Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company

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Stereoscan MK1, the first commercial scanning electron microscope, was produced by the Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company in 1965
Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company
FounderHorace Darwin
Albert George Dew-Smith
Productsscientific instruments

Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company was a company founded in 1881 by Horace Darwin (1851–1928) and Albert George Dew-Smith (1848–1903) to manufacture scientific instruments.

Darwin was first apprenticed to an engineering firm in Kent, and returned to Cambridge in 1875. Dew-Smith was an engineer, photographer and instrument maker who was at Trinity College, Cambridge with Darwin. Darwin's grandson Erasmus Darwin Barlow was later chairman.

Designed between 1884/85, the rocking microtome was one of Darwin's most successful designs which continued to be manufactured until the 1970s.[1]

Their partnership became a Limited Liability Company in 1895. In 1920 it took over the R.W. Paul Instrument Company of London, and became The Cambridge and Paul Instrument Company Ltd. The name was shortened to the Cambridge Instrument Company Ltd. in 1924 when it was converted to a Public limited company. The company was finally taken over by the George Kent Group in 1968, forming the largest independent British manufacturer of industrial instruments.[2]

Several early employees went on to further renown, including Robert Stewart Whipple, who was appointed personal assistant to Horace Darwin in 1898, and later became Managing Director and Chairman of the company.[3] His collection of scientific instruments later formed the basis of the Whipple Museum of the History of Science in 1944. William G. Pye, who had joined as foreman in 1880, left in 1898 to form the W.G. Pye Instrument Company with his son, which ultimately become the Pye group of companies.


  1. ^ "Cambridge Scientific Instrument Co". Retrieved 23 September 2014.
  2. ^ "Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company: Records and Papers". Archives Hub. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  3. ^ Williams, Tom A. "An instrumental collection". University of Cambridge. Retrieved 8 April 2020.

External links[edit]


  • Cattermole, M.J.G. & Wolfe, A.F., Horace Darwin's Shop: A History of the Cambridge Scientific Company 1878–1968, (Adam Hilger, 1987) ISBN 0-85274-569-9