Timeline of microscopy

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This is a timeline of microscopy, describing important events in the history and development of the technology.

Big picture

Time period Development summary
13th century The development of lenses in eyeglasses probably leads to the wide spread use of simple microscopes (single lens magnifying glasses) with limited magnification.[1]"[2]
14th century Spectacles are first made in Italy.[2]
17th century Before the century, almose no one suspected there was life too small to see with the naked eye, with fleas thought to be the smallest possible form of life.[3] Johannes Kepler is generally considered by neuroscentists as the first to recognize that images are projected, inverted and reversed by the eye's lens onto the retina.[4] "Then, in the mid 17th century, an Englishman, Robert Hooke and a Dutchman, Anthony Van Leeuwenhoek took the microscope to new levels"[2]
18th century Looking through lenses becomes very popular, with many having a microscope when able to afford.[5]
19th century Achromatic microscopes are invented in the first half of the century.[5]
20th century The first electron microscope is invented by Max Knoll and Ernst Ruska, blasting past the optical limitations of the light. By the late 1930s, electron microscopes with theoretical resolutions of 10 nm are designed and produced.[6] The second major development for microscopes in the 20th century is the evolution of the mass market.[2] The 1960s through the 1990s produce many innovative instruments and trends on electron microscopy.[6] In the 1970s, sufficient information on ultrastructural pathology becomes accumulated to allow the use of the electron microscope as a diagnostic tool.[7]
21st century Dino-Lite Digital microscopes become one of the more original innovations since the 21st century. Dino-Lite are handheld digital microscopes.[2]

Full timeline

Year Event type Details Location
~700 BC Ancient Egyptians and Mesopotamians start polishing quartz crystals as an attempt to replicate optical habilities of water. The Nimrud lens is on of the most famous examples.[4][2] Egypt, Irak
167 BC Simple microscopes made of a lens and a water-filled tube to visualize the unseen are developed in China.[8]" China
100 AD Glass is invented and the Romans looking through the glass and test it, discovering that if helding one of these “lenses” over an object, the object would look larger.[9]
~1000 AD Chinese elderly monks use the reading stones, which are considered the first vision aids.[10][11][12][2] China
~1021 AD Arab physicist Ibn al-Haytham writes his Book of Optics, the result of investigations based on experimental evidence. The book would eventually transform how light and vision are understood.[13][14][2] Middle East
1267 English philosopher Roger Bacon suggests the idea of the telescope and the microscope.[3] United Kingdom
1284 Salvino D’Armate from Italy is credited with inventing the first wearable eye glasses.[2][10] Italy
14th century Spectacles are first made in Italy.[2] Italy
1590 Dutch spectacle makers, Zaccharias Janssen and his father Hans develop both telescopes and microscopes, while experimenting with several lenses in a tube, including the first practical microscope with a magnification range of three times to nine times.[9][15][16][17] Netherlands
1609 Italian scientist Galileo Galilei develops a compound microscope, with a convex and a concave lenses both fitting into a tube.[5][2][18] Italy
1619 Earliest recorded description of a compound microscope by Dutch inventor Cornelius Drebbel, presented in London. The instrument ia about eighteen inches long, two inches in diameter, and supported on 3 brass dolphins.[19][20][21]
1625 German papal doctor Giovanni Faber first coins the name microscope.[2] Germany
1665 English physicist Robert Hooke observes living cells and publishes Micrographia, in which he coins the term ‘cells’ when describing tissue. The book outlines Hooke's various studies using the microscope.[2][3]
1675 Dutch scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek manages to use a microscope with one lens to observe insects and other specimen. Leeuwenhoek is the first to observe bacteria.[2][3]
1830 British physicist Joseph Jackson Lister develops a method to construct lens systems avoiding the effects of spherical aberration.[22][23][24] United Kingdom
1830 Achromatic microscopes are invented.[5]
1833 Scottish scientist Robert Brown becomes the first to describe his observation of the nucleus in plant cells.[5]
1839 Organization The Royal Microscopical Society is founded in London. United Kingdom
1841 Literature (journal) The Journal of Microscopy is first published by the Royal Microscopical Society. United Kingdom
1850s American scientist John Leonard Riddell at {{w|Tulane University}, develops the first practical binocular microscope.[25][26][27]
1863 English microscopist Henry Clifton Sorby pioners the use of metallurgical microscope for inverstigating the microstructures of a variety of materials.[28][29] United Kingdom
1860s German physicist Ernst Abbe discovers the Abbe sine condition, a breakthrough in microscope design, which until then was largely based on trial and error.[30] Germany
1878 Ernst Abbe develops a mathematical theory linking resolution to light wavelength.[2] Germany
1879 German biologist Walter Flemming discovers cell mitosis and chromosomes, a scientifc achievement recognized as one of the most importants of all time.[2]
1880 The first microtomes begin to be used enabling significantly thinner samples to be prepared in order to improve sample.[2]
1893 German professo August Köhler achieves an almost perfect image by designing a new method of illumination which uses a perfectly defocused image of the light source to illuminate the sample. The now called Kohler illumination turns an unparalleled illumination system. Using double diaphragms, the system provides triple benefits of a uniformly illuminated specimen, a bright image and minimal glare. [2] Germany
1900 The theoretic limit of resolution for visible light microscopes (2000 Å) is reached. [2]
1903 Austrian-Hungarian chemist Richard Zsigmondy develops the ultra-microscope, which allows the study objects below the wavelenght of light.[2][10] Austria
1904 Carl Zeiss introduces the first commercial UV microscope with resolution twice that of a visible light microscope.[2]
1928 Irish physicist Edward Hutchinson Synge publishes his theory underlying the near-field scanning optical microscope.[31][32][33]
1931 German physicist Ernst Ruska along with Max Kroll at the Berlin Technische Hochschule develop the transmission electron microscope.[7][34][35][36] Germany
1932 Dutch physicist Frits Zernike invents the phase-contrast microscope, which allows for the first time the study of transparent biological materials.[2] Netherlands
1932 Frits Zernike develops phase contrast illumination, which allows the imaging of transparent samples. By using interference rather than absorption of light, transparent samples, such as cells, can be imaged without having to use staining techniques.[2] Netherlands
1936 German physicist Erwin Wilhelm Müller invents the field emission microscope.[34][2][37][38] Germany
1937 German physicist Manfred Von Ardenne in Berlin produces the earliest scanning-transmission electron microscope.[6] Germany
1938 Cecil Hall, James Hillier, and Albert Prebus at the University of Toronto, working under the direction of Eli Burton, produce the advanced Toronto Model electron microscope that would later become the basis for Radio Corporation of America's Model B, the first commercial electron microscope in North America.[6] Canada
1938 Ernst Ruska at Siemens produces the firt commercial electron microscope in the world.[2] Germany
1938 Canadian-American scientist and James Hillier designs and builds, with Albert Prebus, the first successful high-resolution electron microscope in North America.[39] Canada
1939 Siemens launches the first commercial electron microscope.[4] Germany
1930 Dutch physicist Frits Zernike discovers he could view unstained cells using the phase angle of rays,and invents the phase contrast microscope. His innovartion would not introduced until.[2][40] Netherlands
1942 Ernst Ruska improves on the transmission electron microscope (previously buil by Knoll and Ruska) by building built the first scanning electron microscope (SEM) that transmits a beam of electrons across the specimen.[2]
1942 E.F Burton and W.Kohl publish The Electron Microscope.[41]
1942 Organization The Microscopy Society of America is founded. United States
1944 Electron microscopes with theoretical resolutions reduced to 2 nm are introduced.[6]
1949 Organization The German Society for Electron Microscopy is founded. Germany
1948 The Nordic Microscopy Society is founded in Stockholm. Sweden
1949 Organization The Swiss Society for Optics and Microscopy is formed. Switzerland
1951 German physicist Wilhelm Müller invents the field ion microscope and becomes the first to see atoms.[3][38] Germany
1951 Organization The International Federation of Societies for Microscopy is founded.[42]
1953 Frits Zernike is awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics "for his demonstration of the phase contrast method, especially for his invention of the phase contrast microscope.[43]
1955 Polish physicist Georges Nomarski publishes the theoretical basis of Differential interference contrast microscopy. An optical microscopy technique used to enhance the contrast in unstained, transparent samples.[44][45][46] France
1956 Organization The Italian Society of Microscopical Sciences is founded.[47] Italy
1957 American cognitive scientist Marvin Minsky patents the principle of confocal imaging. Using a scanning point of light, confocal microscopy gives slightly higher resolution than conventional light microscopy and makes it easier to view ‘virtual slices’ through a thick specimen.[2]
1957 Organization The Belgian Comitee of Electron Microscopy is founded.[48] Belgium
1962 Osamu Shimomura, Frank Johnson and Yo Saiga discover green fluorescent protein (GFP) in the jellyfish Aequorea victoria. GFP fluoresces bright green when exposed to blue light.[49][2]
1965 The Israel Society for Microscopy is founded.[50] Israel
1967 Erwin Wilhelm Müller adds time-of-flight spectroscopy to the field ion microscope, and develops the atom probe field ion microscope.[38][38] United States
1971 Organization The Turkish Society for Electron Microscopy is founded.
1972 English engineer Godfrey Hounsfield and South African physicist Allan Cormack develop the computerized axial tomography (CAT) scanner (later known as CT scan). With the help of a computer, the device combines many X-ray images to generate cross-sectional views as well as three-dimensional images of internal organs and structures.[2][51][52][53]
1973 "John Venables and CJ Harland observe electron backscatter patterns (EBSP) in the scanning electron microscope. EBSP provide quantitative microstructural information about the crystallographic nature of metals, minerals, semiconductors and ceramics."[2]
1975 The Microscopical Society of Ireland is founded. Ireland
1976 Organization The Committee of European Societies of Electron Microscopy is founded.
1978 German scientists Thomas and Christoph Cremer design a laser scanning process which scans an object using a focused laser beam and creates the over-all picture by electronic means similar to those used in scanning electron microscopes.[54][2]
1981 German physicist Gerd Binnig and Swiss physicist Heinrich Rohrer develop the scanning tunneling microscope (STM), used for imaging surfaces at the atomic level.[55] The STM ‘sees’ by measuring interactions between atoms, rather than by using light or electrons. It can visualise individual atoms within materials.[2]
1981 Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer invent the scanning tunneling microscope, making 3-D specimen images possible.[2]
1986 The Nobel Prize in Physics is awarded jointly to Ernst Ruska (for his work on the electron microscope), along with Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer (for the scanning tunnelling microscope).[2]
1986 Gerd Binnig, Christoph Gerber and Calvin Quate invent the atomic force microscope (AFM).
1988 Alfred Cerezo, Terence Godfrey, and George D. W. Smith invent the atom probe tomograph, making it able to resolve materials in 3-dimensions with near-atomic resolution.[56][57][58]
1988 Japanese scientist Kingo Itaya invents the electrochemical scanning tunneling microscope.[59]
1991 The Kelvin probe force microscope is invented.[60][61][62]
1991 Japanese physicist Sumio Iijima discovers the presence of carbon nanotubes in soot produced by vaporization of carbon in an electric arc. The finding would spark interest in carbon nanostructures and their applications.[34] Japan
1992 American molecular biologist Douglas Prasher reports the cloning of green fluorescent protein (GFP). This opens the way to widespread use of GFP and its derivatives as labels for fluorescence microscopy (particularly confocal laser scanning fluorescence microscopy).[2] United States
1993–1996 German physicist Stefan Hell pioneers a new optical microscope technology that allows the capture of images with a higher resolution than was previously thought possible. This results in a wide array of high-resolution optical methodologies, collectively termed super-resolution microscopy.[2]
1995 Literature (journal) Scientific journal Microscopy and Microanalysis is established. United States
1998 The European Microscopy Society is founded.[63]
2010 Researchers at University of California, Los Angeles use a cryoelectron microscope to see the atoms of a virus.[2]
2014 The Nobel Prize in Chemistry is awarded to Eric Betzig, Stefan Hell and William Moerner “for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy”, allowing microscopes to now ‘see’ matter smaller than 0.2 micrometres.[2]

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External links


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