Rare Robotron and RFT computers

<several corrections and one update have been done until today, 19.03.2009>

Finally had some time to start looking into the German Democratic Republic (GDR) side of rare small computers.

I wanted to write “rare home computers”, but that was not the reality in the GDR at that time. Although there was a number of computer models aimed at the professional market, the availability was so restricted  and the cost of these models was so high that the state (you remember that the GDR was a Planned Economy state where most manufacturers were owned by the state and where the available products were determined by a state planning organization and then manufactured according to a some years-in-advance-plan? Well, in addition, western technology was mostly available if they managed to re-produce it themselves…) decided that the resulting home computers should be used by small companies who needed such stuff to write receipts and so on. So we consider only computers that would have been home computers in the western world if they would have been available there (and so were in fact exported) and if they would have been offered two years earlier…

There are a number of very good web sites on GDR computers, some written by very knowledgeable engineers, some of which had even worked at the corresponding manufacturers. As often in the world when web sites are about computers that have been sold only in one country, most use the local language (in this case German). For further reading, why not considering these sites:

As far as I can tell the following models are rare:

  • Robotron A5105: 3000 devices have been produced
  • Alba PC 1505 (which was intended to the export version of the A5105, but was then mainly sold in the GDR): 2000 devices have been produced.
  • RFT KC Compact (a CPC clone): It is not known how many have been produced, but given the fact that the production time was very short, that only a few exist even in collections, and that the only serial number I know of is 1953, most probably not many have been produced.
  • Robotron Z9001: produced between September 1984 and February 1985 somewhere in 1986
  • Robotron KC85/1 (renamed Z9001): produced between March 1985somewhere in 1986 and March 1987
  • Robotron KC87 (the successor of the KC85/1): produced between April 1987 and March 1989

Z9001, KC85/1 and KC87 together had a production volume of about 30000 units. If  we therefore divide (because we do not have other numbers) this overall number by the number of production months, we get the following approximation:

  • Z9001:  ~ 4000 (the highest serial number I know of is 3249)
  • KC85/1: ~ 9000 (the highest serial number I know of is 2076)
  • KC87: ~ 17000 (the highest serial number I know of is 9576)

I took the serial numbers from this thread in a forum. The Robotron devices seem to use a numbering scheme where the first digit was the 8x production year.

After some very interesting discussion in this thread, I believe that the numbers of these three models are distributed more like this:

  • Z9001:  some 10000 devices
  • KC85/1:  some 3000 devices
  • KC87:  some 20000 devices

I added all of them to my Ebay price list so I can start monitor their prices.

Apart from the above models, also the RFT KC85/2, RFT KC85/3, and RFT KC85/4 models exist. About 30000 of each of these models shall have been produced with the highest serial numbers known as 7660, 31606, 34676, respectively. Now, also 30000 is rare according to my 100000 devices criteria, but I’m hesitating adding also these models. Let’s see, may be later on…

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