The three sons of Antonio Cavalieri Ducati, an industrial engineer who made his career in the later part of the 19th century, were the founders of Ducati. Antonio Cavalieri Ducati, a native of Comacchio, moved to Bologna in the second half of the 19th century, during the height of the Italian industrial revolution.
In 1924 Adriano Cavalieri Ducati, a brilliant physics student, achieved fame with his experimental radio connection between Italy and America, using a short wave device of his own design. Bologna was going through a period of great ferment, thanks partly to the birth of Italian broadcast radio, but above all due to the popularity enjoyed by the city as the birthplace of Guglielmo Marconi, inventor of the radio.
Encouraged by the success of this experiment, the Ducati family established the "Società Scientifica Radio Brevetti Ducati" (Ducati Scientific Radio Patent Company) on July 4, 1926. The first offices were located in the centre of Bologna, on Via Collegio di Spagna 9, but shortly thereafter the company moved to Viale Guidotti 51, just outside the town centre. This was to be the first large Ducati plant, which continued in use until June 1, 1935, when the foundation stones of the current plant at Borgo Panigale were laid.
The first part was built in the years 1935 to 1939. Bruno Ducati was in charge of design and directed construction and Marcello Ducati managed the staff, while production and research were supervised by Adriano Ducati. From the original production of condensers, production rapidly expanded to include radio equipment and precision mechanical engineering, with the concomitant growth in employees leading to Ducati becoming the largest manufacturing company in Bologna in the 30s. At the start of the Second World War the plant was further expanded to house a workforce of over 5,000, but it was heavily damaged by Allied bombardments on October 12, 1944 and production stopped until the second half of 1945.
The Ducati brothers were not discouraged by these experiences and the plant
was already partly rebuilt by the end of 1945, with production of the Cucciolo, the first motorcycle manufactured at Borgo Panigale, starting in March 1946. Unfortunately, due to damage suffered during the war, the Ducati brothers found themselves unable to run the company profitably, and it was ceded to the state in 1948. Adriano Cavalieri Ducati moved to California, where he worked with Werner Von Braun on the American space programme which resulted in the lunar landings in 1969. Marcello Ducati, on the other hand, moved to Milan to manufacture automatic gates. The third brother, Bruno Ducati, also moved to Milan where he established an estate agency which is still active today.
Bruno Ducati died on May 18, 2001 at the age of 96, the last of the three Ducati brothers.