The first microscope was invented in the 1590's when Zacharias Jansen a Dutch spectacle maker was experimenting with spectacle lenses. After aligning several lenses and placing them in a tube they discovered that this magnified a specimen while looking through it. This very first microscope had a magnification of only about 9x. Today's microscope have a magnification of up to 1000x! In the late 17th century Anton van Leeuwenhoek invented a microscope with the capability to magnify at 270x, this became known as the first "real" microscope. This microscope allowed him to see bacteria, blood, yest plants, and life in water.
The microscope has evolved since it was first invented. We now have two major types or microscopes. Compound microscopes which offer a high magnification up to 1000x for viewing slides, and stereo microscopes for lower magnification for viewing specimens like rocks, stamps, coins, or inspection purposes. Numerous lighting and contrast techniques have been developed such as phase contrast, fluorescence, DIC, and more. Technology has been incorporated into today's microscopes. We have biological digital microscopes to assist in the laboratory for documenting, or classroom for teaching. Stereo digital microscopes to help teach or document during inspection of parts. Almost any microscope today can be outfitted to output the image to an HD screen with an HD digital microscope camera.