Adriano Olivetti was an Italian industrialist and innovator who is best remembered for having created the first Italian Silicon Valley in Ivrea. Born in 1901, he was the son of Camillo Olivetti, founder of Ing. C. Olivetti & C, the first Italian company to manufacture typewriters.
Olivetti was a true visionary and his work in many different sectors – including economics, corporate social responsibility, urban planning, architecture, design, publishing, and politics – made him a symbol of “Made in Italy.”
He was truly ahead of his time and his commitment to innovation and progress helped shape the country’s modern identity.
Even though Olivetti is no longer with us, his legacy continues to inspire and motivate those who believe in the power of Italian ingenuity and creativity.
He was a true visionary whose work in many different fields has shaped Italy’s modern identity.
However, the difficulties it encountered in its growth were many. The first major challenge that Adriano had to face was the management of the family business, which he took over from his father in 1931.
He came to realize, fifteen years before Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, the 101 Program: the machine that opened the road to the revolution of our time, the personal computer.
THE BEGINNINGS OF OLIVETTI
The Olivetti company was founded in 1908 in Ivrea, a small town in north-western Italy, with the aim of producing and selling typewriters.
In those days, most typewriters were imported from the United States, and Olivetti’s competitive advantage lay in its ability to produce high-quality machines at a lower price.
This allowed the company to quickly establish itself as a market player.
However, the Great Depression of the 1930s hit Olivetti hard. Sales plummeted and the company was forced to lay off workers.
Adriano responded to this crisis with a commitment to social responsibility, which was very unusual for a company at the time.
He developed a plan to provide employment and social services to his workers, including health care, housing, and childcare. This commitment to the well-being of its employees helped Olivetti overcome the economic crisis and emerge stronger than ever.
In 1965, Adriano Olivetti presented Program 101, the first personal computer in the world.
In 1935, he introduced the M100, the first electric typewriter. This was a major innovation for the time and helped Olivetti maintain its position as a leading supplier of typewriters.
In the 1940s, Olivetti expanded its operations beyond Italy, opening factories in Switzerland, France, and the United Kingdom. The company also began manufacturing other office products such as adding machines and duplicators.
Olivetti was now a global company and its products were used by some of the most famous writers of the time, including Ernest Hemingway and Graham Greene.
BUT WHO REALLY WAS ADRIANO OLIVETTI
Adriano Olivetti was born in Ivrea on February 2, 1901.
Adriano studied engineering at the Polytechnic of Turin and he graduated in 1925. After working for a period in his father’s company, he decided to continue his studies in the United States.
He attended Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he became interested in management and sociology.
After returning to Italy, Adriano took over the family business in 1931. Under his leadership, Olivetti became a major force in the Italian economy and a world-renowned company.
Adriano Olivetti was not only a successful businessman; he was also a committed social reformer. He believed that companies had a responsibility to improve the lives of their workers and the communities in which they operated.
To this end, it developed a number of innovative programs, including childcare, health care, and housing for its workers.
Olivetti’s commitment to social responsibility was ahead of its time, and his company served as a role model for other companies to follow.
Adriano Olivetti died suddenly in 1960 at the age of 59, but his legacy continues to inspire those striving to make a difference in the world.
Olivetti’s dream still lives on in his company’s iconic products such as the famous Lettera 22 typewriter exhibited at MoMA in New York.
Among the acknowledgments received during his lifetime such as the National Management Association award for “cutting-edge action in the field of international business management” for transforming a Piedmontese typewriter company into a global IT giant.
Thanks to the urban and architectural heritage inherited from the vision of an enlightened entrepreneur such as Adriano Olivetti, in 2018, Ivrea was officially recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as an “industrial city of the twentieth century.”
TO OVERCOME A CRISIS YOU ALWAYS NEED TO MAKE STRONG CHANGES
After the Great Depression hit the Olivetti company hard, Adriano took command and decided it was time for some big changes.
First, he moved the company headquarters from Milan to Ivrea, a small town in the Italian Alps. This was seen as a risky move at the time, but it paid off.
The new headquarters helped Olivetti save money and allowed the company to focus on its core strengths.
Additionally, Adriano Olivetti developed a number of new products that helped the company recover from the Depression.
One of these was Program 101, the world’s first personal computer.
Program 101 was a great success and helped put Olivetti back on track.
And from there his factory began to churn out highly technological and cutting-edge products.
But as you can see, I have mentioned only two of the great innovations implemented by Adriano, to start again we need to create upheaval.
It concerns both a company and the personal life of each of us when we are faced with strong psychological crises.
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