(Antonie van Leeuwenhoek) Anthony van Leeuwenhoek was born in Delft, Holland on October 24, 1632 to Philips Thoniszoon, a Dutch tradesman that made baskets, and Grietge Jacobs, the daughter of a brewer. He is also commonly known as “the Father of Microbiology”, and considered to be the first microbiologist. They lived in a comfortable home until his father and two of his sisters died when Anthony was just eight years old. Also, his mother was left with five young children.
Therefore, Anthony was sent to live with his uncle who is reported to have taught him some math and physics. Anthony van Leeuwenhoek was unlike most of those students who attended a university. He never learned Latin, nor attended a university. At age 16, his stepfather passed away and his mother decided it was time for Antonie to learn a trade. He secured an apprenticeship with a Scottish cloth merchant in Amsterdam as a bookkeeper and casher. Because of his involvement with textile merchants he worked with primitive microscopes.
These simple scopes only had a magnifying power of three times and sparked Anthony to create a much more powerful lens’ which would make objects 200 times larger. Leeuwenhoek was also inspired to study microscopy by Robert Hooke’s illustrated book, Micrographia. During his lifetime, he made over 500 optical lenses. He also created more than 250 types of different microscopes. One of his most well-known glasses, called magnifying glasses which magnified over 200x and this was unprecedented at the time.
Leeuwenhoek was able to do this because he was skilled at grinding the lenses. Although he has been widely regarded as a dilettante or amateur, his scientific research was of remarkably high quality. As a result, he was able to discover blood cells, sperm cells of animals, the infusorians, and the banded pattern of muscular fibers. Although he discovered many things that were not found before, Leeuwenhoek never published any books. He wrote many letters and those have been separately published in compilations.
The letters were mainly written to The Royal Society and have also been published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. Through his innovation, he was known as a renowned Dutch scientist, and became the first one in history to visualize living bacteria when he used a microscope to examine his Petridish filed with water. The way he lived was as one of the first and most important explorers of the microscopic world.