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This is a simple, rugged and inexpensive white plastic instrument marked “Patent Applied For.” It uses prisms to fold the light path, and so can be small and portable. The cardboard box is marked “The Open University McArthur Microscope.” There are two glass slides.
John McArthur (1901-1996) was a British physician who, while working in the tropics, identified the Anopheles mosquito that was causing malaria, and then promoted ways to control its spread. McArthur noted that the microscope was conceived “for rural tropical medical work, but with schools in view, and the sudden demand for 8,000 microscopes by the Open University has pressed this design forward.” It won the Design Council Award and a Duke of Edinburgh prize (both in 1972). Fortune (1972) deemed it one of the best designs of the year.
Ref: J. McArthur, “The McArthur Microscope—Open University Model,” Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 65 (1972): 438.
“Dr. John McArthur,” The New Scientist (Nov. 22, 1979): 312-314.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
ca 1970
place made
United Kingdom: England
Physical Description
plastic (overall material)
case: 2 1/4 in x 8 11/16 in x 4 13/16 in; 5.715 cm x 22.06625 cm x 12.22375 cm
microscope: 1 in x 5 in x 3 in; 2.54 cm x 12.7 cm x 7.62 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Oscar Richards
Science & Scientific Instruments
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Science & Mathematics
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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