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18th Century Microscopes: A Synopsis of History and Workbook by James B. McCormick, M.D.(1987)

This book concentrates on a significant period in the evolution of the microscope. As expressed in the Preface, “It is not the author’s intention to offer yet another charge of the brigade to form a comprehensive history of the microscope, but rather to dwell in the middle period of its evolution, when both simple and compound instruments were influenced by many novel mechanical designs; all attempting to stabilize the image and improve resolution.”

This book is important in understanding the assembly and function of many accessories or attachments to evolving microscopes.

McCormick begins with a brief, general history of microscopes of the 17th and 18th centuries. He discusses the significance of the microscope relative to the inventions of other machines and instruments of the period - especially the telescope.

In chapter 2, McCormick reviews the development of the concepts that relate to the optics of the microscope. He writes about magnification, refraction, diffraction and interference, refraction and dispersion, and reflection. "It is a curious fact," he states, "that nearly 300 years elapsed between the invention of the eyeglasses, which use lenses to improve the sight of the human eye, and the earliest production of optical instruments, the telescope and the microscope. The thought of making a small, short focal length, hard lens, which is what constitutes the simple microscope, simply had not occurred to anyone."

In the next five chapters, McCormick talks about the development of the simple and compound microscopes. He focuses on the problems faced by both users and designers of these instruments, and the attempts to solve the problems by invention and, in some cases, by accident. He discusses the development of the compass microscope and the Lieberkuhn reflector.

He continues with the evolution of the compound microscope, highlighting the contributions of Edmund Culpeper and James Wilson with their screw-barrel designs. McCormick then goes into some detail about the modifications that were applied to the basic designs. He discusses the Edinburgh Wilson Screw-Barrel Microscope, the Solar Microscope, the Double Reflection Microscope, and the Culpeper-type Microscope.
Finally, McCormick describes the development in 1744 of the Cuff-type Microscope, which is the forerunner of the modern microscope. "Mechanically, this instrument is far superior to any of its predecessors. Its advent ushered in a new trend in microscope design. All major instrument makers copied or made slight alterations and modifications to Cuff's model. His fundamental structural plan prevailed for some 50 to 60 years." He closes with a detailed description and use of a Cuff Microscope.

This book is important in understanding the assembly and function of many accessories or attachments to evolving microscopes.

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