It might not be a surprise for those who know Italian, but the name of the famous dish literally means "whore's style spaghetti!" The dish was invented in the mid-20th century. However, there is no consensus on what the real origin of the dish is. The earliest known mention of the dish is in a 1961 Italian novel.
It mentions "spaghetti alla puttanesca as they make it in Syracuse." A 1971 edition of a cook book has a similar recipe with no name. A writer for an Italian newspaper says that sugo alla puttanesca was invented in the 50's by Sandro Petti, the co-owner of a famous restaurant in the island of Ischia.