There was a full time guy named Tony Sale who I think organized these efforts who would be there hacking away on stuff and was happy to talk about all of it...
But by the end of the 80s the writing was on the wall: the Italian system could not support a world-class tech player.
There are many that believe - including Olivetti employees back then, according to documented sources - that the US system did in fact "un-support" it to favor IBM, considering the demise of Olivetti is to be mainly attributed to the sudden death of the Italo-Chinese (CEO and CTO) heads of the Olivetti electronics division, in less than clear circumstances.
"Nel 2013 Carlo De Benedetti dichiarò a un programma radiofonico: "In Olivetti c'era la convinzione che fosse stato ucciso dai servizi segreti americani", ipotizzando che l'incidente di Tchou fosse stato in qualche modo provocato per favorire l'IBM."
Consider that in these years, Italy was a Cold War playground where secret services of US/Nato on one side and Russia/China on the other, were actively taking part in multiple underground large scale operations.
Like thinking about alternative histories, and branches in the multiverse, where ours seems to be the one which took several wrong turns in the past.
But now that you mention it, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full-spectrum_dominance comes to mind, and with it another blip on my mindmap of what could have been (different).
Regarding economic sabotage of / political pressure against
And that's not even getting into mafia itself, its ties with judges, state and municipal governments and so on (a whole book on its own), church scandals, and so on...
Americans, who naively believe in the innocence of states and big corporate interests and disbelieve in political conspiracies and cover ups (despite some of their own elite's shit having been exposed time and again, from Hoover's blakmails and politician surveillance to the Watergate, and from Iran-Contra to Abu Ghraib on to Snowden), should probably refrain from commenting on places like Italy...
I mean... 'dietrologia' is a thing there: https://www.economist.com/johnson/2011/03/15/dietrologia
Just because some things really were plots doesn't mean everything is.
Another nice piece on conspiracy theories: https://www.economist.com/christmas-specials/2002/12/19/that...
No, but it does make one "Once bitten twice shy" so to speak!
The Programma 101, a workhorse containing magnetostrictive acoustic delay line memory. I saw a youtube tear-down of one once-- amazing. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Programma_101)
The way-ahead-of-its-time Divisumma-18. Orange rubber buttons, freaking 1973. (https://www.massmadesoul.com/olivetti-divisumma-18)
What exactly made it unable to do so?
* Italian economy favors small and medium-sized enterprises over big corporations. This has worked alright for some industries (e.g. automotive/machinery and several niche markets), less so for mass production of consumer electronics.
* Italy has few natural and energetic resources, which made it difficult for Olivetti to compete with cheap PC clones from US/Taiwan/etc. Being far away from the ocean migh also have played a role in this.
* Big Italian companies often become entangled with political/financial scandals. Olivetti had its share of that as well. 
While I can understand how the nostalgia factor elicits this kind of behaviour, I can't help but think there are many better causes.
I am glad that there are people willing to keep a decent representative sample of big-iron machines in working order.
You can say that for pretty much every charity or cause. Did you really want to say this is a total waste of money and time? If so, then I could be persuaded to agree with you.
I guess I might retract my previous statement as I wouldn't want to see the machine disappear either. But I do often wonder what could be accomplished with such resources. This goes for myself too I certainly spend my time and money in ways that are suboptimal.
Don't get me wrong, I'm glad they still keep this thing running for history's sake, but am a little surprised it's worth the time for a high school to do it.
Nerds will know ST for excellent STM32 ARM microcontrollers. Back in the day you could spot their logo on clone 486 CPUs and NVIDIA RIVA 128 chip.
My colleague is living in Milan and I told him about the Computer Museum in Pisa. He's on a mission to get there now.
I’d love to have learned more in this story
I know people that collect PDPs, and I used to have a small collection of 80s personal computers myself.
This stuff is interesting in many ways - what word size is used? I/O, storage, core memory, valves, mercury delay lines, anything else?
These were the wild-west days of computers, and there was little in the way of standard components. But this article barely scratched the surface of what this computer has
Gives me something to do tomorrow I guess
See this  for the article she wrote on the ELEA 9003. It was also linked to in the original article.