Museo Galileo
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Joseph von Fraunhofer

Born in Straubing (Germany), von Fraunhofer was the son of an impoverished master glassmaker, in whose workshop he was apprenticed at an early age. In 1802, after a failed venture as a spectacle-maker, he was hired by the optical workshop of the Munich Institute of Mathematics and Mechanics, directed by Georg van Reichenbach (1771-1826) and Joseph von Utzscheneider (1763-1840). The Institute sent Fraunhofer to be trained in techniques of optical-glass fusion. In 1809, he became director of the glassworks. Later, he received the honorific title of professor. Thanks to his contribution, the Bavarian manufacture of scientific instruments achieved a higher reputation in the 1820s than that of London. Fraunhofer himself combined an admirable mastery of craftsmanship with a deep knowledge of the laws of optics, developed through daily working practice.

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