The Olivetti Alphabet

Inventions and discoveries that have improved our lives

By Fondazione Adriano Olivetti

Ritratto di Adriano OlivettiFondazione Adriano Olivetti

"In our factory there must be freedom, not only because we believe in freedom, but because we are a company of inventors, and invention requires freedom."  Adriano Olivetti

schizzo camiloFondazione Adriano Olivetti

Camillo Olivetti

collage di copertineFondazione Adriano Olivetti

C for Culture        

Adriano Olivetti strongly believed in the interplay between the worlds of culture and business and in the central role of culture in elevating society on a spiritual level. His contribution to the publishing sector was fundamental, not only through his writings, but also through the numerous magazines that he ran or edited, including “Comunità”, “Metron”, “Zodiac”, “Urbanistica” and “Sele-Arte”. And also through the output of his publishing house, first NEI (Nuova Edizioni Ivrea) and then, from 1946, Edizioni di Comunità. The firm published titles by the most important thinkers of the twentieth century, from Simone Weil to Kierkegaard and from Schumpeter to Lord Beveridge.

Elea 9003 in uno schizzo di Ettore Sottsass Jr.Fondazione Adriano Olivetti

E for Elea  

The transition from mechanics to electronics was the most significant challenge faced by Olivetti in the '50s. A group of around thirty young researchers, led by the Italian-Chinese engineer Mario Tchou, wrote the most important chapter in the global history of electronics, calling it ELEA 9003: the world's first fully-transistorised computer.

Veduta frontale dell'Elea 9003Fondazione Adriano Olivetti

The computer took up 170 square metres, but Ettore Sottsass Jr's design made the components seem refined and almost homely. Once again, the Olivetti style – that mix of functionality and beauty – would make a name for itself around the world.

Roberto Olivetti e Mario Tchou.Fondazione Adriano Olivetti

It was Roberto Olivetti, Adriano's first child, who followed the research into electronics led by the engineer Mario Tchou.

Annuncio di lavoro Olivetti.Fondazione Adriano Olivetti

With this advertisement, published in the spring of 1955 in the major Italian newspapers, Olivetti called together engineers, physicists and mathematicians to start up the Barbaricina workshop.

Annuncio di lavoro Olivetti.Fondazione Adriano Olivetti

The engineering team of the Olivetti Electronics Division. First row: Giancarlo Galantini, Giorgio Maddalena, Giorgio Sacerdoti, Mario Tchou, Ettore Sottsass Jr. Second row: Remo Galletti, Franco Filippazzi, Edmund Schreiner, Paolo Grossi, Giuseppe Calogero. Third row: Gianni Bertolini, Giampiero Riannetti, Pier Giorgio Perotto, Gianfranco Raffo, Sergio Benvenuti. Fourth row: Sergio Sibani, Martin Friedmann, Simone Fubini, Mariano Speggiorin, Sante Caenazzo. Fifth row: Douglas Webb, Ottavio Guarracino, Giuseppe Tarchini, Amedeo Cerrai, Lucio Libero Borriello, Albano Guzzetti.

Manifesto Olivetti Lettera 22Fondazione Adriano Olivetti

G for Graphics   

Inspired by the interdisciplinary principles put forward by the Bauhaus, Adriano Olivetti called upon scholars, sociologists, economists, artists and architects, employing them in roles and sectors that were seemingly alien to them. It was a winning strategy that still seems innovative and forward-looking today.

Manifesto Olivetti LexiconFondazione Adriano Olivetti

Manifesto istituzionale OlivettiFondazione Adriano Olivetti

Manifesto Olivetti DiaspronFondazione Adriano Olivetti

Manifesto Olivetti TetractysFondazione Adriano Olivetti

Manifesto Olivetti Lettera 22Fondazione Adriano Olivetti

Manifesto Olivetti Lettera 22Fondazione Adriano Olivetti

Manifesto Olivetti Lettera 22Fondazione Adriano Olivetti

Manifesto istituzionale OlivettiFondazione Adriano Olivetti

Manifesto della Olivetti Valentine.Fondazione Adriano Olivetti

Asilo nido di Borgo OlivettiFondazione Adriano Olivetti

H for Humana Civilitas

In the immediate post-war period, Adriano Olivetti attributed to the word "Comunità" (Community) all the values that modernisation had to respect.

estratto da Incontro con la Olivetti di Giorgio FerroniFondazione Adriano Olivetti

Vista aerea di Corso JervisOriginal Source: Immagine tratta dal Dossier di Candidatura di "Ivrea Città Industriale del XX secolo" nella World Heritage List UNESCO

I for Ivrea  

On 1st July 2018, Ivrea was declared a UNESCO site. At long last, Adriano Olivetti's entrepreneurial, political, social, cultural and urban vision has become part of world heritage.

Lettera 22Fondazione Adriano Olivetti

L for Lettera 22   

Designed in 1950 by Marcello Nizzoli, Lettera 22 is the icon of twentieth-century industrial Italy. Light, thin and portable, it conquered the global market in no time. Everyone fell under its spell, from Ernest Hemingway to Brigitte Bardot. Lettera 22 became an emblem of modernity, and in 1953 it was added to the MoMA's collection representing "Made in Italy" and the Olivetti style around the world.

La M1, laddove 'M' sta per Macchina. Prima macchina per scrivere firmata Olivetti. (1911) by Camillo OlivettiFondazione Adriano Olivetti

M for M1    

A true mechanical gem. Technical and aesthetic quality – functionality and beauty – would be the hallmark of all Olivetti products from that moment on. It was created in 1908 and was the first Italian typewriter. The machine had 42 keys corresponding to 84 symbols. It was 37 cm wide, 41 cm deep, 26 cm high, and weighed 17 kg. It cost 550 lire, about 100 lire more than the American Remington. For this reason, the market was initially unconvinced, but it did not take long for this typewriter to establish itself as Italy's finest product; the orders, especially from public organisations, soon began to come thick and fast.

Brevetti Camillo Olivetti (1909)Fondazione Adriano Olivetti

P for Patents   

Patents protect and enhance the value of innovation. They are the legal title that gives the holder the exclusive right to exploit the invention in question. The history of Olivetti is dotted with patents: from Camillo Olivetti's historic patents to those of the many engineers who designed the future at Olivetti. 

Brevetto Olivetti per tastiera alfabeto Aramaico.Fondazione Adriano Olivetti

Brevetto Olivetti per tasto di macchina per scrivere.Fondazione Adriano Olivetti

Brevetto scocca macchina per scrivere Lexicon Olivetti.Fondazione Adriano Olivetti

Programma 101 o P101Fondazione Adriano Olivetti

P for P101  

"I I dreamt of a simple computer that didn't need someone in a white coat to work it. A small, inexpensive machine designed for everyone." Pier Giorgio Perotto, P101 design engineer.

Showroom Olivetti Buenos AiresFondazione Adriano Olivetti

S for Stores  

You don't go in to an Olivetti store to shop; you go to look. The company's iconic products are displayed as works of art, showcases for the Olivetti style. The stores and their interior fittings were designed by architects now recognised as among the most important of the twentieth century.

Showroom Olivetti MontrealFondazione Adriano Olivetti

Showroom Olivetti ParigiFondazione Adriano Olivetti

Olivetti ValentineFondazione Adriano Olivetti

V for Valentine      

"It's called Valentine and it was designed to be used anywhere except the office, to help people forget the monotony of their working day, as a companion for lovers of poetry." Ettore Sottsass, 1968

Credits: Story

mostra a cura di Francesca Limana

realizzata grazie alla collaborazione di:
Archivio Centrale di Stato
Associazione Archivio Storico Olivetti, Ivrea
Eredi Pintori
Eredi Oliveri
Barbara Radice
Fondazione Natale Capellaro, Ivrea
Museo Laboratorio Tecnologic@mente, Ivrea


Le citazioni in mostra sono tratte da:
Valerio Ochetto, "La biografia", Edizioni di Comunità, 2013
Pier Giorgio Perotto, "P101. Quando l'Italia inventò il personal computer", Edizioni di Comunità, 2015
AA.VV., "Olivetti: una bella società", Umberto Allemandi Editore, 2008

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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