The exhibition of “Programmed Art” was inaugurated in the Olivetti Store in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Milan, on 15 May 1962. The name Arte Programmata was coined by Bruno Munari, who launched the initiative, and Umberto Eco, the theorist of kinetic art as a paradigm of the “open work”, was responsible for the catalogue. The young and very young artists included the Milanese Gruppo T (Anceschi, Boriani, Colombo, Devecchi and Varisco) and Gruppo Enne from Padua (Biasi, Costa, Chiggio, Landi and Massironi) together with Enzo Mari and Munari. Others were to join during the show’s two-year tour.
Packed in crates painted orange with the name Olivetti clearly evident, the works are a small but important symbol of the Italy of the economic boom and the fruitful wedding of avant-garde art and industrial research. The show was in fact produced and sponsored by Olivetti, the first company ever to act in such a capacity, in the period of its venture into electronics and production of the Elea 9003, the world’s first transistorized mainframe computer.
Fifty years on, this book not only reconstructs the show through the works and the documentation of its genesis (including the anastatic reproduction of the original catalogue) but also takes a broader look at the electronic adventures of Olivetti, a company that sought to address the social and cultural implications of the dawning digital era.