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At the end of this long yet not exhaustive historical review, one is left with the feeling that everything was already known since long ago. It is sufficient to have a quick look to the important steps in our scientific understanding of the Coma cluster, before 1980:

At the time they were produced, many of these early results needed firm confirmation, that eventually came from more (and more accurate) data; on the other hand, our theoretical understanding of these observational evidences is still far from complete. However, it seems to me that the picture of a dynamically young Coma cluster was already contained in these early results. So, maybe a more appropriate choice for this conference title could have been: "An Old Vision of a New Cluster".


This paper is dedicated to my wife Patrizia, for sharing my busy life of wandering astronomer.

No historical review is unbiased. I apologize for the excessive emphasis I may have put on my personal results, and for all other people's results that I have misquoted or forgotten to mention.

I wish to thank Fabienne Casoli, Florence Durret, Daniel Gerbal, Alain Mazure, for the perfect organization of this conference. I thank Michael West for pointing out to me Herschel's work on the Coma cluster. I acknowledge the hospitality of the Trieste Astronomical Observatory, where a significant part of my bibliographic research was done.

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