History of the Microscope

History of the Microscope

Microscopes are an important invention that is still relied heavily upon today across many different industries. The history of the microscope spans hundreds of years, and the famous device has gone through many variations as it evolved. While ancient civilizations such as the Romans were experimenting with the light-bending properties of glass lenses, the microscope’s invention history begins in the late 16th century.

The First Microscope

During the 1590s, two Dutch spectacle makers, Hans and Zacharias Janssen, began experimenting with glass magnifying lenses. Before this point, the world only knew of magnifying glasses with a maximum power of 6-10x magnification.

The two spectacle makers put several magnifying lenses inside of a tube and discovered that objects viewed through the tube were greatly enlarged, much larger than any normal magnifying glass could achieve. Thus the first microscope was born.

However, the first microscopes were more of a novelty that was not used for any sort of scientific purpose, as the image produced by the microscope was blurry. It wasn’t until the 17th century that this changed.

Single Lens Microscope

In the late 17th century, a Dutch draper and scientist by the name of Antony Van Leeuwenhoek became the first person to make and use a microscope for a scientific purpose.

By grinding and polishing a small glass ball, Leeuwenhoek was able to make a lens that could achieve 270x magnification, a feat unheard of at the time. With his microscope, he was able to discover the presence of bacteria, blood cells, yeast, and other microscopic creatures.

Learn More

The history of the microscope has seen many advances over the years. If you are interested in learning more about microscopes or wish to obtain one, view our large selection of microscopes by application.