Olivetti Elea 9003: Between Scientific Research and Computer Business

  • Giuditta Parolini
Conference paper
Part of the IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology book series (IFIPAICT, volume 269)


About fifty years ago, Elea 9003, the first Italian mainframe fully transistorized, was built in the Olivetti Electronic Research Laboratory. The mainframe was realized with a drain of international expertise and training on-the-job of scientific staff. The head of the Laboratory, Mario Tchou, had a valuable experience in electronics in the U.S. and his collaborators, at first mainly Italian, were chosen for previous experience in pulse modulation methods. Elea 9003 was built with germanium diodes and transistors. They successfully sold the mainframe on the national market, but Olivetti electronic enterprise did not last. After the unexpected deaths of Adriano Olivetti (1960) and Mario Tchou (1961) there were inner contrasts in the management. Moreover, the national market was very limited and the Italian government did not help in any way the company. Therefore, in 1964 due to financial problems and shortsighted business strategies, Olivetti dismissed its main electronic assets and sold the Electronic Department to General Electric. However, the seeds of the work done by Olivetti Laboratory sprouted later on in computer science thanks to Programma 101, the first desktop computer.


Second generation mainframe Research & development (R&D) Technology transfer Olivetti 


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Copyright information

© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giuditta Parolini
    • 1
  1. 1.Innovations in the Communication of Science (ICS–SISSA)USA

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