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Who Invented the Microscope?

Updated on February 6, 2012

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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    • profile image

      I can't tell you 7 years ago

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

      ;]

    • profile image

      annonymousperson12 7 years ago

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

    • profile image

      Savannah Sisad 7 years ago

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

    • profile image

      arlinda 7 years ago

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

    • profile image

      susan 7 years ago

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

    • Longtail profile image
      Author

      Longtail 7 years ago

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

    • profile image

      soleilpabuna 7 years ago

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

    • profile image

      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

    • profile image

      cow man thing 6 years ago

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

    • profile image

      khaexie p. veral 6 years ago

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

    • profile image

      h,cu 6 years ago

      who invented the microsope i cant see any names

    • profile image

      monica iz crazy 6 years ago

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

    • profile image

      dancingdiva 6 years ago

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

    • Longtail profile image
      Author

      Longtail 6 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      jennny baker x 6 years ago

      Zacharias Janssen invented the microscope god how dumb are u lot

    • profile image

      Whoknows... 6 years ago

      It really did help a lot. A* :D

    • profile image

      jade harris 6 years ago

      COOL WEB XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX HFJAFNKJAH

    • profile image

      jennifer ahmed 6 years ago

      pls help me out guyz

    • profile image

      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)

    • profile image

      ikeya45 6 years ago

      it stinks i did not get one detail

    • Longtail profile image
      Author

      Longtail 6 years ago

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

    • profile image

      BiGbUm#55 6 years ago

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

      I got 50 out of 50!!!

    • profile image

      holly 6 years ago

      this was crap

    • profile image

      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
      Author

      Longtail 6 years ago

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

    • profile image

      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.

    • profile image

      Siddhant 6 years ago

      thank u sooooooo much

    • profile image

      BARBARA 6 years ago

      THIS WAS VERY USEFULL FOR A GREAT SCIENCE STUDENT LIKE MOI I HOPE I GET AN A+.THANKS A lot

    • profile image

      Blah 6 years ago

      There are better sites in this world.

    • profile image

      bob 6 years ago

      Great now who invented it!?!

    • Longtail profile image
      Author

      Longtail 6 years ago

      Invented what? The first compound microscope? RTFA

    • profile image

      Ren 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      bryan 5 years ago

      WHAT IS STM,SEM,

    • profile image

      wat 5 years ago

      who invented the fricken microscope

    • profile image

      myestry 5 years ago

      thanks helped a lot science homw work

    • profile image

      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

    • profile image

      bob 5 years ago

      who invented the microscope

      its for my science homework

    • profile image

      raquel2011smiley 5 years ago

      thx

    • profile image

      bethany 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      Student 5 years ago

      thanks

    • profile image

      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 ! ! !

    • profile image

      Anonymous2345 5 years ago

      Good i guess

    • profile image

      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.

    • profile image

      Lotr fan 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      eileen 5 years ago

      who invented it

    • profile image

      ad 5 years ago

      it help a bit:)

    • profile image

      Katie 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      Katie 5 years ago

      Post something missy next to me!!!!

    • profile image

      U KNOW WHO!!! 5 years ago

      toooooooo long i JUST WANTED TO KNOW WHO INVENTED THE MICROSCOPE.... o_O

    • profile image

      love 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      sharicar 5 years ago

      thank you so much ....

    • profile image

      carla 4 years ago

      hello...............

    • profile image

      lina suliman 4 years ago

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

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