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Museo degli Strumenti per il Calcolo, Pisa

The Museum of Mathematical Instruments

A world of scientific instruments owned by the University of Pisa, including many historical calculation devices

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In a perfect unity of art and science, the Museum of Mathematical Instruments in Pisa, a few hundred metres from Piazza dei Miracoli, offers visitors a full overview of the main stages that have marked the history of calculation.


The Museum is home to a wealth of scientific heritage, which ranges from the 18th century to the present day. The two main collections feature historical scientific instruments and machines linked to the history of informatics.


The first collection includes scientific instruments used in physics and astronomy in the 18th, 19th and the first half of the 20th century; for instance, the Fondo Pacinotti, with inventions by the Pisan scientist, featuring the famous “Macchinetta” (little machine), the Thomas arithmomètre (1850) and the Burroughs (1895), Carlo Matteucci’s commutator and the C.E.P. (Pisan Electronic Calculator linked to Enrico Fermi). In addition to the instruments, there are also important archives: Pacinotti, the Fermi-Persico Archive and the Riccardo Felici Archive.


The informatics collection, the only one in Italy and well-known at an international level, ranges from 19th-century arithmometers to the great calculators of the 1950-90s and includes unique pieces, like the Pisan Electronic Calculator (1961), around which the first Italian informatics school was formed, as well as copies of the adding machine and simulators of the Macchina Ridotta (Reduced Machine - 1957), which was the first calculator designed and made in Italy in Pisa.

There are electrical, acoustic, electromagnetic, measuring, optical and mechanical instruments on display. 


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