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Who Invented the Kaleidoscope

The kaleidoscope is a toy that usually contains 3 mirrors and many small loose colored objects (beads, glass etc) contained within a tube. This tube contains an eyepiece and as the viewer looks into it the light coming into the other end of the device creates a colorful pattern. This occurs due to the reflection from the mirrors. The tube can be rotated and the loose objects move around to change the colors and patterns that can be seen. Let’s take a look at who invented this popular toy.

Who invented the kaleidoscope?
The kaleidoscope was invented by Scottish scientist and inventor Sir David Brewster. It is believed that he invented the kaleidoscope sometime around 1815 when conducting experiments, but he didn’t patent it until 1817. He decided to work with the well known optical instrument maker, Philip Carpenter, to produce the device. Amazingly, in the first 3 months over 200,000 kaleidoscopes were sold in London and Paris. Carpenter was the sole manufacturer of the kaleidoscope, but the high level of demand for the product meant that Brewster asked to allow others to being making them. It was originally designed to be a scientific tool, but it was copied and made into a toy not long after it was released.

Did you know?
Unfortunately, there was a mistake in Brewster’s patent application. This meant that people were free to copy his invention and he was unable to make lots of money from his invention!

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