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The telescope was the first optical instrument and its origin is surrounded by controversy. The most likely story puts it in the shop of an obscure Dutch spectacle maker named Hans Lippershey, about 1600. Two children were playing with his lens, put two together, peered through them at a distant church tower and saw it wonderfully magnified. Lippershey looked for himself and soon mounted lenses together, creating his "looker."

In 1608, Lippershey tried to sell it to the Dutch army, but his offer was eventually turned down because of claims from others that they had invented it. New of the invention spread rapidly. That same year the French ambassador at the Hague obtained one for King Henry IV, and in the next year, they were being sold in Paris and Germany under the name of "Dutch Trunks," "perspectives" and "cylinders."

They soon appeared in Milan, and Venice and by end of the year, they were being made in London.

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