Founded by Tullio Campagnolo, the company began in 1933 in a Vicenza workshop. The founder was a racing cyclist in Italy in the 1920s and he conceived several ideas while racing, such as the quick release mechanism for bicycle wheels, derailleurs, and the rod gear for gear changing. Campagnolo has been awarded more than 135 patents for innovations in cycling technology.
At the end of the 1950s, Campagnolo started to manufacture magnesium parts such as wheels for sports cars like Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Maserati, and built chassis for NASA satellites in 1969. In 1963, Campagnolo produced a disc brake for the Innocenti Lambretta TV motorscooter - the first two-wheel production vehicle with such a brake. In the 1970s they also supplied wheels for Ferrari's Formula One cars.
Campagnolo worked with the manufacturer Colnago and racer Eddy Merckx and produced lightweight parts for the bike he used to beat the world hour record in 1972.
Following Campagnolo's success during the 1970s and '80s, innovation lagged as rival Shimano developed indexed shifting and combined shifter/brake levers (Shimano Total Integration). An unsuccessful foray into mountain biking, the overbuilt and heavy Euclid, Centaur and Olympus groupsets contributed to the company's decline during those years. By the time the expensive Record O.R. (off-road) and Icarus MTB groupsets made it to the market, Campagnolo's reputation was firmly cemented as a road bike brand. As a result, Campagnolo pulled out of the Mountain Bike market in 1994. Despite its struggles, Campagnolo introduced its ErgoPower combined shifter/brake levers and renewed its focus on high-end road cycling components.
The late 1990s and early 2000s saw Campagnolo's increased use of carbon fibre and titanium parts in groupsets and the development of wheelsets. In 2004, Campagnolo introduced a complete Compact drivetrain with smaller chainrings, to give lower gears than traditional drivetrains. Other innovations included a Hirth-joint engineered Ultra-Torque external-bearing crankset and G3 spoke lacing for racing wheels. In 2008, Campagnolo introduced 11-speed drivetrains with Super Record, Record, and Chorus groupsets. Campagnolo has released an electronic version of its drivetrain
Campagnolo has focused on road cycling and track cycling. Campagnolo has sponsored teams in the UCI ProTour such as Astana, Movistar, Lotto-Soudal, Cofidis, Quick Step-Innergetic (Tom Boonen, Paolo Bettini), and Lampre. Campagnolo is associated with the victories of Eddy Merckx, who used Campagnolo exclusively and was a friend of Tullio Campagnolo.
* thank you to wikipedia for the history of Campagnolo