Anthology of Italian Physics (1855-1944)
Pacinotti Antonio (1841 - 1912)
Papers on line:
A. Pacinotti, Descrizione di macchinetta elettro-magnetica del Dott. Antonio Pacinotti, Il Nuovo Cimento, 19 (1863), 378-384.
A. Pacinotti, Antonio Pacinotti commemorazione letta dal Socio Guido Grassi, Il Nuovo Cimento, 6 (1913), 149-158.
Papers in Il Nuovo Cimento:
papers by Antonio Pacinotti
Antonio Pacinotti was born in Pisa on June, 17, 1841.

From his father, Luigi Pacinotti, a Professor of Technical Physics and Experimental Mechanics in Pisa, he learned the first mathematical elements. He also attended to courses of Mathematics given by his father.

He took the degree in Physics on 1861 at the University of Pisa

Pacinotti has been:
  • Pupil of Riccardo Felici at the University of Pisa from 1856 to 1857
  • Assistant of Technical Physics at the University of Pisa (starting from 1859)
  • Voluntary in the Italian Indipendence war (1859)
  • Assistant of the Professor of Astronomy G.B. Donati (starting from 1862)
  • Professor of Physics at the Technical Institute (high school institute) in Bologna by the end of 1864
  • Full Professor of Physics at the University of Cagliari on March, 1873
  • Professor of Technical Physics at the University of Pisa (starting from December 1881)
  • Professor of Architecture and rural Hydraulics for several years
  • Member of the Academy of Lincei on 1898
  • Senator of Italian Parliament on 1905
  • President of Italian electro-technical Society on 1911
Pacinotti died in Pisa on March, 24, 1912.


According to Guido Grassi, author of Pacinotti's commemoration in "Il Nuovo Cimento", Pacinotti wrote many papers; among them Grassi stresses the importance of:
  • a memoire in "Il Nuovo Cimento" on electric currents produced by heat and light (1863-1864)
  • a memoire in "Il Nuovo Cimento" which describes the dynamo (1865)
  • a paper on vaporisation of liquids (1871)
  • a paper published in "Il Nuovo Cimento" entitled "On use of transversal electromagnets for the electromagnetical riproduction of the angles" (1873)
  • a paper in "Il Nuovo Cimento" entitled " On Electricity given by friction of pairs " (1874-1875)
In "Il Nuovo Cimento" Pacinotti wtrote 34 papers; among them:
  • 12 on Electromagnetism
  • 6 on Electricty
  • 2 on Earth Sciences


Altough Pacinotti spent most of his life as a Physics Professor at the University, his reputation was due to his invention of a new electric generator (dynamo).

The description of his electric generator appeared in a paper published in "Il Nuovo Cimento" on June 1865, and became a key element in the evolution towards the commercial dynamo during the next decade.

In his paper Pacinotti pointed out that his new "macchinetta" (little machine) could be used either as a direct-current motor or as a generator.

A commercial version of the dynamo was developed by Gramme in 1869. For a detailed story see:
  • A. Garbasso "La fisica italiana dopo Alessandro Volta" in: J. de Blasi (ed.) Scienza e poesia, (Florence, 1934), 105-130, pag. 111-112.
  • Giuseppe Giuliani "Il Nuovo Cimento: novant'anni di fisica in Italia 1855-1944" from page 13 to page 18.
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