In the 1960's, British physicist, Harold Hopkins, developed the modern endoscope.

For interest, this page shows how gastroscopy was performed in earlier times.

This is how it was done in 1868:

70 years later not much had changed. 

Gastroscopy in 1939 at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital. London (thanks to the Historic England archive.)

1. A surgeon preparing a patient before a gastrocopy

Picture shows the surgeon passing a stomach tube to empty the stomach of its contents before passing the gastroscopy tube.

2. A surgeon passing a gastroscopy tube into a patient's stomach

Picture shows the gastroscopy tube being passed into the stomach of the patient. The patient has had a morphia injection one hour and a half before entering the theatre, when the throat is painted with a local anaesthetic of two per cent Pantocaine. The tube of the gastroscope is lubricated with KY jelly.

3. A surgeon looking through the eyepiece of a gastroscope at a patient's stomach

Picture shows the surgeon looking through the eyepiece of the gastroscope. Even should the tube be slightly curved the instrument still functions and the interior lining of the stomach can still be seen.

Gastroscopy, a type of endoscopy, is an examination of the interior of the stomach, using a long flexible instrument introduced via the mouth and oesophagus. In the 1800s the “rigid endoscope era” began with the introduction of the gastroscope: a combination of light source, optical system, and tubular shape. The original gastroscope design was replaced in 1932 with the semi-flexible endoscope which, being more flexible than previous apparatus, allowed more complete imaging of the interior of the stomach. For the first time, gastroscopy was a safe diagnostic procedure following technical improvements. Fibre optic endoscope apparatus, introduced in the 1960s, are highly manoeuvrable and produce intense light – thus enabling access to parts of the body previously inaccessible and reducing patient discomfort.

Thanks to Harold Hopkins, we now have flexible scopes.

Picture credit: NHS