Olivetti & Calculator's design


The Olivetti company was founded by electrical engineer Camillo Olivetti in 1908. He established a factory in his home town of Ivrea in northern Italy, and initially produced a range of typewriters to his own design. As the business expanded in the 1920s and 30s the company established branches in Spain and in several South American countries. A very successful range of mechanical printing calculators was added during the reconstruction period following the 1939-45 war. Olivetti opened its first overseas manufacturing plant in 1930, and its Divisumma electric calculator was launched in 1948. Olivetti produced Italy's first electronic computer, the transistorised Elea 9003, in 1959, and purchased the Underwood Typewriter Company that year. In 1964 the company sold its electronics division to the American company General Electric (source : John Wolff).

It continued to develop new computing products on its own; one of these was Programma 101, the first commercially-produced personal computer.

More informations at the official Olivetti history site : Storia Olivetti


The Olivetti company always paid great attention to the aesthetic design of its products, with engineers working alongside noted artists, architects, and industrial designers. Engineer Natale Capellaro developed the basic mechanism of the Olivetti calculator in the late 1940s, while architect Marcello Nizzoli designed the cases and external details (like the classic Divisumma 24 mechanical calculator).

Several of Olivetti's products are now regarded as classics of modern art. Some Divisumma and Logos calculators are exposed in the New-Yorker Modern Art Museum (MoMA).

Logos 80, Summa 19, Divisumma 28 and Divisumma 18 at MoMA



Olivetti machines from the 60s and 70s were crafted by well-known industrial designers including Ettore Sottsass and Mario Bellini.

Marcello Nizzoli (1887 - 1969)

MC 4M Multisumma (1941)

Summa 15 (1949)

Divisumma 24 (1956)


Mario Bellini (1935-)

Programma 101 (1965) 

TCV 250 (1966)  

P 203 (1967)

Logos 240 (1971)

Logos 58 (1973)

Divisumma 18 (1973)

Divisumma 28 (1973)

Divisumma 33 (1977)

Logos 40 (1977)

Logos 7 (1978)

Logos 41

Logos 80 (1978)

Logos 9 (1980)

Ettore Sottsass (1917 - 2007)

Electrosumma 23 (1966)

Divisumma 26GT (1967)

Summa 19 (1970)



During the 1960s and 1970s Olivetti's shops ware designed like art objects.
Here are some exemples from around the world :

Shop in 1950

Shop in 1960




Paris, 1967



After World War II, Olivetti's quality office machines and distinctive advertising graphics helped establish Italy’s reputation as the cradle of modern design. The company's graphic designers, architects, artists, writers, and advertising experts took an active part in the design of not only the company’s products and advertisements, but also the visual appearance of its showrooms and corporate architecture.

You can find more advertising (including typewriters) on the
Graphic Design for Olivetti and the ninonbook galleries

(c) epocalc 2013