History

CSP (Centro Supercalcolo Piemonte) was established in 1988 in the basement of CSI-Piemonte, with the support of public bodies and the Unione industriale, in order to offer supercomputer parallel computing services to the world of science and Piedmont’s businesses.

CSP’s CRAY supercomputer was the first to be interconnected via IP but when in the mid 1990s distributed IT challenged the supercalculator model, CSP had already acquired experience in network interconnections.

In that period (1992-1995) CSP developed the first MAN (Metropolitan Area Network) and played a pioneering role in Internet applications, organising computer literacy initiatives for companies and acting as an Internet Service Provider before providers officially existed.

It was the dawn of the internet:  Mosaic, the first graphic browser, was released in  1993, Netscape in 1994 and the first version of Internet Explorer in 1995.

In 1998, when CSP’s supercalculation activity formally ended, the company changed its mission, becoming a centre of excellence for research, development and experimentation of advanced information and communication technologies.  Claudio Inguaggiato was appointed as Director.

In 1999 CSP was commissioned by Turin City Council to develop the Torino 2000 project in collaboration with Telecom Italia. The aim of this project was to trial innovative services on the first widespread xDSL network infrastructure implemented in Italy. Two different communities of experimental users were created: one in the primary schools of Turin, involving more than 70 schools and more than 500 teachers, and the other among the professional network of architects and engineers, offering the very first experimental services of email, web, video conferencing and online communities.

Also in 1999, starting out from the open PKI project entitled OpenCA, together with CSI Piemonte, CSP created the first system supplying identity certification and safe navigation. This subsequently gave rise to the projects Torino Facile and Torino Facilissima.

The new opportunities offered by video in teaching were explored in this period, with the creation of Hyperfilm, a software authoring programme for creating hypermedia videos. This led to participation in projects cofinanced by the European Union, and gave rise to CSP’s first corporate spin-off in 2002.

In 2000 the Fondazione CRT launched its ICT for schools project, commissioning CSP to coordinate the creation of a broadband infrastructure and innovative services for education. The Dschola project continued until the end of 2005.

The research activities carried out in close contact with universities led to the creation of the first research laboratories working on integrated communications (Inlab), security (Securelab), web architectures (Wtlab) and mobile multimedia (M3lab). These were followed by laboratories on knowledge communities (KEIlab), social media (Smartlab) in 2004, and together with Telecom Italia and Sun Microsystem, digital terrestrial television (DTTLab).

In parallel, projects for major IT companies like Vodafone and Ses Astra were also on the rise.

In 2002 the competencies acquired in the field of satellite communications led to the spin-off Alto Sistemi.

In 2004-2005 the company acquired an important new stakeholder, IRIDE Energia S.p.a., leading to its first operations in the field of public utilities.

In 2005 CSP began research work on embedded systems, developing a set-top-box that combines reception of digital terrestrial television, satellite television and internet navigation, demonstrating the process of digital convergence well ahead of its time.

On the prototype – dubbed Omega Box – demo interactive applications with subsequent derivatives were developed on economic, energy efficient platforms.

In 2006 Regione Piemonte – following positive results from trials of innovative work stations and tools – entrusted CSP with responsibility for the long term Schools, Universities and Research programme (Linea Strategica 6) for the development and deployment of RUPAR2 broadband (later entitled WiPie).

In this context, as of 2007 CSP implemented a number of demos in the local area, demos which could now be described as an early version of the Living Labs: complex, multidisciplinary trials of both technologies and usage models, based on the active involvement of local communities in the planning and development of the initiatives, initially applied in the greater Novara area, the Orco and Soana valleys and the town of Borgofranco di Ivrea, with a view to implementation in other areas of Piedmont.

In 2008 Sergio Duretti was appointed director of CSP, and the organisation celebrated the first ten years of its new mission.

The same year saw the launch of Innovation4Business, a regional programme of technology transfer for companies, the aim of which is to bring research closer to the business world, offering companies a catalogue of 30 technology assets (software and embedded prototypes) which can be reused and transformed into new products and services and are made available free of charge.

On 2 March 2009 CSP celebrated its 20th anniversary.

The end of 2009 saw another important development for the organisation: Confindustria Piemonte transferred its share in the company to SISVEL S.p.a., a company based in None Torinese which is a world leader in the field of managing technological innovation patents, and with the approval of article 13 of law 30, Regione Piemonte determined its acquisition of share capital.

CSP now operates from two locations, Villa Gualino and Via Livorno in Turin, and employs around 45 permanent members of staff, as well as giving work each year to a similar number of young people on work placements, study grants and contracts, who contribute day after day to writing a new chapter in history.

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