The Olivetti Programma 101 is an early desktop programmable calculator. It was developed in the years 1962-1964, and launched in the States in october 1965, with the first units being shipped a few months later.

It had a very large success, due to its relatively modest price ($3.200) and in a few years about 35.000-40.000 pieces were sold.
It went on being sold for a few and was still in large use at the beginning of the '70s, when it offered a viable alternative to larger computers.

C.G. Bell, in its book Computer Structures: Readings and Examples, published in 1971, describes it thus:
The Programma 101 is at the limit of what we call a stored program computer. It has a sufficient instruction set to be classified as a computer, but the storage for temporary data, constants, and programs is limited.

In the very same year that saw the appearance of the Programma 101, the DEC PDP-8 was launched. The PDP-8 was labeled "mini-computer" to mark the departure from the idea of the large, extremely expensive machine. Olivetti went a step further, and today Ing. Perotto, who headed the development of the Programma 101, describes it as "the first personal computer". This might sound misleading to someone, as in today's mind it's more a programmable calculator than a computer, but technical factors aside the idea was clearly that one.Quoting from a contemporary Olivetti brochure:
Desk-top computer is the right definition for the Olivetti Programma 101: an electronic calculator to be kept on the desk, at the hand's reach, usable by anyone, anytime.



This page is part of the Programma 101 Web