Rebranding activities[edit]

Robotron printers were sold in Western Germany as 'Soemtron' or 'Präsident', and the West German branch of Commodore used some Robotron parts for their printers.

In East Germany, Epson printers were sold under the Robotron brand (but the technical description on the back side was with the 'Epson' logo).

Robotron computers and typewriters[edit]

  • Robotron A 5120 office computer, 1982

  • Robotron KC 87 home computer, 1987

  • Robotron A 7100 and EC 1834 (XT-compatible) personal computer, 1986

  • Robotron RVS K 1840 (SM 1710), DEC VAX-11/780 Clone, 1988, recorded in the Technical Collections Dresden

  • A Robotron 204 electric typewriter from the 1980s

  • VEB Robotron K8911

  • Robotron calculator with a printer

Robotron Kc 87

See also[edit]

Robotron Kc 87
  • Single User Control Program (SCP)
  • Disk Control Program (DCP)


External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Robotron.
  • — The History of Robotron narrated by former staff members. German language site.
  • — On-line generalised list of computers including Robotron. German language site.
  • — On-line museum of Robotron companies and products. German language site with some English translations.
  • — Technical data for the Soemtron 22x series (220, 222, 224) desktop calculators manufactured by VEB Robotron Büromaschinenwerk Sömmerda.
  • Typewriter 'Erika' — DDR Museum, Berlin
  • Company History — Company History Robotron Radeberg.
Retrieved from ''


The KC 85 ('KC' meaning 'Kleincomputer', or 'small computer') were models of microcomputers built in East Germany, first in 1984 by Robotron (the KC 85/1) and later by VEB Mikroelektronik 'Wilhelm Pieck' Mühlhausen (KC 85/2, KC 85/3 and KC 85/4).

Due to huge demand by industrial, educational as well as military institutions, KC 85 systems were virtually not available for sale to smaller customers.

They were based on the U880 CPU (an East German clone of the Z80), with clock speeds of 1.75 and 2 MHz.

There were two main lines in the KC 85 series, the KC 85/2 (project name HC 900) to /4 and the KC 85/1 (project name Z 9001) by Robotron, which was a different system (only the CPU and the name were the same, but later the format of saving the programs on tape cassettes and the BASIC were also made compatible). In 1989, VEB Mikroelektronik Mühlhausen came up with the KC compact, but due to the GDR collapse very few units got actually produced and sold and — being a CPC clone — it was a KC in name only; thus it is usually not counted among the KC family.

Unlike the Pravetz series 8 personal computers, manufactured in Bulgaria, which were equipped with decent dedicated displays, floppy discs and good quality keyboards, the entire series used a TV set for a monitor (by standard TV-HF via coaxial cable, FBAS (roughly composite video) or RGB) and a standard tape recorder as data storage. The keyboards were of low quality. The KC 85/1 used an integrated calculator-style keyboard with small 'keys' of hard plastics, while KC 85/2-4 used a separate keyboard driven by a remote control IC.

The KC 85/2 was the first computer made in Mühlhausen and had only font ROMs for capital letters, and no BASIC in ROM. Then, the KC 85/3 was introduced and this one had a BASIC interpreter in ROM, freeing the user from having to load the BASIC interpreter from a cassette every time. Both systems typically had 16 KB of RAM, but could be expanded with add-on modules. (The module sockets feature prominently on photos, as they occupy the upper 50% of the casing nearly completely.) The KC 85/4 had 64 KB of RAM (not counting the luxurious video ram of more than 40 KB) and better graphics capabilities.

Robotron Kc 87 Oldsmobile

All KC-series computers from Mühlhausen were able to display graphics at a resolution of 320×256 pixels. But the color possibilities were not that good (each 4×8-pixel cell had a single foreground (out of 16) and background color (out of 8, slightly darker than foreground equivalents). This limitation was brought down to 1×8 on the KC 85/4, which also featured a reasonable video RAM addressing mode and a special 4-color mode which could color every pixel independently. The colors were not paletted in any KC before the KC compact. There was no 'text mode', everything had to be painted; this and the awkward video RAM layout and suboptimal ROM code made the KC 85/2-3 rather slow at printing and scrolling (improved very much on KC 85/4). There were no blitters, and the video subsystem was hand-brewed (the KC compact used a 6845 as the CPC did of course). Sound and tape output was implemented by CTC channels driving flipflops. Memory bank-switching was common since the total address space was only 64 KB. When running Mühlhausen's BASIC, the video RAM (at 0x8000) was banked in only during video operations, thus the maximum BASIC free RAM was about 47 KB instead of 32 KB. The module extension system also used bank-switching and made it theoretically possible to extend to megabytes of RAM (even more modules could be used by adding expansion devices, yielding sort of a tower), however neither BASIC nor most of the applications were prepared to use this as free space.

Robotron Kc 87 Spiele

The KC 87 was a better KC 85/1 with BASIC also in ROM. There was a color option (the 85/1 was only monochrome), but no real graphics apart from ROM pseudographic characters.

The wiring diagrams were openly available and there were also a lot of different (and often home-made) schemes and hardware parts. Various magazines published programs and hardware diagrams and also instructions on how to build them.