The Mysterious Affair at Olivetti


Respected biographer Meryle Secrest seeks to uncover a Cold War era conspiracy in her new book The Mysterious Affair at Olivetti: IBM, the CIA, and the Cold War Conspiracy to Shut Down Production of the World’s First Desktop Computer. The story revolves around the Olivetti company and family, best known for their typewriters, but also the brand behind the first personal computer—some 10 years before competitors like Apple and IBM. The book begins with Adriano (the son of founder Camillo Olivetti) dying on a train to Switzerland in 1960—suspicious considering he had previously worked to remove prime minister Benito Mussolini during WWII and had ties to spy networks. In her book, Secrest seeks to understand why Olivetti, being such a pioneering company in the world of tech, fell into obscurity and what really happened to Adriano and lead engineer Mario Tchou, who also died mysteriously a year later.