The microscopes of Antoni van Leeuwenhoek



The seventeenth-century Dutch microscopist, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, was the first man to make a protracted study of microscopical objects, and, unlike his contemporary Robert Hooke, he viewed by transmitted light. Leeuwenhoek made over 500 of his own, curious, simple microscopes, but now only nine are known to exist. The exact nature of the lenses Leeuwenhoek made, has for long been a puzzle. The existing microscopes have now been examined in detail, and their optical characteristics measured and tabulated. It is proposed that the lens of highest magnification, x 266, was made using a special blown bubble technique.