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Alexander James Adie


1775 - 1859

Optician, instrument manufacturer and meteorologist. Born in Edinburgh, in 1787, he was apprenticed to his uncle, John Miller, an optician in the city. By 1800 he was a partner in Miller & Adie, mathematical instrument makers with premises in Nicholson Street. In 1818, he invented and patented the sympiesometer - a compact form of barometer, which was used onboard ships. He manufactured the first polarising microscope in the mid-1820s, which was eventually made obsolete by William Nicol's polarising prism a few years later.

Adie built an observatory attached to his house at Merchant Court and advised the Dumfries and Maxwelltown Astronomical Society on the optics for the Camera Obscura in Dumfries. He supplied lenses to Sir David Brewster (1781 - 1868), who proposed him for election as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1819.

He died at his home, Canaan Lodge in the Morningside district of Edinburgh, and lies buried in Greyfriar's kirkyard. His son, also Alexander James Adie (1808-79), became a notable railway engineer.


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