Hans Lippershey wasn’t just an ordinary optician. He was an inventor who took the astronomers of his time by storm. From this small invention, he would become science most controversial figure, as well as the one who advances astronomical observation.
Many people had thought that he stole the idea from other people. Others had the idea also but were too late to patent it. Nevertheless, his invention was still revolutionary.
The German Optician
Hans Lippershey was born in the city of Wesel, West Germany in the year 1570. He moved to Middleburg in 1594 and got married.
Here he established a business as an optician. He opened his shop in Zeeland and became a citizen. His shop became a famous establishment because of the work quality and his high skill as a lens grinder.
The Idea That Inspired Him
One day, two children were playing with the lenses he had in his shop. One of the children said when he looked into a pair of lenses that he could see so far away.
Another version of how he discovered the idea was because of development in glass making techniques by the Italians. The more controversial version was that he stole it from his assistant. Either way, he eventually made the first telescope after several experiments.
The Controversial Inventor
He tried patenting the telescope for 30 years. He first named it “looker”, which has a function of seeing far away objects. He also offered not to sell his invention to other nations, but he wanted annual pension in exchange.
This patent was rejected because it was too easy to duplicate. But the Dutch government ordered several lookers to be produced in exchange for 900 florins.
The lookers that he made were incredible at his time. The ability to see 3 times further is really helpful to people that observes the skies, recon, and sea voyages.
However, another inventor named Jacob Metius emerged to claim the looker. This inventor nearly got his patent when Hans Lippershey patented his first.
Another optician named Sacharias Janssen also claimed that he invented it first. But this claim was made many decades later. Many more inventors came to claim the looker as theirs, but most of them are after several decades of the looker’s creation.
Many years later, the term “telescope” is preferred than lookers. The term was created by Giovanni Dimisiani, a Greek chemist.
Invention That Advances Science and Astronomy
His invention was a hit among popular scientists such as Paolo Sarpi, Thomas Harriot and the popular Galileo Galilei. Galileo himself improved the telescope to be able to see farther and became popular because of it.
Legacy to the Modern World
His invention was one of the most important in the scientific world. Whether he made it himself or not, the invention was still important in scientific observations until today. He died at 50 years old, in 1619.
Today, we can see a minor planet called 31338 Lipperhey, which was homage to Hans Lippershey, the creator of the telescope used to discover it.