Antoni van Leeuwenhoek

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Antoni van Leeuwenhoek was one of those people that we would never of thought to grow up to become a scientist. He came from a family of tradesmen. He had no fortune, received little to almost no education at all, and knew no other languages other than the language he was born with, which was Dutch. This would have been enough to exclude him from the occupation of a scientist completely. Yet with skill, carefulness, an endless curiosity, and an open mind to a whole new world, van Leeuwenhoek succeeded in making some of the most important discoveries in the history of biology.

Leeuwenhoek was born in Delft, Holland on October 24, 1632. His father was a basket maker and his mother's family were brewers, people who made beer and alcohol. Antoni as a child was educated at a school in the town of Warmond where he lived with his uncle at Benthuizen.

In 1648 he was apprenticed in a linen draper's shop. After seven years, Leeuwenhoek moved back to Delft in 1654 where he spent the rest of his life. He took up the occupation of a draper, or fabric merchant, which was the family business. He had many jobs throughout his lifetime. He was known to have worked as a land surveyor, a wine seller, and as a minor city official.

At some time before 1668, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek learned to grind lenses, made simple microscopes, and began observing with them. He seemed to have been inspired to take up microscopy by having seen and read a copy of Robert Hooke's illustrated book, Micrographia, which showed and described Hooke's own observations with the microscope.

Leeuwenhoek is known to have made over 500 microscopes, but less than ten of them have made it to this present day. His...