Skip to Content


Scientific instruments


The barometer was invented in 1644 by the Italian Evangista Torricelli who discovered that the height of a mercury column that could be supported by atmospheric pressure varied between 28 and 31 inches (71 and 79 centimetres). As it came to be recognised that atmospheric pressure could be used to predict the weather, barometers became […]  Continue Reading »


The telescope was invented in Holland in about 1608. It is usually ascribed to Hans Lippershey, a spectacle maker, who applied for a patent based on the observation that placing a concave and a convex lens in a tube magnified distant objects With at least two other Dutch inventors of similar devices at about the […]  Continue Reading »


In about 1610, the Dutch lensmaker, Hans Jannisen, and his son Zacharias made an instrument consisting of a pair of lenses mounted in a sliding tube, which is regarded as the first microscope. The addition of a condenser lens to concentrate light on the specimen, a specimen stage and controls for moving the tube came […]  Continue Reading »


An astrolabe is an elaborate instrument for measuring angles of slope. They were used by astronomers, navigators and astrologers for predicting the position of stars and planets and for determining local time or latitude. Astrolabes show how the sky looks at a specific place at a given time. An astrolabe consists of a disk which […]  Continue Reading »

Mechanical Calculators

The first mechanical adding machine was made by the French mathematician Blaise Pascal in 1645. This had a number of interconnected wheels, each with ten teeth representing the digits. Numbers were added by advancing the appropriate wheels. The German philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz extended to Pascal’s machine to doing multiplication by repeated addition. The […]  Continue Reading »