The first binoculars, or field glasses, were essentially twin telescopes, which were used by navigators and soldiers alike. The Dutch lensmaker Hans Lipperhey (also known as Johann Lippershey), who is often credited with inventing the telescope, is thought to have been the first person to pair telescopes to create binoculars in the early 1600s. But the Viennese camera pioneer Johann Voigtländer is also recognized for his individually focused paired telescopes, which he created in 1823. Improvements to binoculars in the second half of the 19th century included a central-focusing mechanism and the use of prisms to correct the inversion of images produced by more powerful lenses.

Today, vintage military binoculars used by soldiers in conflicts such as World War II are much prized by collectors of militaria. Naturalists and birders go for binoculars made by Carl Zeiss, Leica, Bushnell, and Swarovski.


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