http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Lippershey I read an article in Astronomy magazine that described how Lippershey tried to get a patent for the first telescope (Greek tele = 'far' and skopein = 'to look or see') in September-October 1608. Lippershey’s telescope could magnify a whopping three-fold. His request was turned down after it was found that lots of crude telescopes were being sold at carnivals. His was however the first actual recorded design and his patent ignited scientific curiosity in the device worldwide. Of course, Gallileo claimed to have discovered the telescope to get funds to improve them and was the first to point it at the sky. The design indirectly led to the microscope. Many scientific fields would involve a lot of guesswork without these. So happy 400th anniversary!