Microscope

Microscope

1590

It wasn’t until Zacharias Janssen — a Dutch lensmaker — realised that by inverting the lens structure of early prototype telescopes you could get a high degree of magnification that the microscope was invented in the 16th century. These initial microscopes were simple compound types, combining a magnifying objective lens with an eye lens. Advancements soon followed though and, after Robert Hooke published Micrographia in 1655, the microscope became a staple tool for any scientist.

Printing press

Printing press

1450

Surely this is one of humankind’s most edifying inventions. The printing press — built by Johannes Gutenberg in the mid-15th century -allowed documents and books to be produced quickly and cheaply in bulk, bringing literature to the masses. Indeed, this device wrenched the knowledge of the ages away from a minority of wealthy and learned scholars and placed it in the hands of the everyday person, inspiring many to go on and make world-changing inventions of their own.