Robotron CM 1910 - a computer from the past

    VEB Kombinat Robotron

    In 1969, the “People's Enterprise” VEB Kombinat Robotron was created in the German Democratic Republic, producing a wide range of equipment - from typewriters and radios to personal computers and mainframes. Computers produced by the German Democratic Republic successfully dispersed in the CMEA countries, including the USSR, where they worked in various research institutes and design bureaus.

    I would like to talk about one such “workaholic”.


    Everyone who is interested, welcome to habrakat (carefully, the angry cat has a lot of pictures).

    This device was first introduced to honest people in the spring of 1988 at the Leipzig Fair, and had the simple name Robotron A7150 (aka SM1910, aka CM1910 - version for the USSR).

    Unlike previous computers manufactured by VEB Kombinat Robotron, the CM1910 model had a 20 MB hard drive (much less often - 40 MB), 512 KB RAM, a 16-bit Siemens SAB8086-P processor with a clock frequency of 4.9 MHz (clone of the Intel 8086 microprocessor ) and a co-processor 8087. The possibility of installing a second hard drive was also planned - the computer had a free internal 5 ”bay and an unsoldered interface for another hard drive.

    The price of Robotron CM 1910 in 1988 was 56873 German marks, a year later it dropped to 43969 marks, and in early 1990 this computer could be bought for 36,000 marks.

    However, the Robotron CM 1910 computer did not get a second hard drive, and other plans of the VEB Kombinat Robotron enterprise did not materialize. On June 30, 1990, Kombinat Robotron was liquidated, and its units were transformed into joint-stock companies, which were also subsequently liquidated or sold.

    There are no more enterprises, but computers remain.

    One copy of the Robotron CM1910 computer in the zero years migrated from a scientific institute to the previous owner, who saved him from the inevitable fate of being in the hands of scrap metal collectors. But years passed, computers became hundreds of times faster, and the old Robotron began to take up too much space. Yeah, like in an advertisement.

    And finally, the computer came to me.




    Computer Robotron CM1910 is equipped with a black and green 12 inch CRT monitor, the appearance of which is quite canonical. On the front of the monitor case, just below the cathode ray tube screen, is a power indicator light and a brightness adjustment knob.


    On the back of the case is a power on toggle switch, a connector for connecting a power cable and a pair of fuses. The housing cover is made of metal (apparently for better shielding the user from x-ray radiation) and has ventilation holes.



    The keyboard is quite different from the standard one: the CTRL and ESC buttons are located in a very unusual place, instead of the right ALT key is the CL button. The function keys PF1-PF12 were shifted three buttons to the right, and now some of them are located at the place where the INS, Home and PageUp keys are located on the regular keyboard.


    There are twice as many LED indicators - three are usually located above the numeric keypad, and three more are above the ALT1, ^ S and MOD 2 keys, exactly at the place where the familiar F1-F3 buttons should have been located. Keyboard Connector - Male DB9. Case material - plastic.

    System unit.


    The appearance of the system unit is practically no different from the usual IBM PC of that time. The computer case Robotron CM1910 is made of solid metal, and the front panel, slightly yellowed from time to time, is made of plastic. On the front of the case are two 5.25 “720Kb drives, a Reset button and LEDs HD, RUN, HALT and PWR ON. The side walls of the housing have air vents.


    Almost all interface connectors, as well as the power button, are located on the back of the system unit. The keyboard and graphic tablet connector are displayed on the left side wall of the case for convenience.

    It should be noted that the system unit is quite heavy, its approximate weight is 22 kilograms.

    Inside the system unit

    After much thought about whether to take photos of a disassembled monitor and keyboard, it was decided that the interiors of these devices are not of interest. In fact, we have before us the most ordinary monochrome CRT monitor, with a high voltage inside, and a completely ordinary keyboard with a Soviet microcircuit under the case.

    But the inner world of the Robotron CM1910 system unit is quite different from the stuffing of the IBM PC, so it deserves special attention.

    So let's get started.


    We unscrew the four screws on each side on the back of the case, remove the back panel. We extend the side walls of the housing and, finally, remove the top cover.

    Unscrewing four more screws on the sides, remove the front panel, after disconnecting the cable going to it.


    In the foreground (from left to right):


    HDD block of two 5.25 ”720Kb MFM drives, a 20 MB Robotron K5504.20 hard drive.

    Two power supplies. A large power supply supplies hard drives and drives along the +12 V line.
    I don’t know the purpose of the small PSU, but I can say for sure that there is a fan right behind it.

    The fan, by the way, is powered by a voltage of 220 volts and practically does not make noise.

    Below, under the drives, there are three slots for MMS16 modules, two of which are occupied by hard disk and drive controllers. The first slot is free, closed with an iron plug.

    In the background are the MMS16 modules installed in the slots (7 pieces) and the third 400W power supply unit, which feeds the module boards and hard drives along the +5 V.

    The motherboard, as such, is missing. All the main components of the computer (except power supplies) are interconnected using the MMS16 bus.


    Each module has its own alphanumeric designation in the documentation and performs the following functions:


    ABG K7075 - a video card compatible with the CGA standard. It is formed by a sandwich of two printed circuit boards interconnected by a connector.

    KGS K7070 - keyboard controller (IFSS) and graphics tablet (V.24). The keyboard and graphic tablet connectors on the left side of the computer are connected to this controller using a cable inside the case.

    KES K5170 - subsystem for hard drives and floppy disks Robotron CM1910.

    OPS K3571- 256 KB of RAM. Two pieces.

    ZVE K2771 is a module with a Siemens SAB8086-P processor and an 8087 coprocessor installed. It also has the Centronics, IFSS (current loop) interface connectors and a connector for connecting the board on the front panel of the case.

    ASP K8071 - controller of ports V.24 (Com Port), IFSS (current loop) and IFSP (radial parallel interface, not fully compatible with LPT).

    AFS K5171 - the controller of drives on floppy magnetic disks (HDD).

    AFP K5172 - hard disk controller (HDD).

    Robotron CM1910 has support for four different types of interfaces, namely: Centronics, V.24, IFSP, IFSS. The Centronics interface is a well-known parallel port, V.24 is a serial Com port, but the IFSP and IFSS interfaces deserve special attention.

    The IFSP interface is the so-called radial parallel interface used in many printers and computers manufactured in the CMEA countries. Allowed to use long connecting cables; Centronics is not fully compatible.

    IFSS Interface(current loop) - an interface designed to transmit information using measured values ​​of electric current. The IFSS interface was used to transmit data over significant distances (up to several kilometers). It was widely used in computers manufactured in the USSR and CMEA countries until the 1990s.

    Despite the fact that the computer has standardized Centronics and V.24 interfaces, it is not possible to use them without modifying the connecting cables.

    As you know, the standard LPT port of any IBM compatible computer has a “mother” type connector, and the standard (albeit DB25) COM port has a “male” connector. For a Robotron CM1910 computer, these connectors are made exactly the opposite, and the mating part of the standard printer or mouse connecting cable will simply not fit physically there.

    However, after soldering the connectors, we have the opportunity to connect the printer and mouse to the Robotron CM1910 computer.

    But everything is good and smooth only in theory, but in practice it turned out quite the opposite:

    1. Mouse

    Source of the photo:

    A mouse for a Robotron CM1910 computer is needed not with the usual DB9 "Female", but with a 25-pin connector. Yes, and "Male." Only an ordinary rodent from Genius was available, but this, in principle, is not fatal.


    We take the old cable from the printer, unsolder the desired connector, look at the signal specification and make our mouse a new tail. We download the driver under DOS, connect the mouse, run gmouse.exe and ... did not take off.

    The question arose, do Com ports work at all? This can be easily checked using the CheckIt diagnostic program and here is such a simple test plug:


    Solder, run the program and ... the test failed both V.24 ports.

    It should be noted that in this case it is impossible to speak with confidence about the physical malfunction of serial interfaces. It’s possible that I just have crooked hands. Or the fault is the incomplete compatibility of the Robotron CM1910 computer with a regular IBM PC - port addresses and interrupts may differ from the standard ones, and CheckIt should not be trusted (especially since it did not correctly identify the drives). However, I could not confirm or refute this theory, since the available documentation on this computer is written in German. I speak this language at the level of the Soviet partisan from the hinterland, and I did not want to do OCR to feed the text to the Google translator later because of the lack of free time.

    2. The printer

    The situation with the printer is ambiguous. Theoretically, the Centronics interface is standardized, but it is possible that the Robotron CM1910 has a non-standard connector pinout. I could not find any information about this in the documentation, so I had to abandon the idea of ​​screwing my existing EPSON LX-100 matrix printer to the Robotron CM1910 computer.

    With the iron part over, proceed to the software.

    Operating system

    The following operating systems could be installed on the Robotron CM1910 computer:

    DCP1700 - a clone of the MS-DOS 3.2 operating system. The most common OS on Robotron CM1910.
    SCP1700 is an operating system compatible with CP / M86.
    MUTOS1700 is one of the UNIX clones.
    BOS1810- multitasking real-time operating system.

    When using some programs written under DOS, problems often occurred because the Robotron CM1910 was not fully compatible with the IBM PC hardware. Nevertheless, after a little refinement of the drivers and connecting a computer mouse, it was even possible to run Microsoft Windows 3.0.

    Unfortunately, I could not find the distribution kit Karl-Marx-Städter Window-System (this is what the version of Microsoft Windows 3.0 finalized in the German Democratic Republic was called), so I have to be content with photos taken on the Internet.

    Photo source:

    It is not strange that one of the first programs that I had to use on the Robotron CM1910 computer was the MWINCH utility, designed to create and format partitions on a hard disk.


    The thing is that this computer has a Robotron K5504.20 MFM hard drive without the auto-parking function of magnetic heads. Before shutting down the computer with such a hard disk, you must execute the parking command (park, hdpark and the like), otherwise you can damage not only the information recorded on the hard disk, but also the hard disk itself.

    Unfortunately, there was nothing similar to the park command on the hard drive, and I had to turn off the computer bypassing the HDD parking procedure, which I had to pay for soon - after another incorrect shutdown, the operating system stopped loading.

    Well, he broke it himself, and he will have to repair it.

    To do this, I had to get a 5.25 "drive from the bins of the Motherland and some floppy disks for it. I also needed a computer with Windows 98, which could make friends with the mentioned drive. We downloaded the

    image of the DCP 3.3 boot diskette , and the Teledisk program , with which this image would be restored to a five-inch diskette. We

    boot from the diskette, create partitions using mwinch.exe and format the hard disk with the command format c: / s(with the / s switch, we tell the format utility to transfer the system files from the floppy disk to the hard drive). For complete happiness, copy autoexec.bat and config.sys from the floppy disk to the root of the C: drive, and the remaining files to a directory (for example, C: \ DCP-DOS).

    The operating system is installed. Profit!

    It remains only to install and run several programs of that time to assess the huge potential of the 8086 processor.

    CheckIt will show us what the Robotron has under the hood.

    RAR archiver

    The same Tetris

    Pipeline Pascacal 5.5

    Volkov Commander

    And of course, do not forget about the park!

    And for those who do not have enough photos of the Robotron CM 1910 computer, the video in disgusting quality is stocked up.

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