The distinction of being the first human to observe and record the existence of bacteria belongs to the Dutch scientist, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek.
Anton van Leeuwenhoek is known as the "Father of Microbiology" because of his involvement and invention of lenses for microscopes. His knowledge of glasswork leads to the finding of how to forge tiny microscopic lenses from tiny whiskers of glass.
Born to a working class family in Delft, Holland in 1632, Leeuwenhoek was truly a self-made scientist. He didn't receive a degree, attend an institution of higher learning, or learn a foreign language. In fact, he began his working career as a draper (a seller of fabrics).
However, around 1668, he read the book Micrographic by Robert Hook, which described the use of a compound microscope. Inspired by this book, Leeuwenhoek began to hand craft lenses and construct microscopes…
Four Pillars of his works
Anton van Leeuwenhoek was able to take the first look at microscopic organisms. He went on to discover protozoa and provide the world with a description of red blood cells.
Because of the astute work of Anton, the world has many of today's technological marvels and medical cures. The four pillars of his works, which stand out as monumental for the time are:
1. Infusoria: discovered in 1674 - a unicellular algae
2. Bacteria: discovered in 1676 - a single celled microorganism
3. Spermatozoa: discovered in 1677 - a sperm cell
4. Muscular Fibers: discovered in 1682 - "banded pattern" of muscular fibrous tissues.
Royal Society of London
Over his lifetime, Leeuwenhoek developed more than 500 optical lenses and roughly around 250 microscopes - today, only 9 of his microscopes exist. The most powerful microscope from his arsenal could magnify items up to 500 times.
Leeuwenhoek's methods for fabricating intense microscope lenses were hailed as a break through, paving the way for the modern world. Eventually, his works were published and fully recognized by the Royal Society of London.
The Father of Microbiology
At the age of 90, he died in Delft in 1723. Considering the magnitude of his discoveries made during his lifetime, he has well deserved the title of the “Father of Microbiology”.
Today, we possess the technology to look deeper than Anton van Leeuwenhoek could ever imagine. But even today microbiologists of the world rely upon the initial findings and inventions of Anton van Leeuwenhoek which happened three hundred years ago.