This an interesting article about early microscopes with some beautiful slides here – Deskarati
The first microscopes were a lot better than they are usually given credit for. That’s the claim of microscopist Brian Ford, a specialist in the history and development of these instruments based at the University of Cambridge, UK.
Ford says it is often suggested that the microscopes used by seventeenth-century pioneers such as Robert Hooke and Antony van Leeuwenhoek gave a blurry view of biological structures such as cells and microorganisms. Hooke was the first to record cells, seen in thin slices of cork, while Leeuwenhoek described tiny ‘animalcules’, invisible to the naked eye, in rain water in 1676.
The implication is that these breakthroughs involved more than a little guesswork and invention. But Ford has looked again at the capabilities of some of Leeuwenhoek’s microscopes, and says the results were “breathtaking”, and comparable to those obtained with a modern light microscope. He describes his studies in Microscopy and Analysis
Read more here Early microscopes offered sharp vision : Nature News.