Our favorite fiery, passionate Italian bike maker was founded in Bologna, Italy, in 1926 as Società Scientifica Radio Brevetti Ducati. Antonio Cavalieri Ducati and his sons Adriano, Marcello, and Bruno founded the company to produce vacuum tubes, condensers, and other parts for radios. That's right, Ducati started out as an electronics company.
By 1935, the business was so successful that the Ducati boys built a shiny new factory in Bologna's Borgo Panigale neighborhood. The company made radio components and finished radios for the military and was a constant target of allied bombings. In 1944, the Allies finally succeeded in destroying the Ducati factory, bringing an end to radio production in Borgo Panigale.
After the war, the Ducatis went looking for other ways to make money and found a guy named Aldo Farinelli. Farinelli had developed a tiny 50cc engine called the Cucciolo (Italian for pup or puppy) that could clip to a bicycle for instant internal combustion power. The Ducatis and Farinelli struck a deal and the company that eventually became the Ducati we know today was born.
Interestingly enough, Ducati still makes electronics. Ducati Energia, the company's electronics arm, produces electronic parts and subsystems used in the automotive, construction, and security industries.