"Maths machines" are tools to draw curves and solve problems. They are mechanisms to produce geometrical transformations, models to illustrate theorems or geometrical configurations, etc. After testing the prototipes to prove the efficiency in didactics, a number of machines have been built freely adapting them from the scientific and technical literature going from classical Greece to beginning of '900. The focus of the collection is on didactics and up to now this has defined the strong anthological configuration of the collection itself.

In the learning process many are the advantages when using the maths machines: they arise interest, strengthen intuition and imagination, enable a better understanding of the link between reality and model, lead to the concept of demonstration, put students in direct contact with new or unusual geometric facts related to movement, etc. Nevertheless the most important advantage is, as observed, that the usage of these machines naturally leads into a historical dimension both teachers, students and anybody who's curious to understand meaning and functioning, and question himself about the relationship between maths, society and culture. This way, the risk "clearly present in the scietific ideology: dimish history, destroy the past" is avoided.

Because these machines are "mathematical", they are strictly related to virtual models (computer simulations). Wether the machines highlight the relationship between physical and mathematical models, the differences, higly important from the historic and didactic point of view, can also be derived. The handling of the 3D object appears to be richer in contents and stimulations than any computer simulation. Nevertheless, we still suggest to introduce and compare the two kinds of models in oreder to stimulate and enhance the observation.