Camillo Olivetti founded Ing C. Olivetti & C S.P.A. on October 29th 1908 as the first typewriter factory. It had 20 employees and a production facility consisting of a 500 m sq workshop, with a weekly output of 20 machines. In 1911, Olivetti released its first Typewriter code-named M1. Olivetti grew rapidly from 1920 to 1940; it broadens its offer and sets up sales subsidiaries in and outside Europe. One of the most important people behind this was Adriano son of Camillo, who was appointed general director in 1933. In 1950’s Olivetti was the undisputed leader in mechanical technologies and the success of its products stimulates significant growth. In the same year Olivetti acquired Underwood, a leading US typewriter manufacturer and invested in new electronic technologies. In 1959 Olivetti introduced Italy’s first electronic computer code-named Elea 9003. After Adriano Olivetti’s death in 1960, The Electronics division had to be sold because the company was in serious financial difficulty.
After the recovery Olivetti still continued to work into the electronics field, and in 1965 presented the P101.
The P101 was a highly innovative programmable desktop computer that was considered by many the forerunner of the personal computer. In 1964 Bruno Visentini was appointed company chairman. In the 70’s Olivetti invested heavily in electronics, but by the end of the decade Olivetti was in serious difficulties. Carlo De Benedetti acquires a shareholding in 1978 and takes over as Chief Executive Officer. His arrival marks the start not only of a long period of restructuring, but also of a new cycle of growth. During this period Olivetti launched many new products, which included the first electronic typewriter in 1978 and the first home computer (M20) in 1982. It also expanded its operations in the Information
Technology field, and pursues an international acquisition and alliance strategy, leading to the accord with AT&T in 1983. To expand its potential in the British trade Olivetti acquired Acorn to expand its possibilities in Europe. During the late 80’s Olivetti continued its growth in the computer technology by releasing products such as printer, calculators, cash registers and with the development of bubble ink jet technology.
1990 was the year of telecommunications for Olivetti. To achieve this project Olivetti went into a very costly restructuring. The company joins forces with other investors, including some of the world’s top telecommunication operators, to form a mobile communications start-up named Omintel. Omintel becomes operational at the end of 1995 after bidding successfully for an operating license. In 1995 with Telecom’s strategies lead to the formation of Infostrada, a wire line telephone operator. In a very short space of time, these two ventures transform Olivetti and took it into a new cycle of growth. Today Olivetti is one of the most popular companies in telecommunication with revenues exceeding 28.2 million euro and about 130,000 employees.