Microscopes Brief biography of the founders

Robert Hooke...

Photo of Robert Hooke

Early life:

Robert Hooke was born on the Isle of Wight, England on July 28, 1635. In 1653, aged 18, he enrolled at the University of Oxford’s Christ Church College, where he studied experimental science and became a chorister. Aged 20, in 1655, Hooke’s career took a further turn towards science.


His abilities in working with mechanical instruments had become very refined, and he secured work in Oxford as an assistant to a founder of modern chemistry – Robert Boyle. Hooke worked with Boyle for seven years; during this time Boyle uncovered Boyle’s Law with tools designed and built widely by Hooke.

Hooke's Microscope

Contribution to the Making of the Microscope:

Hooke's involvement in the history of biology widely rests in his book "Micrographia", published in 1665. Hooke devised the compound microscope and illumination system shown above, one of the best microscopes of his time. With it he observed many living organisms as diverse as insects, sponges, bryozoans, foraminifera, and bird feathers.

Juicy Facts...

  • In 1666, when London was devastated by the Great Fire, Robert Hooke was made Surveyor to the City of London and he performed more than half of all the surveys after the fire. He was one of the leading architects of thattime and suggested a rebuilding bluptint for the city. However, it was not approved. Along with Christopher Wren, Hooke also designed the Monument to the Great Fire of London.
  • No depiction of Hooke survived due to the fact that Robert Hooke was never married but did have a romantic relationship with a relative, particularly his niece, Grace Hooke. Grace Hooke actually was his life-long companion and housekeeper. Not even a photograph of him exists, only self-portrait.

Anton Van Leeuwenhoek...

Early Life:

Anton Van Leeuwenhoek was born on October 24, 1632, in a small city called Delft in Netherlands. Leeuwenhoek's early life was rough, his father past away when he was only five years old. His mother remarried, and Leeuwenhoek spent some time living with an uncle. He eventually died in August 26, 1728.


In 1654, age 21, Leeuwenhoek returned to Delft, where he spent the rest of his life. This was an extremely significant year for Leeuwenhoek. Not only did he return to his hometown, but he got married. He also put his business experience into practice. He opened his own textile shop in Delft.

Leeuwenhoek's Microscope

Contribution to the Making of the Microscope:

  • Glass pearls: For hundreds of years, people in the textiles trade had used glass pearls (small spheres of glass) as lenses to examine cloth in fine detail. Leeuwenhoek used glass pearls frequently in his day-to-day business to observe the density of threads and the quality of cloth.
  • Leeuwenhoek’s biological discoveries were completely dependent on his ability to make lenses of extraordinarily high quality.
  • He never told anyone how he created his lenses. In fact, to throw competitors off the scent, he used to talk about how he had to grind glass for a very long time to make his lenses.
Leeuwenhoek examined red blood cells

Juicy Facts:

  • Anton Van Leeuwenhoek had no college education and he received countless awards for his influencial efforts in creating the lense for his microscope.
  • His strong understanding of business practices caused him to be very protective of his studies. There are only nine surviving versions of his more than 250 microscopes, although it is believed that he had many more stored away that he didn't share with the public.

Zacharias Janssen...

Zadcharias Janssen was born in 1580 in the country Windmills, Holland.


He was a dutch spectacle-maker from Middelburg credited with inventing the first microscope. Although Zacharias Jansen's life was previously documented, many of the archives were lost in the fires of Middelburg during the Second World War on May 17th 1940.

The first microscope.

Contribution to the Making of the Microscope:

Zacharias was the creator of the microscope. Zacharais Janssen's microscope was similar to a hand lens that had a slot to insert the sample in. His invention could only magnify the object three times the original size.

Juicy Facts:

  • There is a legend that says that Zacharias Janssen, in his childhood, he discovered the microscope while playing with another child with damaged lens in the studio of Hans Lippershey.
  • They held two lenses in their eyes in the direction of the vane of the local church and watched as it seemed close.


Antoni van Leeuwenhoek. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.buffalolib.org/content/milestones-science/antoni-van-leeuwenhoek

Biography.com Editors. (2015, December 29). Robert hooke biography. Retrieved from http://www.biography.com/people/robert-hooke-9343172#synopsis

Hans and Zacharias Jansen: A complete microscope history (1635 - 1703). (n.d.).Retrieved from http://www.history-of-the-microscope.org/robert-hooke-microscope-history-micrographia.php

Microscopes - Binoculars & Scopes: Electronics: Stereo Microscopes, Compound Microscopes & More. (n.d.). Retrieved January 12, 2017, from https://www.amazon.com/Microscopes/b?ie=UTF8&node=499170


Created with images by Bruce Guenter - "Looking Glass" • Breville USA - "OJ & Chocolate Pudding w Orange Pulp 3of5" • Dun.can - "The Monument" • Stifts- och landsbiblioteket i Skara - "Antonius a Leeuwenhoek" • Andrew Mason - "Blood Cells" • Christian_Birkholz - "flowers flower fiore" • Hietaparta - "white flowers delicate flowers three flowers"

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