Who Invented the Microscope?

A microscope is an instrument used to see tiny things which are otherwise invisible to the naked eye. The word microscope is a combination of two Greek words: mikros "small" and skopos "watcher."

Photography by Kriss Szkurlatowski
Photography by Kriss Szkurlatowski

An object will appear larger the closer it is moves to the human eye. But when it is less than 10 inches, it becomes unfocused. However if a simple convex lens is placed between the eye and the object, it can be brought closer than 10 inches and still remain in focus.

Ordinary magnifying glasses are basically a simple microscope, and they have been used as such since remote times. So when we speak of the invention of the microscope, we really mean the "compound microscope." But today when we refer to a "microscope" the compound microscope is the kind we mean.

The technique of using water-filled glass spheres to produce magnification was known to the Greeks in the 2nd century B.C. In the 10th and 11th centuries A.D. the Arab scientist Alhazen studied the magnification produced by segments of glass spheres.

The first compound microscope was devised by a Dutch maker of spectacles, Zacharias Janssen, in 1590. The first person to make extensive use of the microscope used a simple microscope. He was the Dutch scientist Antony van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723).

About 1684 the Dutch physicist Christiaan Huygens invented a modern type of twin-lens eyepiece. Important improvements in the compound microscope were made by the English scientist Robert Hooke (1635-1703). Major improvements in microscope lenses were made by the German physicist Ernst Abbe (1840-1905).

The electron microscope was developed by two German scientists, Max Knoll and Ernst Ruska, in 1932. Their work was based on the discovery of electron lenses by another German scientist, Hans Busch.

Leeuwenhoek's lenses, powerful as they were for his time, did not have a great magnification. He used simple magnifiers which he mounted himself. The complicated piece of machinery we call a microscope represents a vast improvement in optical achievements and must be well understood by its users. Many have worked up to the microscope by using hand and pocket lenses to magnify things of interest. This prepares them for the fun of viewing a miniature world through the compound microscope.

To study the quill of a porcupine with the aid of a hand lens so that the effective "barb" on its outer end becomes visible, or to view the pollen baskets of the worker bees can be fascinating. But, the real thrill will come when numbers of tiny creatures suddenly become visible through the compound microscope.

Microscope Mechanics

Knowledge of the compound microscope, the name and purpose of each part, is important to the student of microscopy. Starting at the top, you come into contact with the eyepiece, or ocular, which may be on an extension tube of the main tube of the microscope.

At the bottom of the tube are the objectives (a very simple microscope may have only one) which are poised above the stage. There are clips to hold the slide in place on the stage, and a hole in the center through which shines light reflected by a mirror attached above the foot of the microscope. The adjustment knob for raising or lowering the tube is on the microscope arm.

With the aid of the lenses in the microscope, you are actually bringing the object nearer your eye. Depending upon the power of the lenses, you will see the object in various stages of enlargement.

As an example, if the objective magnifies the object 10 diameters- that is, your eye is 10 times nearer to the object - the image it receives is further magnified by the eyepiece which is also 10 times, giving you a magnification of 100 times the object.

Care and skill in handling the microscope are essential. The mechanics of the instrument must be mastered first.

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I can't tell you 7 years ago

I think this has been really good for school work and it's really helpful.


annonymousperson12 7 years ago

This has been helpful and has helped me with my school work thank you!!.X

Savannah Sisad 7 years ago

uhm i don't get it, it's not really helping but okay!

arlinda 7 years ago

who invented the microcope????????

susan 6 years ago

who invented da microscope??????????/ grrrr

Longtail profile image

Longtail 6 years ago Author

Did ya read the article? It's not that long you know.

soleilpabuna 6 years ago

its a very nice answer that I've read.i got a+ at that good shot

what? 6 years ago

so who is the real inventor,Antony van Leeuwenhoek or Robert Hooke or Ernst Abbe or Max Knoll and Ernst Rusk

cow man thing 6 years ago

what does it mean? We are using the compound microscope now or a new version?

khaexie p. veral 6 years ago

ahm..anhue po ung name ng tatlong scientist...

h,cu 6 years ago

who invented the microsope i cant see any names

monica iz crazy 6 years ago

o_O uhhh..... i don't get it

dancingdiva 6 years ago

who accually created the microscope plz tell me i don't know grrrrrrr:o

Longtail profile image

Longtail 6 years ago Author

RTFA... lol. Are you referring to the "first compound microscope"?

If so, read the article again. It's not that hard to see who invented it in 1590.

jennny baker x 6 years ago

Zacharias Janssen invented the microscope god how dumb are u lot

Whoknows... 6 years ago

It really did help a lot. A* :D

jade harris 6 years ago


jennifer ahmed 6 years ago

pls help me out guyz

Best person in the world 6 years ago

Very helpful but who actually invented it ?? someone must have !!good for my science homework

em yr 7 highdown(the best school in the world)

ikeya45 6 years ago

it stinks i did not get one detail

Longtail profile image

Longtail 6 years ago Author

Don't scroll down to the bottom so fast, that way you'll be able to read all the important words.

BiGbUm#55 6 years ago

Thanks! This REALLY helped me with my homework!!!

I got 50 out of 50!!!

holly 6 years ago

this was crap

amarni 6 years ago

this wasn't very helpful i didn't get anything from it it was crap if u have msn add me on ioladoreen98@hotmail.com thankss :) sexxyy

Longtail profile image

Longtail 6 years ago Author

Obviously holly and amarni aren't as clever as BiGbUm#55.

non ya beez  6 years ago

thanks. i guess i get it now. Grrrr im still going to fail. I wish this site had more info.

Siddhant 6 years ago

thank u sooooooo much

BARBARA 6 years ago


Blah 6 years ago

There are better sites in this world.

bob 5 years ago

Great now who invented it!?!

Longtail profile image

Longtail 5 years ago Author

Invented what? The first compound microscope? RTFA

Ren 5 years ago

I think , this is very important to the student to know who invented the microscope.

bryan 5 years ago


wat 5 years ago

who invented the fricken microscope

myestry 5 years ago

thanks helped a lot science homw work

Student 5 years ago

Good article. Very descriptive. If most of you people would READ , it tells you who invented what & the year. you never absorb any info if you don't READ. GAHHH

bob 5 years ago

who invented the microscope

its for my science homework

raquel2011smiley 5 years ago


bethany 5 years ago

it helped a little bit but i have to agree with amarni and holly it was crap

Student 5 years ago


Alara 5 years ago

Erm well that was rubbish cos i typed in in google which scientists invented or were involved with the microscope? (its for my home work by the way) and ALL u told me was ABOUT the microscope ur ment to help gard make it better i can go on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on how rubbish it is!!! R U B B I S H ! ! !

Anonymous2345 5 years ago

Good i guess

Peace 5 years ago

You know if you acualy read it you would have got it! Also, don you got a science book? You know it might help if you read that.

Lotr fan 5 years ago

You r so stupid, can't you read? It shows you exactly who invented it.

eileen 5 years ago

who invented it

ad 5 years ago

it help a bit:)

Katie 4 years ago

Thank you so much! Was having such a hard time with research!

Katie 4 years ago

Post something missy next to me!!!!

U KNOW WHO!!! 4 years ago


love 4 years ago

who is da person discovered da microscope..?we just want to know...

sharicar 4 years ago

thank you so much ....

carla 4 years ago


lina suliman 4 years ago

thanx for the info it helped me on my homework so much

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