Adriano Ducati

The three children of Antonio Cavalieri Ducati, an engineer who became successful towards the end of the XIX century, are the main characters behind the birth of Ducati. Antonio Cavalieri Ducati, originally from Comacchio, moved to Bologna in the second half of the XIX century, at the pinnacle of the Industrial revolution. 

In 1924 Adriano Cavalieri Ducati, a brilliant physics student, became famous for his successful attempt to connect Italy and the United States by radio with a short-wave device he himself had fashioned. Bologna was going through a period of great turmoil, with the first radio broadcast services and most importantly for the popularity it enjoyed for being the birthplace of the person who had invented the radio, Guglielmo Marconi.

Driven by the enthusiasm for this successful experiment, on 4 July 1926 the Ducati family founded “Società Scientifica Radio Brevetti Ducati”.

The first head office was in the centre of the city, in Via Collegio di Spagna no. 9, though shortly the company moved to Viale Guidotti 51, right outside of the centre. There, the company kept its first large plant until 1 June 1935, when the first stone was laid for the current factory in Borgo Panigale. 

The first portion was built between 1935 and 1939. The head of the project and site was Bruno Ducati; in turn, Marcello Ducati was head of personnel, while Adriano Ducati was in charge of production and research.

From capacitors, the range of products quickly increased to radio devices and precision machining, leading to an increase in manpower; indeed, in the 30s Ducati became the most important industrial employer in the city of Bologna. At the outbreak of the Second World War, the company was further expanded to house over 5,000 employees. 

On 12 October 1944 the factory was heavily damaged by Allied bombers and the production was discontinued until the second half of 1945.

The Ducati brothers did not lose faith and already at the end of 1945 the company was partially rebuilt, enough to allow, in March 1946, to start manufacturing the Cucciolo, the first motorcycling product made in Borgo Panigale. Unfortunately, because of the damage suffered during the war, the Ducati brothers could no longer make the company profitable and, in 1948, the business was taken over by the State.

Adriano Cavalieri Ducati moved to California, where he worked with Werner Von Braun at the space programme, which brought the man on the moon in 1969. In turn, Marcello Ducati started a business in Milan for the production of automatic gates. Finally, Bruno Ducati also moved to Milan to start a company which to this day still deals in real estate.

On 18 May 2001, at the age of 96, Bruno, the last of the Ducati brothers, passed away.


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