We cant manage to see tiny particles from our naked eye. A device that is used for this particular purpose is called a Microscope. Microscopes have been around for quite a long time and have a long history related to scientific researches, various discoveries and developments of various objects. 

History of Microscope

In the olden times, a magnifying glass was used to make small items visible to the human eye. Then, with the invention of new lenses and new optical instruments and techniques, microscopes came into existence. 

The first microscope was invented in 1590 by Leeuwenhoek. He used a single-lens microscope for his research works. Although he was the first person to use a microscope in researches, he did not have any idea about the magnification of it. He called it ‘The Little Eye’.

The first compound microscope was invented by Anthony Van Eyck in the 1600s. It was of the same structure as that of any modern compound microscope. Then, in the 17th century, another type of the microscope was invented by Isaac Newton. It was a compound microscope that consisted of a single lens with a prism and was named as ‘Newtonian microscope’.

In 1873 Ernst Abbe developed the most important microscope, which is the Abbe Refracting Microscope. Just like any modern microscope, it had three components- an objective lens, an eyepiece and at one point there was a diaphragm between them. It was a very precise and sensitive scientific instrument that became the model for many new designs of microscopes in the future.

The first-ever binocular microscope was invented in 1827 by Chester Moor Hall. The instrument consisted of two separate microscopes that were placed side-by-side, which removed the light distortion and produced a magnified image of an object without any difficulty.

Then, in the late 18th century, N.Muller developed a microscope that had two lenses and it was called a ‘compound microscope’. This microscope could produce a much higher magnification with an improved optical view. It was frequently used in research works and various experiments.

In the 20th century, an independent optical system that could be attached to a camera lens was developed by Fleming Jenkin. This was a device that made it possible for scientists and researchers to use microscopes as a camera.

The latest microscope that has been developed is the scanning electron microscope which was invented by Max Knoll and Ernst Ruska in the year 1939. It is used to study surface structures of various objects at magnifications up to 2 million times. It uses a beam of electrons that are shot onto the sample from an electron gun and produces images by detecting the fluorescent light given off by the electrons falling onto a phosphor screen placed behind the object.

Interesting Facts on Microscopes

Here are some interesting facts about this instrument.

1- At early ages, people used to think that any illness that occurred was the outcome of gases or demons. After the invention of the microscope, those beliefs started to wane away because people could visualize bacteria and viruses.  

2- The first microscope invented was nicknamed ‘Flea Glasses’. However, there is a debate as to who was the pioneer in inventing this machine. Some believe that Zacharias was the creator while others think that it was Cornelis Drebbel. 

3- The name “Microscope” was created by Giovanni Faber to indicate Galileo Galilei’s compound microscope.

4- Eyepiece and objective are the two lenses that are used in compound microscopes. One is at the eye, and another one is nearest to the sample. 

5- A book published by Robert Hooke included images (drawn by hands) for samples that have been seen under the lens of a microscope. The name of the book was Micrographia.    

6- A microscope can magnify an object up to 500 times. 

7- The structure of a microscope is divided into two main parts. The optical system and the mechanical system. The mechanical part includes the components used for moving or controlling the objective, which is used to focus or adjust the optical system. The optical part includes components used for producing an image, usually in real-time, with protozoa and/or microorganisms.

8- Studying cork under a microscope, Robert Hooke generated the discovery of cells. This discovery was considered the start of microscopy.

9- Microscopes are also used to examine or observe any sample that is too small to be seen with the naked eye. For example, pollen under a microscope.

10- Marcello Malpighi picked out the identification of red blood cells and taste buds. He is the father of microscopic anatomy. Microscopic anatomy has since flourished into many other related divisions.

11- Microscopes made of glass are still in use, but have been replaced by electron microscopes for viewing samples that are smaller than 100 nanometers. Electron microscopes can produce images with more than 2 million pixels, while light microscopes are limited to around 100,000-200,000 pixels.

12- Scientists who work on advanced microscopes usually focus on the field of biomedical engineering or biophysics. An example includes using microscopes to examine blood for leukemia or other forms of cancer. 

13- The objective lenses that were invented are the most important tool in the microscope. It is the part that helps to amplify the image of a sample so that it can be seen with high definition. Objectives come in different shapes and sizes.

14- Many important innovations have been made in the field of Microscopy. One of them is the invention by Ernst Abbe, who made a simple microscope that was used for viewing transparent samples (nonporous materials).

15- The discoveries of a microscope include the discovery of the function of bacteria in the stomach, the discovery of blood vessels, and the discovery of cells.

16- A German physician and a microbiologist were attributed for bringing light to Cholera Bacilli tuberculosis. 

18- The purpose of using a microscope is not limited. It can be used to diagnose illnesses, medical researches, biological resources, scientific researches and environmental scientific researches.  

19- To create the magnified image, an electron microscope utilizes electrons instead of light.

20-  In the 1980s, scanning probe microscope was invented by Heinrich and Gerd Binnig.

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The microscope has had a very important role in the field of science, and its importance has only increased with time. The microscope has revolutionized our understanding of the dimensions of the human body, cells, and other objects. It can be used to study small objects as well as complex computer programs and chemical processes.

 I hope this article provided a comprehensive understanding of Microscopes.


Q. Why is the microscope important?

A. Importance of a microscope relates to various life discoveries including cells, tissues and micro-organisms. It also helps in the formation of bacteria and viruses. It is used in medical studies, biological research, environmental research and scientific researches.

Q. What are the three major parts of the microscope?

A. The three major parts of the microscope are:
1. Objective Lens
2. Eyepiece Lens
3. The Underlying Mechanical System

Q. What Is the working principle of the microscope? 

A. The working principle of the microscope is divided into two main parts, namely, an optical system or the lenses and a mechanical system. The mechanical system is comprised of the components used for moving or controlling the objective, which is used to focus or adjust the optical system. 

Q. What are the different types of microscopes?

A. There are three major types of microscopes: compound, stereo and digital. A compound microscope has two or more lenses. This microscope is designed to produce a larger image of the studied object, making it possible to see details that can’t be seen with the naked eye. 

A stereo microscope is used to view an object by only using one lens and it is mostly used for viewing transparent samples (non-porous materials). A digital microscope has a digital image in the form of a video. Most of those microscopes are used for medical researches, biological resources and environmental scientific researches.

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