Bill Gates, BL unveil Leonardo codices online

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Bill Gates and the British Library [have] revealed they were reuniting Leonardo's Codex Arundel with the Codex Leicester, online at least. High resolution versions of the notebooks will allow users to turn the pages for themselves.

The British Library-owned Codex Arundel is the world's second-biggest compilation of Leonardo pages and hardly anyone outside high academic circles has seen it. It features everything from treatises on mechanics and bird flight to drawings of underwater breathing apparatus, as well as riddles, prophecies and notes for himself of the "must buy bucket" variety.

The Codex Leicester was bought by Mr Gates in 1994 for $30m (£15.3m). A third of the writings relate to water, including a discussion on submarine warfare.

Yesterday Mr Gates, Microsoft's chairman, shared the stage with British Library chief executive Lynne Brindley to announce the joint venture, which they said paved the way for new academic discoveries. The announcement was timed, unapologetically, to coincide with the launch of the new Windows operating system, Vista. "The way Leonardo da Vinci combined incomparable genius with the human determination to strive for knowledge and practical improvement is an incredible inspiration," said Mr Gates.

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