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Multiple Slit Diffraction Chromoscope


A narrow rectangular wooden box with two round holes at one of the small ends and a diagonal hinged door at the other. In front of the round holes, here is a attachment that holds a metal plate cut with with horizontal slits that sit in front and 5cm away from the circular holes; this has a indentation cut in the centre which is likely it is intended to accommodate the nose of the user. This section may not be original. The top of the box is therefore the side with the manufacturer’s label on it.

On the bottom of the box is a wooden plate approximately 12.5cm by 8.5cm that can be lifted up and fixed in place either vertically or almost vertically using a bracket with two possible settings to connect it to a pin set in the side of the box.
On the other small end of the box is a slanted hinged lid which can be opened to reveal the interior of the box. Inside, the immediate interior is painted black, further in left the natural colour of the wood. Four round holes are cut in the black section, arranged in square shape on the top of the box. On the exterior of the box, where these holes are, there is a glass plate which appears to be blackened. In each open hole section there is a clear slit in the black plate.

Looking into the open end, a large circular lens is visible set about half way along the box, with a mirror directly behind the lens. There is a rectangular mirror attached to the lid itself. At about this point along the box, the box is open on one of its sides with a rectangular slit. On the other side and on the top of the box the box is covered by rectangular metal plates.

A small manufacturer’s label is affixed to the box close to the eye holes.

Accession Number:

Alternative Name:

Primary Materials: Wood, Glass, Metal: Copper Alloy


Dimensions (cm): Height = 11.5, length = 46, width = 9.


The Multiple Slit Diffraction Chromoscope, developed by American Frederick Eugene Ives at the beginning of the 20th century, enabled the user to recombine multiple specially taken monochrome photographs in order view a photographic image in colour. It was a development of the inventor’s previous version, called the “Kromskop”. This version used multiple light sources–the slits–for each photograph and a diffraction grating in order to recombine the images in order to give a sharper image.


Very Good: the wooden surface of the instrument is marked and scratched in places but otherwise in good condition, with intact joins and no significant scrapes or splits. The mirror inside the hinged end is intact, but very dirty, as are the interior lens and mirror.

Associated Instruments:


Possibly: The Scientific Shop; F.E. Ives

Date of Manufacture: Early 20th Century (Poss. 1906-1910)


University of Toronto Department of Physics

Additional Information and References:

F.E. Ives 1908 patent for the Multiple Slit Diffraction Chromoscope.

Former UTSIC researcher, Adam Richter, described the function of the Multiple Slit Diffraction Chromoscope here on his blog, Wallifaction.

Historical Notes: