Robotron Bürotechnik Karl-Marx-Stadt
THE ABANDONED FACTORY IN GERMANY
‘VEB Kombinat Robotron’ was the biggest East German electronics manufacturer. It was based in Dresden and Karl-Marx-Stadt and employed 68 thousand people in 1989. The company consisted of several factories and divisions like this ‘Robotron Bürotechnik’ in Karl-Marx-Stadt (Chemnitz).
The history of this site at the Zwickauer-Strasse goes all the way back to 1885 when the bicycle factory ‘Chemnitzer Velociped-Fabrik Winklhofer & Jaenicke’ moved here. They made Wanderer bicycles. In 1903 production stagnates, as a result the factory started to produce typewriters and changed its name to Wanderer Werke. In 1912 and 1921 new buildings were built on the factory site.
During the Second World War the factory switched to the production of gyrocompasses, ignition coils, encryption devices like the legendary Enigma and submachine guns. As a result the plant survived the War without any problem. But the Soviet occupying forces dismantled the factory.
In 1957 part of the buildings were bought by computer factory ‘VEB Elektronische Rechenmaschinen’ or ‘ELREMA’. Eventually in 1969 ELREMA was dissolved and incorporated into the Robotron Group. The name was made up of the words robots and electronics. The newly founded company emerged from the merger of several electronics and IT manufacturing companies.
Computers and turntables
‘Robotron Bürotechnik’ produced personal computers, for example the SM EVM minicomputers and the ESER mainframe computers. But also several computer related hardware products as well as radios and television sets. For example the radio-turntable combinations ‘Stereo Set 4000’ and ‘Stereo Set 4001’ were produced here.
On 30 June 1990 the Kombinat Robotron was liquidated and the divisions were converted into different small companies. Later in the 1990s these companies were taken over by Siemens and IBM. These buildings were used for another couple of years by the ‘Bürotechnik Chemnitz GmbH’, until the factory closed its doors for good in 1995. I visited the factory in 2009 en 2013.