The first practical use of confocal optics was by Hiroto Naora who built a device based upon a theoretical concept devised by his supervisor Z. Koana, over 50 years ago. His system did not form images, but was used in high resolution micro-spectrophotometry. Some 10 years later, Marvin Minsky added a scanning stage to construct a microscope capable of forming images. Despite these early advances, in was not until the 1970s that reasonably practical confocal microscopes were built, and the mid 1980s before commercial models became generally available.

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DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(02)05329-4