Retired visionary entrepreneur inventor Enrico Massetti was born in Milan, Italy.
Retired visionary entrepreneur inventor – the hand-held database software
In 1973, to help Nielsen solve a major problem they had moving data that was printed and audited on paper, Enrico devised a hand-held computer to help their field auditors perform the operations more efficiently.
His idea started a multi-year multinational project, financed 100% by Nielsen International headquarter in Chicago. It involved its USA subsidiary and many European ones. Nielsen project management was assigned to Nielsen Italia.
It resulted in software development for a custom database management system running on a hand-held battery-operated computer.
For many years there was no such computer device available on which to run the software. Intel had just introduced the microprocessor.
A lot of different projects for different clients
In 1974, while in Milan, Enrico started his own engineering development company.
He added to the Nielsen contract several other projects to develop microprocessor-based systems and products for Italian and European clients.
This activity brought the products of his clients to the most updated technologies of microprocessors and microcontrollers.
The 1980 invention of the first-ever Local Area Network – also known as LAN
In 1980 the European Parliament was given full authority of approval of the European Union budget. They decided they needed an electronic voting system and issued an RFP – Request For Proposal, to buy it.
The Italian company Olivetti sold the system proposed by Enrico: it had the best price/performance among all the offers.
Enrico conceived and designed, along with his engineers, built, installed, tested, and operated the system.
It was the first-ever LAN in the world with 420 microcomputer connections.
The EU had two systems installed: one in Strasbourg (France), and the second, four months later, in Luxemburg.
See Wikipedia on the European Parliament voting system.
Local Area Network Failure (LAN)
The first time LAN was used in Luxembourg, it failed miserably. Nevertheless, it made 420 members of the Parliament laugh and scream, as you can see when you view the video from the Italian public television station RAI.
A success story and the birth of the most financially-stable small company in Italy
The system was THE solution for the European Parliament.
Eurel is a small Italian company that took over the maintenance of the systems when Olivetti abandoned the field.
Today they installed for the EU close to twenty systems derived from the original one in Strasbourg and Brussels. As the number of members grew from the original 420 to the current 750, expansions of the system followed.
There wasn’t any degradation in the performance.
Of course, in these forty years, the terminals underwent significant improvements, especially to prevent voting fraud by the Parliament members, but the LAN remained.
The Parliament installed it in the different hemicycles where the general assembly and the various commissions meet.
Both chambers of the Italian Parliament use it also. So do about forty regional and municipal assemblies in Italy and the Parliament of Albania.
All these systems require a maintenance contract. The institutions using them want to be sure that they will be available when there is a vote. These contracts bring financial stability.
Enrico was already in the USA when Eurel started operating. So this was a missed opportunity for him but a stable business for them.
The invention of the first hand-held computer
In 1982 the Nielsen software was complete and ready for use. Still, there was no hardware available.
Nielsen asked Enrico to develop the hardware.
It was a hand-held battery-operated personal computer with one megabyte of Solid State Drive (SSD), hard disk memory. See Wikipedia on NIAT for the technical details.
In a few months, Enrico completed the development, and the unit was ready for production.
After an exhaustive and unsuccessful search for a manufacturer in the USA, Nielsen turned again to Enrico. They had him and his entire family move to Florida, where he managed the project, along with their entire engineering department, and started producing the hand-held computer.
Nielsen manufactured it in several thousand units and used it in the USA and several European countries for several years.
Another missed opportunity/travesty
Nielsen wanted total control of the software, as it was their trade secret. After all, it contained details of the operating procedures of all their subsidiaries around the world.
However, Nielsen would have permitted Enrico to repackage and sell the computer hardware and operating system as a generic all-purpose product.
Five years later, HP launched a handheld device with the same hardware and operating system software and characteristics that Enrico had invented.
It was a missed opportunity/travesty.
The corporate years
After completing the project, Enrico continued to work for Nielsen for 14 years. In addition, he expanded the Television Audience Measurement (TAM) business around the world.
He designed the Eurometer, a new television metering system that made Nielsen competitive in the world markets. Nielsen used it in 14 countries in Europe, Asia, and Latin America.
Enrico coordinated this development with groups between Finland, the UK, Florida, and Texas, without the internet or e-mail.
He also traveled extensively, meeting colleagues and clients in Europe, Latin America, and the USA. During this time, he also lived in Brazil for six months.
He retired from Nielsen in 1998.
He holds 11 patents on television and radio audience measurement.
Retired visionary entrepreneur inventor
Since the debut of the Internet in 1997, Enrico has set up several websites:
Cooking-Italian.com – is a website with recipes for authentic Italian cooking and a comprehensive guide to Italian charcuterie.
Tango-dancers.com – a catalog of all the products on tango available worldwide.
Enrico, among other things, now writes, publishes, and sells online Italian tourist guides.