omniORB was originally developed at Olivetti Research Ltd (often known as ORL). It was initially intended just for use on small embedded devices, communicating with commercial ORBs on desktop and server machines. It soon became clear, however, that omniORB was better than any of the commercial ORBs available at that time, so its use spread to many machines and projects throughout the laboratory.
On 12 May 1997, omniORB version 2.2.0 was released to the world under the GNU Library General Public License, ensuring its continued availability to the CORBA community. You can see the original announcement courtesy of Google's USENET archive.
Over the years, Olivetti Research became first Olivetti and Oracle Research Ltd (still known as ORL) and then, in 1999, it became AT&T Laboratories Cambridge. Throughout these changes, omniORB development continued, with eleven public releases plus numerous betas and development snapshots. omniORB is now used by many thousands of developers around the world, and is deployed in countless applications.
Many people have expressed surprise at how small the omniORB development team was. The largest it ever became was five people. The following were part of the team at one time or another: Sai-Lai Lo, Duncan Grisby, David Riddoch, James "Wez" Weatherall, David Scott, Tristan Richardson, Eoin Carroll, David Evers, and Christof Meerwald.
On 24 April 2002, AT&T Laboratories Cambridge closed as part of AT&T's global research cuts. With the lab's closure, omniORB became an independent project, but several of the original developers continue their involvement.
You can get more information about ORL, its projects and the people who worked there at www.xorl.org. Parts of the lab's website, including pages about omniORB, are preserved at here, hosted courtesy of the Digital Technology Group at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory.