Founded in 1908 by electrical engineer Camillo Olivetti (1868-1943), this manuacturer of typewriters, computers, tablets, smartphones, printers and other business products is headquartered in Ivrea near Turin, Italy. In 2003, it became part of the Telecom Italia Group. Camillo's son, Adriano Olivetti (1901-1960), developed the company internationally.
Its typewriters included the Olivetti M40 (1930, by Camillo Olivetti and Gino Levi Martinoli) and the Lettera 22 (1950, by Marcello Nizzoli). In 1959, it bought one of its competitors, the Underwood Typewriter Company. In 2015, Maria Ramos Silva wrote the following comprehensive dissertation at the University of Reading: Type design for typewriters: Olivetti.
Type designers who were commissioned to design typefaces for Olivetti include
- Imre Reiner. In 1957 Reiner got the commission from Olivetti to design a proportional typeface for the new typewriter Olivetti Graphika. The characters had to be designed within four width possibilities. Reiner designed a proportional typeface whose appearance differed greatly from the standard typewriter type. He also designed Consilium and started a new design that Olivetti called Senatus, but Senatus was never released.
- A.M. Cassandre. He too was commissioned in 1957 to design a typeface for the Olivetti Graphika. It is more irregular than Reiner's design. Some say that Cassandre also designed a typeface called Nuova Pica for Olivetti.
- Wim Crouwel. In 1974, he designed a rounded octagonal typeface for Olivetti but it was never used, so Crouwel got the rights of the design back. Some time later, he received a commission for designing postge stamps for the Dutch postal service, for which he used an updated version of his Olivetti typeface.
- Josef-Müller Brockmann. In the mif 1970s, Brockmann was asked to design a typeface for Olivetti. He produced the rational---very Swiss---12 pitch typewriter typeface Candia. The 10 pitch version released by Olivetti was called Livius.
- Herbert Lindinger. Lindinger designed the monospaced typefaces Sirio (12 pitch) and Ulm (10 pitch) for Olivetti.
- Arturo Rolfo. Designer of Valentine.
Olivetti had many in-house typefaces. These include these, grouped by style:
- Pica. It was the most common style used in typewriters, which could be considered a branch of slab serif typefaces. Pica refers to 12 pitch and Elite to 10 pitch.
- Imperial. These were the designs with contrast in the thickness of the strokes. Thsis group of typefaces includes Lettera (1950s), which offers a darker and more severe appearance to the text.
- Sans serif. For small sizes, Olivetti designed Mikron and Perla. Another group of sans serif typefaces were the alphabets without lowercase letters. These designs only included uppercase letters and small caps. Stampatello was the name used by Olivetti to refer to this style. Other designs in this group include Telegrama, Avvisi, Simplicitas, and Gigante, an alphabet1 created for advertising. Quadrato (1963, Arturo Rolfo) was designed for the Olivetti Valentine. Notizia came later and was designed for electronic typewriters.
- Proportional. These typefaces were designed with different character widths. They include A.M. Cassandre's and Imre reiner;'s designs for the Olivetti Graphika in 1956. Later typefaces in this group: Venezia, Tempo, Kent, Windsor, Vista, Doricus, Carlyle.
- Protective-writing and handwriting. This group includes Perforante, a typeface used for protective writing in cheques and similar work. The typewriter included an option for stencil type that embossed the letters on the paper, instead of printing them. the Perforante characters were engraved in the metal type with sharp contours, so that it cut the paper when using the stencil mode. Olivetti offered a type variant that included both Stampatello and Perforante. With this typeface, the user could cut and print letters in security documents with the same machine. Among the handwriting styles, we find Roma.
Digital revivals include
- Baksheesh (Stuart Brown, 2005).
- Cassandre Classic (2009, Ian Davies).
- Cassandre Graphika and Reiner Graphika (Richard Polt, 2010).
- Gridnik (1997, by Wim Crouwel and David Quay, based on the typeface that Crouwel had made for Olivetti typewriters, which was later used in the design of Dutch post stamps).
- Ivrea (Inigo Lopez Vazquez, 2015).
- Lekton (2008, by Luna Castroni, Stefano Faoro, Emilio Macchia, Elena Papassissa, Michela Povoleri, and Tobias Seemiller under the supervision of the lecturer Luciano Perondi at ISIA Urbino, after Olivett Notizia).
- Lettera (2008, Kobi Benezri, based on Candia).
- Olivetti Type 2 (Hernan Asorey, 2010).
- Olivetti Typewriter (Iza W, 2008).
- Sirio (Josh Young, 2014).
- Typewriter (2012, Henrik Kubel, after Olivetti Pica).
- LL Valentine (2002, Stephan Müller, based on Arturo Rolfo's Valentine).
Typewriter fonts ⦿
Type design in Italy ⦿