Who invented the microscope?

This week, the Inquisitive Iguanas researched who the inventor of the microscope was. We learned that there is a lot of debate about this. From the 1500's to the early 1700's, there were several different scientists who built microscope-like inventions. The most famous was the Dutch scientist Antoni van Leeuwenhoek. However, this is not because his microscopes were invented first, but because of the important scientific discoveries he made with them. For example, van Leeuwenhoek was the first person ever to describe single-celled organisms, which he saw with the microscopes he made. So although van Leeuwenhoek is considered by most people to be the first microbiologist, he wasn't really the inventor of the microscope. The kind of microscopes van Leeuwenhoek was using-- a simple single-lens microscope-- had been around for more than a century before van Leeuwenhoek built his in 1674. Van Leeuwenhoek did design the better lenses that made higher magnification possible, though.

Nobody knows who built the first single-lens microscope. However, we do know who built the first compound microscope using multiple lenses (like modern microscopes do today.) That was Zaccharias and Hans Janssen, in 1590. So in our opinion, Zaccharias and Hans Janssen deserve the title of inventors of the microscope, and Antoni van Leeuwenhoek deserves an honorable mention for inventing the lenses.

Here are our Internet sources about the invention of the microscope:
History of Microscopes, Wikipedia: Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, and The History of the Microscope.

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