The Museum of Mathematical Instruments is located in Pisa and is home to a priceless collection that illustrates the history of information technology; through scientific tools and calculators, visitors can discover the road that led to today’s modern mathematical devices.
The exhibition is divided into three sections: one is dedicated to contraptions for experiments, the other two to large and small calculators. Bringing visitors on a discovery of the scientific tools that marked important moments in science, another section highlights tools used for astronomy and objects for measuring time and for demonstrating electromagnetism, mechanics, optics and acoustics, comprising a collection that ranges from the 17th century to today.
The heart of the museum is the space dedicated to calculators, which starts with the most rudimentary and mechanic, like abacuses, rulers and unique slider adding machines, and ends with contemporary electronic calculators and personal computers. The crown jewel of this treasure at the University of Pisa is the collection of large calculators dating to the 1950s and 60s, including the Pisan Electronic Calculator, one of the first built in the country. This immense instrument was designed by Enrico Fermi and was at the centre of the first computer science school in Italy.
A visit to this museum will help visitors learn about the fundamental stops in the evolution of calculators, spanning centuries of history.