Antonie van Leeuwenhoek was born in Delft on 24 October 1632. In 1648, van Leeuwenhoek was apprenticed to a textile merchant, which is where he probably first encountered magnifying glasses, which were used in the textile trade to count thread densities for quality control purposes.
In 1668, van Leeuwenhoek paid his first and only visit to London, where he probably saw a copy of Robert Hooke's 'Micrographia' (1665) which included pictures of textiles that would have been of interest to him.
In 1676, van Leeuwenhoek observed water closely and was surprised to see tiny organisms - the first bacteria observed by man. His letter announcing this discovery caused widespread doubt at the Royal Society but Robert Hooke later repeated the experiment and was able to confirm his discoveries. As well as being the father of microbiology, van Leeuwenhoek laid the foundations of plant anatomy and became an expert on animal reproduction. He discovered blood cells and microscopic nematodes, and studied the structure of wood and crystals. He also made over 500 microscopes to view specific objects.