Two notebooks containing work by Leonardo da Vinci, know as the Codices, have been digitally reunited today at the launch of Windows Vista.
The books, compiled from work by da Vinci in the early 1500s, have been seperated for many years. Well, a rather long time actually – since 1519.
The British Library holds one – the Codex Arundel – and the other is privately owned by Bill Gates – the Codex Leicester.
Gates bought his 72-page manuscript back in 1994, when he paid $30,802,500 for it – plus tax. Much to his expected disappointment he didn’t get tax relief on his little purchase, despite letting the Seattle Art Museum display it to the public.
Previous owner of the The Codex Leicester was Armand Hammer, the owner of Occidental Petroleum, who bought it in 1980 and in an incredible act of arrogance renamed it Codex Hammer. Gates returned it to its original name after he coughed up the cash for it.
How does it all works?
The British Library’s Codex has been available electronically for some time using a service that they call Turning The Pages.
It’s been available through a browser as it uses Adobe Shockwave and runs on all platforms.
It’s quite fun to flick through the rather old, and frankly scrappy book seeing Leonardo’s mirror writing and drawings.
There will be very few of you surprised to hear that the newly combined version – Turning The Pages 2 – will only work on computers that are “Microsoft’s ‘Vista Premium Ready’”, that are running Vista or Windows XP Service Pack 2. Anything other than that, needs to refer to the message at the bottom of the page, “Turning the Pages 2.0 will not run on Windows 2000, XP Service Pack 1 or Macintosh at this time.”
The new version does look lush, but I suspect that the team at Microsoft who worked on this project felt that they were walking a knife edge – getting it wrong and not showing off the bosses $30m book would not be a good prospect for promotion.
Why was Bill in London?
Before the event, there’s been much confusion in journalistic circles as to why the Windows Vista launch was going to be held at the British Library. Microsoft could pick any location in the UK Capital to hold their launch.
Now we know.