J20. Computers Behind the Iron Curtain

For a short period of time, East Germany was a market leader in computer office machines. VEB Buchungsmaschinenwerk Karl-Marx Stadt built the Ascota 170 computer. 332,742 of the machines were sold, including many of them exported to the West. The computer was sold in 101 countries. The first prototype was created in 1953 and production continued from 1955 through 1983, always with various additions and components. The mid-1960’s represented the height of East Germany’s role in the international computer market.

This album is of the Buerotechnica Leipzig Fair of 1965 (or 1966). The Ascota 170 with the recent TM20 addition (which allowed for multiplication functions) is presented to the attendees. In addition to Ascota machines, Büromaschinenwerk Sömmenda is represented in the album (the leading manufacturer of computers in East Germany).

Machine demonstrations were generally by women, surrounded by male fair attendees in sharp dark suits and skinny ties. The latter half of the album depicts attendees and (presumably) exhibitors networking at dinner and after-dinner drinks. An interesting insight into the history of computers behind the Iron Curtain and East Germany’s effort to sell those systems worldwide.

[BUEROTECHNICA LEIPZIGER MESSE]. Leipzig: n.p., 1965 (or 1966). 230 by 320mm (9 by 12½ inches). Cord bound faux leather album; [28] lvs. with tissue guards. 26 full page silver gelatin photographs measuring 7 by 9 ½ inches. Complete. Very Good plus to Near Fine.


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