Dieter Gerlach’s book Geschichte der Mikroskopie (2009) is far and away the best single reference work on the history of microscopy.* It is also long out of print: the publisher Verlag Harri Deutsch closed its doors in 2013, and Dr. Gerlach passed away in 2015. Geschichte der Mikroskopie was clearly a labor of love and dedication, and Dr. Gerlach collected hundreds of pictures of both biologists and historical microscopes for the book. The book included a CD-ROM with these same images in higher resolution and in color. Since a lot of library copies no longer have the CD-ROM, I’ve uploaded it here for anyone who wants the full experience of this exhaustively researched book.
Once you’ve mounted the .iso disk image, open either “index.html” or “mikroskope.html” in your web browser.
*: The other contender for the title is the three volume Geschichte der Mikroskopie: Leben und Werk grosser Forscher, ed. Hugo Freund and (the controversial, former SS officer) Alexander Berg (Umschau Verlag, 1963–1966). Its subtitle “Life and Work of Great Scientists” only starts to indicate how different it is from Gerlach’s instrument-oriented book. The 132 biographical entries are written by important European microscopists. It’s a much more demanding and technical book: the Freund & Berg entries were written by microscopists for other microscopists, while Gerlach had extensive experience writing textbooks for beginner and intermediate students. Despite sharing titles Gerlach’s Geschichte der Mikroskopie and Freund & Berg’s Geschichte der Mikroskopie are complementary to the point of having almost no overlap, and both are essential starting points for any historian of microscopy.