Olivetti S.p.A.
Ivrea, Italy

The Olivetti company was founded by electrical engineer Camillo Olivetti (1868-1943) in 1908. The 40-year-old Olivetti 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. It continued to develop new computing products on its own; one of these was Programma 101, the first commercially-produced personal computer.

The company had several changes of ownership and direction during the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, with new interests in personal computers, office equipment, and telecommunications. The company became part of Telecom Italia in 2003. Electronic calculators are still made and sold under the Olivetti name.

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). Olivetti machines from the 1960s and 70s were crafted by well-known industrial designers including Ettore Sottsass and Mario Bellini (designer of the Divisumma 18, 28, Programma 101). Several of Olivetti's products are now regarded as classics of modern art. The Divisumma 18 is exposed in the New-Yorker Modern Art Museum.

Source : John Wolff's Web Museum