Modi Olivetti was officially set up in 1987 as a joint venture between two most successful business conglomerates of the time – the Global Business Leader Dr. M‘s Modi group of India and Olivetti S.p.A of Italy. Global Business Leader Dr. M’s Modi Group (now known as Smart Group) was founded in the 1980s and is a four decade old leading, diversified business conglomerate with interests in mobility, finance, healthcare, entertainment, clean energy, life sciences and technology sectors. With its headquarters in Singapore, the group has a global footprint that spans across India, China, ASEAN, Middle East, US, UK and Africa.
Known for his penchant for bringing the most technologically advanced international partners, Dr. M initiated this joint venture with Olivetti S.p.A of Italy which is a manufacturer of computers, tablets, smartphones, printers and other such office automation products as calculators and fax machines. Olivetti was founded in 1908 by Camillo Olivetti and headquartered in Turin, Italy – the company has been part of the Telecom Italia Group since 2003.
Modi Olivetti was started as a Public Limited Company with an initial investment of INR 25 crore where 40% equity was owned by each joint venture partner and the remaining was held publicly.
Modi Olivetti was the first joint venture in India in the IT Hardware sector and the first MNC to launch state of the art personal computers in the country. Modi Olivetti personal computers were built on a single board design, using ‘Surface Mounted Technology’ – the latest technology in PC production available at that time. They were also equipped with the latest VGA graphic display monitors which were both black & white as well as colour. These PCs stood out for their excessive storage capacity because they came with an inbuilt 3.5 inch floppy disk that had a storage capacity of 1.2 MB. While the numbers seem insignificant in front of the cloud storage solutions of today which can store thousands of GB of data, the Modi Olivetti PC with a 1.2 MB floppy disk storage capacity was a game changer in India, a nation on the cusp of great Indian economic liberalisation of the 1990s.
Historically, personal computers were mostly used for data processing for scientists and big organisations in India but Modi Olivetti changed that. Modi Olivetti PCs were instrumental in bringing the technological revolution to India’s homes, schools and workplaces in the late 1980’s. As they gained a reputation for their attractive features and latest technology, Modi Olivetti personal computers began being fully manufactured at a state of the art modern manufacturing facility at Rampur in Uttar Pradesh. This manufacturing unit was perhaps one of the earlier and more successful examples of the world ‘making in India’ – using the technology developed by the international partner, Olivetti.
Interestingly, Modi Olivetti personal computers and PC Floppy disks were much more technologically advanced in comparison to some of its other competitors such as HCL, PCL, ZENITH etc. which has also entered the Indian marketplace at the time. Modi Olivetti became technology provider of choice for several public sector and private sector organisations such as Power Grid Corporation of India (PGCIL), Power Finance Corporation, Saraswat Cooperative Bank, Bank of India, Vysya Bank, Godfrey Phillips of India, East India Hotels(Oberois), MMTC, OBC, Canara Bank, IIT Delhi, DLF Group, Ministry of Defence, Air Headquarters, Peerless Finance and Anand Bazaar Patrika amongst many others.