Apparently this was a couple of years ago but I recently found out that the town of Vinci where Leonardo Da Vinci was born has put the contents of the Madrid Codices and the Codex Atlanticus online. They are also planning to put online digital copies of the Windsor folios and 12 notebooks from the Institut de France for a total of 12,000 pages. Here is a relevant excerpt from Wired.
While the digital notebooks offer advantages to make academics sob with joy — semantic search functions, clustered results — most of them vanish without a working knowledge of 15th-century Italian. (Forms in English are expected in about two months; an index of drawings in English is expected by year’s end.)
To index Leonardo’s designs and irregular vocabulary, text-mining company Synthema teamed up with engineers from the University of Florence and the Accademia della Crusca, Italy’s national language institute founded in 1582.
“Leonardo had a very modern way of jumbling things together, a true multitasker,” says Federico Neri, head of R&D at Synthema. “There are technical specifications next to shopping lists. Finding anything used to be mining in a literal sense.” Neri hopes to eventually develop a multilanguage version to help readers explore the notebooks.
Nonetheless, there are plenty of curiosities for the lay reader.
Even a quick spin may turn up, as it did on a recent once-over of the Codex Atlanticus, the spring-propelled vehicle thought to be a precursor to Mars rovers. And the high-resolution images are arguably as close as one will get to the real thing unless you’re Bill Gates.
There are references to a sketch in the Codex Atlanticus showing the backside of Leonardo’s comely assistant, Salaino, with penises speeding at him. When an e-Leo user’s attempts to find it fail, Taddei recites a folio number from memory with the cool aplomb of a professional used to stewarding odd requests.
The URL for the e-Leo project is as follows: http://www.leonardodigitale.com/ Registration is required but its free.