Short History of Binoculars

Have you watched those classic movies where everyone went to watch theatre or opera and peered through fancy binocular from galleries? Dainty damsels and aristocratic gentlemen with delicate looking glasses always made for an elegant picture. But have you ever wondered how binoculars actually looked and functioned a century ago?

Tracing their roots to telescopes

A binocular, is simply, two small telescopes put together side by side. The year 1608 saw Hans Lippershey of Holland apply for a patent for his binocular. He joined two small prismatic telescopes, included quartz optics and made what looked somewhat like the binoculars we see today.

The 17th century and the better part of the 18th century saw many ideas and patents for binoculars. However, most of them were clumsy in structure and not of very high quality.

In 1740, Scottish inventor, James Short made the first mirror that was ideal for use in telescopes. His mirrors were elliptic, parabolic and ensured no distortion of images. The Short telescope was, in a way, a predecessor to the modern-day binocular.

J.P. Lemiere took this invention a step further by introducing the first binocular telescope in the year 1825.

Historical uses of binoculars

The earliest use of binoculars was mainly for astronomy, military and defence purposes. Some fashion conscious society members did use binoculars to accessorize their already heavy costumes. But a major population found no use for the binocular in their daily lives. In other words, binoculars were not really a must have for many people.

Modern Use

Slowly, use of binoculars in hunting expeditions and jungle safaris increased. Enthusiasts also found binoculars useful for marine activities. Outdoor activities such as whale watching and birdwatching required binoculars.

Activities such as trekking, travelling and outdoor sports such as horse racing and golfing were also enjoyed more with the help of binoculars. The demand for binoculars soared and manufacturers of glasses and telescopes now began making binoculars in greater numbers.


From spotting scopes to monoculars to compact telescopes, you will find a great variety of binoculars to suit your need. Also, binoculars are no longer out of reach for the general traveller or amateur sportsman. You can find a good variety of brands that sell lightweight, portable and easily affordable binoculars. Accessories such as tripods and camera adaptors are also available at reasonable prices.

Binoculars – buyer guides

Buying a binocular for a specific purpose requires a bit of research. There are plenty of binocular reviews of popular brands as well as binocular dealers and sellers that you can find in your vicinity. You can look up websites for buyer guides and binocular reviews to find the right binocular. The buyer guides tell you all that you need to know about the magnification, capacity and right use of the binocular.

You could also ask people you know to recommend when it comes to choosing the right binocular. Spend some time in choosing your binocular, for you are going to use it for a long time to come!

Source by Avisha Jain

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