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Project: Repair Olivetti Programma 101

Repair Olivetti Programma 101

Naam Repair Olivetti Programma 101
Door MacSimski
Status Uitvoer
Madskillz mechanics, electronics, temper control
Doel / Omschrijving
Attempt to restore a Programma 101 to working order
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Our Olivetti Programma 101 has been sitting idle in a cellar for at least 10 years. Because of the way the machine is built and its age, all the mechanical parts have gummed up. Grease and oil have turned into a tough goo and the various belts have deteriorated. Checking and fixing the machine is only possible after a thorough cleaning, application of fresh lubricating agents and replacement of all the belts. Afterwards, we will be able to proceed with checking the electronics of this calculator.


The mechanics are divided into some assemblies, fixed to each other and the chassis with sometimes hard to reach screws. It is the earliest known instance of a RISC processor ("Reversed Italian Screw Construction"). Where you would expect to find the head of the screw, you find the other end instead. So for some screws you need to stick a very long screwdriver completely through the assembly to reach it.

The major units are:

  1. Keyboard assembly.
  2. Printer assembly.
  3. Servo assembly
  4. Card reader assembly.
  5. Motor.
  6. Main cooling fan.


After a first internal inspection it was clear that all the mechanical parts had gummed up by old grease and oil and that all the belts save one had turned into goo. Fortunately the machine was not tampered with or "repaired" by an amateur. We proceeded by taking the machine apart when we encountered the now famous "Reversed Italian Screw Position". Especially the card reader and the electronics cage are fitted in this fashion. I made a long flat srewdriver from a piece of long iron to reach for the deep placed screws. Finding the screw underneath the powersocket took some time as well.

The machine taken apart I focused on getting the mechanics working again. The separate assemblies were taken and submerged in Nebol grease cleaner. Belts were removed with care not to spoil the clean surroundings and the path cleaned with dasty grease remover. Getting the motor running smoothly again turned out to be a strange thing. To get to the gummed up brass bearings, we took apart the motor and cleaned the shaft and bearing with brake-cleaner. After reassembly everything was smooth, but returning the next day we found a gummed up motor on the bench. After a few attempts we discovered that the brass is porous and a piece of oil drenched felt is behind the bearing, regreasing the shaft overnight. So a thorough submerge in nebol fixed that for good.


The Datamuseum in Denmark is restoring their 101.