1976 One Minute Story

Microscopes: 100 years of innovations

Nikon contributes to the progress of science through various technological innovations.


October, 1957... The Second Japanese Antarctic Expedition research ship: Soya. At Hinode pier in Tokyo.


What's in that leather case?


A microscope. It's small enough to take with me.

A microscope? In there?

The Model H microscope

The Model H microscope that Nippon Kogaku (now Nikon Corporation) produced achieved performance equivalent to higher-class microscopes, yet was almost as small as a 35mm camera. It weighed 800g and could be stored in a leather case for carrying.


The microscope was used for observation in the southern polar regions, for plankton research in icy seas and other uses onboard the Soya research vessel.

JOICO Microscope introduced in 1925

Microscopes are indispensable tools in the advancement of science.

1857 Louis Pasteur discovered the yeast fermentation process
1882 Robert Koch discovered the tuberculosis bacillus
1894 Shibasaburo Kitazato discovered the plague bacillus

Nippon Kogaku manufactured microscopes from its establishment. The Victor No.2 microscope was featured in the product catalog published around 1923.

In 1925, the JOICO microscope with an objective lens designed by the German engineer Acht was introduced. After that, microscopes continued to grow as a core product of consumer goods and new technologies were introduced.

Biophot:biological microscope for research. Metaphot:metallographical microscope. Fluophot:fluorescence microscope.

In 1976, the world's first CF system microscope, the Microphoto V, was marketed. It was called [the first technological innovation in 100 years].

Following this, the performance of Nippon Kogaku microscopes improved tremendously, and other companies adopted the system.

New technologies such as automation and image processing were also evaluated. In 1985, an inverted biological microscope for use in the Space Shuttle was delivered to NASDA (now JAXA).

In 1992, it was used in the Space Shuttle Endeavour for cell culture experiments in a weightless environment.

Nikon's microscopes are continuing to advance in technological innovation in the present day. Supporting improvements in industry and scientific progress, they continue to contribute to a healthier everyday life during this time when the human lifespan is extending toward 100 years.

Pioneering microscope systematization

The CF microscope was called "the first technological innovation in 100 years". Behind this achievement was the experience of a Nippon Kogaku optical designer who was on an inspection tour of the IC industry in the U.S.A. He saw many stereo and metallurgical microscopes in the manufacturing and inspection departments, but was shocked that none of them were Nippon Kogaku products.
In December 1972, a new project team began to reform the microscope system radically. The microscope lens design established by German scientist Ernst Abbe at the end of the 19th century was known as the compensation method of correcting magnification aberration by combining the objective lens and eyepiece, and it was long considered the standard. However, the team adopted the CF (Chromatic Aberration Free) system that independently corrected the chromatic aberration for the objective lens and eyepiece to greatly reduce chromatic aberration. Also, ED glass was used for the objective lens to improve performance and create a design that would provide a complete optical system from light source to focal plane that meets any field's requirements. A new unit method was adopted for the entire microscope system, and in July 1976 the Microphoto V microscope that allowed various combinations of main and arm units for diverse observation purposes was released. This systematization has proliferated since then, as the DNA of Nikon microscopes.

Objective lenses adopting the CF system
Biophot biological microscope for research