P101, when Olivetti invented the first personal computer


P101, when Olivetti invented the first personal computer


P101, the first desktop computer that changed the history of technology told by Beniamino de ‘Liguori and Pier Paolo Perotto at the CECAM (Centre Européen de Calcul Atomique et Moléculaire) in Lausanne, Tuesday 9 November 2021.

1965 New York World Fair. Long before Microsoft and Apple and at a time when computers were big and expensive machines largely unknown to the general public, the Olivetti industries presented the P101 or Programma 101, the world’s first desktop computer.

Innovative technological solutions and a sleek design made the Programma 101 an instant hit: specialists and public alike queued to see it, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and several other American newspaper hailed it as a revolution, more than 40.000 pieces were sold worldwide to universities, banks, hospitals, small businesses…

…And then what happened? Why don’t we all own an Olivetti laptop today? Some say it’s the nature of the market, some say that it is a spy story.

CECAM and MARVEL invite you to (re)discover the machine that transformed the specifications and the look and feel of calculators, opening the path to our modern laptops. With the help of two invited speakers, we shall explore the cultural environment that fostered the development of Programma 101 and learn more about its technical characteristics. Along the way, we shall meet Pier Giorgio Perotto – the father of this little marvel – and a young team of developers in the Electronic Division at Olivetti, and get to know Adriano Olivetti, an unusual industrialist who thought that profit could not be achieved without houses, libraries and social security for his employees or without schools and playgrounds for their children.


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