ESER 1055 – A computer centre from Dresden

The practically complete 1970s style computer centre on display in the exhibition combines several different aspects. The ESER 1055, made by Robotron in Dresden, stands for the development of computers in what was formerly East Germany. It also illustrates the interlinked development and manufacture of computer systems in the COMECON states of eastern Europe. Furthermore, this system documents a period of 30 years of computer history - from the presentation of IBM's System/360 in 1964 until the IBM-compatible system shown here was shut down in 1994.

IBM compatible 

Central data processing on the basis of punched cards already had a name in the 1970s: IBM System/360 or System/370. Programming and operating were basically the same whether in computer centres for small businesses or on high-performance computers. This cross-system architecture was a concept that originated not from technical considerations but from a farsighted marketing department.

The success of these models was considerable. At an early stage, IBM's competitors found they were compelled to offer IBM-compatible machines, which emulated the functionality of IBM machines. The /360 architecture had become a world standard within ten years.

For the countries in the Eastern bloc, this situation at the beginning of the 1980s was the reason for gearing the new ESER line (Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen), a standardized electronic data processing system, to the IBM System 370/155. The system was produced on the basis of cross-border cooperation. The processor was developed in parallel in the Soviet Union and at Robotron in Dresden. Tape drives, for example, came from Zeiss in Jena, printers, punched cards and punched tape equipment from Czechoslovakia and Poland, and magnetic disks from Bulgaria.

ESER systems were still in operation in eastern Germany up to 1995. A film shows the history and use of the ESER 1056 system in Mukran on the island of Rügen. This system was decommissioned in 1995.