Microscope companies and their mergers, etc

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wporter
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Microscope companies and their mergers, etc

#1 Post by wporter » Wed Apr 19, 2017 2:08 am

I've been fascinated, but confused, by the history of the microscope industry over the last few decades. Scattered tidbits keep cropping up in this forum, primarily in the comments from a few very knowledgeable individuals (Apochronaut, this is all your fault). To help me put it all together, I've roughed out the beginnings of a flowchart. Then I thought, Why not share?

It occurs to me now that it can be extended quite a bit beyond my simplistic start, so if anyone would care to correct/critique/make suggestions/add history/expand the chart, please jump in, and as time permits, I will add your stuff to the chart. It might not have room for all contributions, and could get unwieldy fast, but might eventually evolve into a nice guide for new forum members, if they care about the history stuff.

I have added one feature that will help control the mass of info: numbers (like footnotes) can be placed on a connector line and explained in a legend to avoid crowding; see the fictitious B&L 'Model 10' on the chart as an example. So your input can be added most easily, if provided in the form of a one-liner and a date.

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Re: Microscope companies and their mergers, etc

#2 Post by 75RR » Wed Apr 19, 2017 9:00 am

You might want to add a footnote to the effect that one of the founders of the Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company was Horace Darwin, son of Charles.

Horace Darwin also designed the beautiful and very successful Cambridge Rocking Microtome in 1884, which was manufactured up until the 1970s.

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Re: Microscope companies and their mergers, etc

#3 Post by apochronaut » Wed Apr 19, 2017 1:04 pm

I like your flow chart. It could, with a little effort and research be extended to various other companies. None would be so heavy with mergers as Leica but they all have a convoluted story.
One thing that occurs to me is that the idea for a legend, would be quite useful for giving a timeline of specific inventions, or the efforts of specific inventors;
Robert Tolles( who began as a journeyman and worked for Spencer from 1843-1858) and Charles Spencer inventing the correction collar around 1850, for instance.

I'm curious why you chose 1853 as the date for the origin of Spencer's business? He is known to have advertised his business in 1838, as a manufacturer of reflecting telescopes and reflecting microscopes and to have used moth scale bars as a method for testing his microscopes.

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Re: Microscope companies and their mergers, etc

#4 Post by wporter » Wed Apr 19, 2017 4:54 pm

Thanks for your inputs.

75RR: Will do. I will put the legends on a separate page, and perhaps the charts also, e.g., one for Olympus, one for Zeiss, etc., ad infinitum.
WOW! That is a beautiful microtome! Nice! That may be some kind of manufacturing record, 80+ years.

apochronaut: thanks for the like. I will indeed do other companies, and your suggestion for the significant milestones is exactly what I had in mind, so keep 'em coming, everyone! I missed out on the 1838 date because I couldn't read my own notes, so thanks for the correction. I'll add in your dates, too.

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#5 Post by hkv » Wed Apr 19, 2017 5:37 pm

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Re: Microscope companies and their mergers, etc

#6 Post by hkv » Wed Apr 19, 2017 5:40 pm

Nice compilation! I am a little puzzled about some of the dates. I have a Reichert Microtome that I know was made in the late 80's. Did the brand names remain longer than the dates suggest? According to your time line, Reichert disappeared in 1968.
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Re: Microscope companies and their mergers, etc

#7 Post by wporter » Wed Apr 19, 2017 7:22 pm

Yep, I'll obviously have to do a better distinction between the brand name, the company division, the holding company, etc.

Somewhere I read that AO was used as the brand after 1961 (post-AO-Spencer?), then changed to Reichert in 1972, then to Reichert-Jung in 1986, then to Leica in 1990, but it can't be that simple, since Reichert microscopes were still being sold until 1999 (all this from apochronaut and einman and others); so it looks like there were simultaneous lines of production by the same company (Leica) using different divisions or brand lines.

OK, this is getting nice and complex; a simple page or two isn't going to cut it.... perhaps I should put the next iterations under the files section of the board when it gets bloated. BTW, any and all contributions will be acknowledged in the Credits of this document; I'm just trying to put together (for myself mostly) something slightly more cohesive than various (highly interesting) posts from the past.

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Re: Microscope companies and their mergers, etc

#8 Post by apochronaut » Wed Apr 19, 2017 8:59 pm

As far as the timeline for Reichert and AO. It seems that AO bought Reichert in 1962 but the relationship was somewhat of a partnership. Reichert continued, fairly unimpeded, yet there was a cooperation in development of product and a sharing of manufacturing facilities. You can find identical items with both the Reichert and AO name on them and also made in both Austria and U.S.

For most of the time until about when Cambridge became the owner, it was much cheaper to produce the less voluminous products in Austria generally, and each company had target markets. Not a lot of Buffalo product went to Europe and visa versa.

After Cambridge became the owner, there seemed to have been a collective agreement to ease the name Reichert forward as the identity of the company. Probably, there was a feeling that the brand recognition of the name Reichert would carry the company farther. At AO, some existing stock had the AO name removed and the area where the logo had been was painted black. New production was branded Reichert. There was a brief period too, when the name Cambridge was used, and as well on Bausch & Lomb product, for the name Bausch & Lomb was also discontinued. Sometime after 1991, all remaining production became Leica.
I have seen a simple monocular AO microscope made in China, and not of a design that I am familiar with. It leaves me with the suspicion that the name was sold, hence the need to remove the AO name from slower selling, existing stock items.

As a result of all of this, you can find some AO, identical components with AO, no brand,Reichert and Leica on them, whole identical microscopes with AO, Cambridge,Reichert and Leica branded on them and I know of one Bausch & Lomb optical component that exists with 5 different brands on it, even though it was made in the Bausch & Lomb factory in Rochester: Bausch & Lomb, FJW Industries, Cambridge, Reichert and Leica. Even the Reichert name was used on some B & L product therefore.

It seems that the Reichert brand carried on into the early 90's in North America and probably for a similar period in Europe, for there are a considerable number of Polyvars around with Leica on them. Oddly, I have seen a Polycon branded AO yet in the standard blue and cream colour combination, usually associated with the Reichert brand era instruments.

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Re: Microscope companies and their mergers, etc

#9 Post by wporter » Thu Apr 20, 2017 4:24 pm

Good stuff, apochronaut; I'll see how I can fit it in.

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