1946 - 1960s
Erfurt, Thuringa, East Germany
The Optima Elite was designed Johannes Krüger in 1932 though it's almost identical to the Olympia Elite. That's not a coincidence. Olympia actually owned and produced the Elite model until 1948. Optima Office Machine Works wasn't formed until a court ordered the Olympia company to be split up after WWII. The International Court of Appeals in The Hague allowed Olympia to produce typewriters under the Olympia brand in West Germany and, in Soviet Occupied Erfurt in East Germany, where the Optima factory was based, Optima was allowed to produce the same product but under the Optima brand.
Optima made the version of the Elite at the top and bottom of this page for a few years longer than Olympia in order to control costs by extending the life of the tooling. The company also required more time to rebuild after WWII and to work through the newly imposed trade restrictions.
Eventually Optima grew into its own and did quite well, even redesigning Elite into a more streamlined portable typewriter. Olympia's influence, however, was never fully shed. Note that the Optima still resembles the Olympia SM5 but with a more robust form and with more rounded corners. Maybe the similarities are just a result of both brands having been German engineered so maybe geography played an influence role.
All Optimas function just as any modern manual typewriter does. They're equippted with a frontsrike typebar arrangement, a standard 4-bank keyboard, ribbon inking and any other basic feature. Construction is of pressed steel with a rubber platen and plastic keytops. The original Elite models were finished with a matte paint while the subsequent ones were smooth.
At Optima's zenith, in the 1960s, the company employed almost 7,000 employees. In 1978 the company was purchased by Kombinates Robotron and renamed to Robotron-Optima Office Machine Works. Over the next few decades the company was bought, sold, renamed and downsized several times until all manufacturing was sold and moved to Mexico. The number of employees in Erfurt, Germany dwindled from to 250 in the 1990s, and, by 2014, there were just three employees left. They were selling office equipment and office furniture under the Optima brand. In the end, all of the actual production was done outside of Germany.
Need a manual for your Optima Elite? Get it here...