With its original design coming to life at the end of the 16th century, and its initial application of use for scientific reasons in the beginning of the 17th century, many scientists and historians of today are still trying to figure out one simple question – Who invented the microscope?
There’s no doubt that the microscope has its root origins set in Middleburg, Holland; modern-day country of the Netherlands. However, a split decision remains among two possible sources to whom the original credit for the microscope can go to. The first recorded person to file a patent for a microscopic lens design was Hans Lippershey. Also a forerunner in the original creation of the microscope is said to be the father-son duo spectacle inventors of Zacharias Janssen, a neighbor of Lippershey in their town of Middleberg, and his father Hans Marten. We can tell from the information provided that the name ‘Hans’ was a very popular and common one among microscopic lens innovators living in Middleberg at the time. The original model of the microscope was known to be binocular, having to look through two lenses, and allowed its spectator to view magnified organisms 3x-9x their size.
Since its birth many feature modifications have been implemented over time, improving and enhancing how we come to view the microscopic world. Galileo Galilei was among the first to improve microscopic observation, in 1609, through implementing a telescopic design as opposed to the previous binocular. This allowed observation through only one eye, resulting in a more focused image.
The next breakthrough in enhancement of microscopic observation occurred roughly 70 years after that of Galilei’s. In the 1670’s Antoine van Leeuwenhoek tremendously impacted microscopic observation through an achieving advancement in magnification, allowing spectators to view organisms up to 270x resolution. Such an improvement lead to Leeuwenhoek’s discoveries of the red blood cell and spermatozoa.
The latest breakthrough in observation innovation occurred in 1933 with the invention of the electron microscope, which finally allowed spectators to view objects even smaller than that of the wavelength of visible light. The advancement to electron microscopes is credited to the pupil-mentor duo of Ernst Ruska and Dr. Max Knoll. Fifty-three years later in 1986, Ruska went on to win the Nobel Prize in Physics for his contribution to enhanced resolution. Thus, putting an end to a warm closing in our final chapter of microscopic observation so far. What started off as a remarkable creation based on the intellectual bond of father and son went on throughout history to become fully advanced today by similar bond – that of teacher and student.
In the grand spectrum of things, when it comes to something as essential to the modernization of human evolution in intellect, that has been consistently modified to level advancement of civilizations, where can our thanks ultimately go? The same question can be applied when it comes to answering who invented and designed the wheel; our cavemen ancestors or those who industrialized tires for transportation through all forms of terrain?