Athanasius Kircher, Italian magic lantern pioneer, mid 17th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Athanasius Kircher (1602-1680) demonstrated that by placing a lens between a screen and a mirror which had been written upon, a sharp but inverted image of the text would appear on the screen. By using a spherical water-filled flask as a condenser to concentrate the light, Kircher found that texts painted on the mirror's surface could be projected by light from a candle after dark. These demonstrations eventually resulted in the development of the magic lantern as a new form of entertainment.