Adriano Cavalieri Ducati

Born on 15 June 1903, Adriano Cavalieri Ducati, had just turned 19 when, in 1922, as a brilliant physics student, he began to develop an interest in the emerging science of radio and its applications.

The passion of the young Bolognese scientist was strongly driven by the discoveries of Guglielmo Marconi, the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics, a fellow citizen of Bologna and a celebrated luminary of wireless radio transmission. On 15 January 1924, at just twenty, Adriano successfully connected Italy and the United States via radio. The significance of this experiment earned him the title of Knight of the Crown of Italy. He was one of the youngest to have been knighted up until that point.

Having founded the “Società Scientifica Radio Brevetti Ducati” on 4 July 1926 together with his father Antonio and brother Bruno, Adriano continued his research into short-wave radio and designed the first historic Ducati product, the “Manens” capacitor, in 1926.

In the wake of the continual creation of components and radioelectric equipment, Adriano Ducati’s work transferred from the first base in the center of Bologna to the family’s villa, on Viale Guidotti, in 1928. In 1934, the Viale Guidotti factory had the honor of welcoming the very man who had inspired Adriano Ducati, Guglielmo Marconi.

Considering the success of the electro-technical production developed by Adriano Ducati, manufacturing was soon extended to include new product types, including precision optics, the development of micromechanics used for the construction of radios, capacitors, manual calculators, and other very sophisticated items. Unfortunately, though, the political implications that would see Italy enter the war in 1940 forced all technologically advanced companies to convert their production for strategic and military ends. Ducati was no exception, and production underwent a radical change.

Following the bombing of the Borgo Panigale factory on 12 October 1944, the Ducati family decided to evacuate to Lombardy. In the days following the liberation on 25 April, Adriano Ducati and his brothers were recognized for having collaborated in the partisan struggle and, in May of that same year, the secret services of the American army made initial contact, having read up on the intense scientific activity carried out by Adriano Cavalieri Ducati.

After the company was sold to the state in 1948, Adriano Ducati decided to continue his scientific activity overseas, in California, where he initiated research in collaboration with NASA, headed up at that time by Werner Von Braun, the father of rocket science. Within the electronics field, Adriano developed an electronic plasma space propulsion system for the program that had already taken man to the moon.

By then an old man, and having never married, Adriano returned to Italy in the early 80s, moving to Milan where brothers Bruno and Marcello already lived. Adriano Ducati passed away in Milan on 25 November 1991, at the age of 88.

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