The rocking microtome (a device for creating thin sections of material for examination under a microscope) was invented by Horace Darwin in the early 1880s.  Horace, son of Charles, was a co-founder of the Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company and they were manufacturing their microtome in 1885


And in 1957 they were still making the same instrument – very little different.


The company was sold in 1968 and disappeared in a series of mergers over the next 20 years.  But others make the instrument today …




How many other technology products are so little changed over 130 years?  Surely it says something about the initial design concept.


(There’s a fascinating display of scientific instruments and of the history of the CSIC in the Whipple Museum in Cambridge: All sorts of ideas on display.)