The Microscope Timeline

  • 1000 BCE

    The First Vision Aid - The Starting of the Invention of the Microscope

    "The first vision aid was invented (inventor unknown) called a reading stone. It was a glass sphere that magnified when laid on top of reading materials."
  • Aug 9, 1500

    Fleas glasses

    Fleas glasses allowed for examination of small creatures such as the flea. More of an entertainment device than a scientific instrument.
    Fun Fact: The earliest microscopes were known as “flea glasses” because they were used to study small insects.
  • The First Microscope.

    Major Event: "Dutch lens grinders Hans and Zacharias Jansen make the first microscope by placing two lenses in a tube."
    Fun Fact: "Optical microscope invention and the first microscopes. It is widely believed that Dutch spectacle makers, Zacharias Jansen and his father Hans were responsible for making the first compound microscope in the late 16th century (Z Janssen c. 1580 - 1638)."
  • Cells Are Made Known

    Major Event:
    "In the mid 1600s, English scientist Robert Hooke made 1 of the most significant discoveries using a microscope. He observed and named cells. Before the microscopes, people did not know that living things are made of cells."
    Fun Fact: "In January 1665, Robert Hooke’s book called, Micrographia was published. In it he mainly described his observations with microscopes and telescopes. Micrographia became the first scientific best-seller. It is famous for first use of the word cell."
  • Improvements On The Microscopes

    Major Event: "In the late 1600s the Dutch merchant Anton van Leeuwenhoek made improvements to the first microscopes. His microscope had 1 lens and could magnify an image about 270 times it original size. This made it easier to view organisms.
    Fun Fact: "Anton van Leeuwenhoek was the first to discover bacteria, protozoa, rotifers, spermatozoa, Hydra and Volvox as well as parthenogenesis in aphids."
  • Even Better Microscopes

    Major Event: "Several technical innovations make microscopes better and easier to handle, which leads to microscopy becoming more and more popular among scientists. An important discovery is that lenses combining two types of glass could reduce the chromatic effect, with its disturbing halos resulting from differences in refraction of light."
  • The Light Microscope

    "The modern light compound microscope was invented."
  • The Ultramicroscope

    Major Event: "Richard Zsigmondy developed the ultramicroscope that could study objects below the wavelength of light. He won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1925."
  • The Electron Microscope

    Major Event: "Ernst Ruska co-invented the electron microscope for which he won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1986. An electron microscope depends on electrons rather than light to view an object, electrons are speeded up in a vacuum until their wavelength is extremely short, only one hundred-thousandth that of white light. Electron microscopes make it possible to view objects as small as the diameter of an atom."
  • The Phase-Contrast Microscope

    Frits Zernike invented the phase-contrast microscope that allowed for the study of colorless and transparent biological materials for which he won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1953.
  • The STM

    Major Event: The STM was invented it. It can magnify an object 1,000,000 times. The scanning tunneling microscope (STM) is a type of electron microscope that shows three-dimensional images of a sample. In the STM, the structure of a surface is studied using a stylus that scans the surface at a fixed distance from it.
  • Scanning Tunneling Microscope

    "Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer invented the scanning tunneling microscope that gives three-dimensional images of objects down to the atomic level. Binnig and Rohrer won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1986. The powerful scanning tunneling microscope is the strongest microscope to date."
  • Microscopes Today

    "The microscopes used today are more advanced than the microscopes used by Leeuwenhoek and Hooke. The quality of today's light microscopes have made the invention of electron microscopes have made the microscope a useful tool in many fields."