For an instrument designed to focus on small details, the origins of the microscope are surprisingly fuzzy. A Dutch spectacle maker named Zacharias Janssen probably devised the principle leading to the compound microscope in the early 17th century, which is also when Galileo Galilei made his first device, which was dubbed a “microscope” by Giovanni Faber. Another Dutchman, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, improved the microscope’s lens so much so that his design persisted well into the following century, when Isaac Newton built a reflecting microscope. Other names associated with early microscopes are Robert Hooke, Guiseppe Campani, John Marshall, and Edmund Culpeper.


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