The history of OGS begins in the 18th century, when Trieste was the capital of the Littoral region of the Habsburg Empire.
Like most scientific and cultural institutions in Trieste, its origins date back to 1753 when, at the request of Empress Maria Theresa of Habsburg, the Jesuits established a "School of Astronomy and Navigation" to meet the traffic and development needs of the port of Trieste after the declaration of free port status in 1719 by Emperor Charles VI.
Since then, the institution has gone through a series of reorganisations and different names:
1753 – School of Astronomy and Navigation
1817 – Imperial Academy of Commerce and Nautical Studies
1841 – Meteorological Observatory
1903 – Maritime Observatory
1921 – Geophysical Institute of Trieste
1941 – Thalassographic Institute of Trieste, equipped in 1949 with the seismic station of Trieste
1949 – Geophysical Observatory of Trieste
1958 – Applied Geophysical Observatory of Trieste - OGS
1989 – Applied Geophysical Observatory
1999 – National Institute of Oceanography and Applied Geophysics - OGS
The acronym OGS has been in use since 1958 and was originally used to indicate the name Osservatorio Geofisico Sperimentale (Applied Geophysical Observatory).