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Hans Lippershey - Famous Inventor

: Hans Lippershey
: 1970-01-01
: 1970-01-01
: Germany
: Self Educated
: spectacle-maker,Inventor

About Inventor

Hans Lippershey (1570 – September 1619), also known as Johann Lippershey or Lipperhey, was a German-Dutch spectacle-maker. He is commonly associated with the invention of the telescope,although it is unclear if he was the first to build one.


Hans Lippershey was born in Wesel, in western Germany, in 1570. He settled in Middelburg, the capital of the province of Zeeland in the Netherlands, in 1594, married the same year and became a citizen of Zeeland in 1602. During that time he became a master lens grinder and spectacle maker and established a shop. He remained in Middelburg until his death, in September 1619.

Invention of the telescope

Hans Lippershey is known for the earliest written record of a refracting telescope, a patent he filed in 1608.His work with optical devices grew out of his work as a spectacle maker,an industry that had started in Venice and Florence in the thirteenth century,and later expanded to the Netherlands and Germany.

Lippershey applied, to the States General of the Netherlands on 2 October 1608, for a patent for his instrument "for seeing things far away as if they were nearby",beating another Dutch instrument-maker's patent, Jacob Metius, by a few weeks. Lippershey failed to receive a patent since the same claim for invention had also been made by other spectacle-makers but he was handsomely rewarded by the Dutch government for copies of his design.

Lippershey's application for a patent was mentioned at the end of a diplomatic report on an embassy to Holland from the Kingdom of Siam sent by the Siamese king Ekathotsarot: Ambassades du Roy de Siam envoyé à l'Excellence du Prince Maurice, arrivé à La Haye le 10 Septemb. 1608 (Embassy of the King of Siam sent to his Excellency Prince Maurice, arrived at The Hague on 10 September 1608). This report was issued in October 1608 and distributed across Europe, leading to experiments by other scientists, such as the Italian Paolo Sarpi, who received the report in November, the Englishman Thomas Harriot, who was using a six-powered telescope by the summer of 1609, and Galileo Galilei, who improved the device.

There are many stories as to how Lippershey came by his invention. One version has Lippershey observing two children playing with lenses in his shop and commenting how they could make a far away weather-vane seem closer when looking at it through two lenses. Other stories have Lippershey's apprentice coming up with the idea or have Lippershey copying someone else's discovery.Lippershey's original instrument consisted of either two convex lenses with an inverted image or a convex objective and a concave eyepiece lens so it would have an upright image.This "Dutch perspective glass" (the name "telescope" would not be coined until three years later by Giovanni Demisiani) had a three-times (or 3X) magnification.

The lunar crater Lippershey and the minor planet 31338 Lipperhey are named after him.


Hans Lippershey's Other Images

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