Olympia Calculators - Overview
The Olympia company was established in 1903 as a typewriter manufacturer. The company became very successful and by the late 1930s Olympia produced a wide range of high quality typewriters. Olympia’s main industrial base in Erfut was extensively damaged in World War 2 and after the war Erfut was in East Germany. Many Olympia employees escaped to the West and established a new operation at Wilhelmshaven.
The Wilhelmshaven operation prospered and then diversified into office equipment. The Brunsviga mechanical calculator company was acquired by Olympia in the 1960s although at that time this business was being threatened by the development of electronic calculators. Olympia seems to have recognised this threat and responded actively and at an early stage, unlike other established calculator companies who were overtaken by the rise of electronic technology.
The Olympia RAE 4 / 15 was introduced in 1964 and is one of the first solid-state electronic calculators, belonging in the special group of the IME 84, the Mathatron, the Friden EC-130 and the Wang LOCI-1. It is a pity that nothing is known of the designer(s) of the RAE machines and the circumstances that led to their development.
The RAE series all-transistor machines were quite rapidly overtaken by second-generation integrated circuit designs. Olympia appears not to have continued in-house development of second or later generation calculators, perhaps due to the absence of a strong European microelectronics industry that could produce the necessary integrated circuits. All of Olympia’s later machines were produced under OEM arrangements with Japanese manufacturers, particularly Matsushita (now Panasonic). Some information suggests that Olympia may have produced electronic calculators at Leer in Germany and Belfast in Ireland but it is unknown which machines and under what arrangements.
Olympia carried on through the 1970s shake-out of the calculator business and remained in the calculator, office machine and typewriter business right through the 1980s. By the early 1990s the mechanical typewriter and office machine businesses had become unprofitable and this led to the breakup of the Olympia group. Parts of the business survived and continued as distributors and resellers of office equipment. The Olympia Website was active until 2015 but by 2017 had become defunct.
Olympia RAE 4 / 15 Calculator
It was probably introduced to the market in 1964 and as such it belongs in the “first electronic calculator” group with IME 84, the Mathatron, the Friden EC-130, the Wang LOCI-1 and the Olivetti P101.
Olympia RAE 4 / 30-2 Calculator
It is a further development of the RAE 4 / 15 above but changes are minor.
Olympia ICR-412 Calculator
The ICR 412 is actually a Japanese machine by Matsushita, acting as an OEM for Olympia. The design is presumed to be Japanese but the ICs are American, by Philco. This probably dates the design development to the period in the late 1960s when Japanese microelectronic manufacturing was lagging behind the US.
Olympia does not appear to have developed any further machines in-house after the RAE series above. All further machines were obtained under OEM arrangements from other manufacturers, typically in Japan.
Olympia CD-400 Calculator
It appears to be a further development of the ICR-412, also by Matsushita and using the same architecture and components.