Who Invented Night Vision? An Ultimate Guide 2023

Night vision has made a lot of jobs easier today as compared to back then. But have you ever wondered who got the idea of inventing something so useful, like night vision? 

Searching through online shops and seeing a sea of options of night vision accessories of different generations available, one might wonder how old this technology is in this world. 

With time, this invention has improved and become more and more useful with newer technology. Up till now, there are 3 generations of night vision. Its first generation was invented in the 1930s, even before the second world war. 

Who invented night vision

Before getting into history and all of the night visions, we will discuss the purpose of the invention of this technology. It will eventually lead us to the question of who invented night vision and when. We have all the answers for you in this article.

Why were night vision devices invented?

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Although today night visions are being used for military, surveillance, or hunting, the initial purpose of inventing night vision was for only military purposes. 

With the help of a device that can allow them to see in the dark, the army was able to spot enemies and danger at night. This technology and night vision devices indeed brought a great change for the army and made it easier for them to protect their countries from danger. 

Not only that but also, with this device, they could easily invade other countries. Night vision devices have been used in a number of wars. And gradually gained popularity for other purposes, including police jobs and hunting. These are also available for citizens today, with a few different laws to consider for buying and using them. We will dive into the complete history of NVs for further details.

Who invented night vision?

The credit goes to AEG, a German electrical engineer who invented the first-ever night vision device in the 1930s. As it was the most initial and basic form of this invention, it was developing into improved models quite rapidly. 

Also, the first corporation that manufactured night vision devices was ITT Corporation in Virginia. It was the only corporation that was providing these devices to the US army. 

For the use of civilians, night vision devices were improved and commercially manufactured by Vladimir K.Zworykin.

When were night vision devices invented?

In Germany, the armed forces used this equipment for World War II in 1935 while the same kind of invention was being made in the US, and they used a similar functioning device which they called the “sniper scope” or “snooperscope” in the same war. 

The night vision devices designed by AEG at that time were categorized as “generation 0” night vision devices. These relied on IR illumination technology for operating in the dark. As this generation device did not have a built-in IR illuminator, the soldiers had to carry an IR illuminator with them.

History of Night Vision technology:

Who could work in the military and work without night vision? No one since the 1930s when these devices were invented by a genius. Indeed, he considered what was best for the army.

Development of night vision technology

Not only new generations and types of night vision devices such as binoculars, scopes, and goggles were invented, but also the technology used for these kept on improving with time, and today there are almost 4 generations of night vision devices.

The gen 0 NV devices were very heavy and manufactured with the purpose of equipping the tanks, but gradually, the size was reduced to hold them in their hands or attach to the rifles. 

The different technologies used for night vision are listed below:

Image intensifier tube

Image intensifier systems work by using the low light existing around them. They give a view green color, and the user can see objects within a certain range quite clearly. This system cannot perform in complete darkness; therefore, only reliable for use outdoors if there is a bit of light.

Thermal technology

After the image intensifier system, thermal technology was introduced to improve the functioning of night visions. To overcome the problem of no use of image intensifiers in complete darkness, thermal technology uses the thermal energy emitted from nature and other objects like rocks, plants, or cars to allow the user to view through the night vision devices.

Laser technology

Lastly, a laser system was introduced that emits infrared light. This light then brightens the objects being viewed through the night visions, and the user can see them. As it emitted light, this technology for night vision allowed the other soldiers who had night vision devices with the same technology to see the user of the night vision device. 

All of these systems have their own pros and cons and are being used widely to manufacture night vision devices. But did you know about the devices that use night vision technology? If not, read below.

Night Vision Devices

Night vision technology is used for various equipment for different purposes. These include goggles, scopes, and cameras. 

All this equipment is being used for hunting, wildlife watching, surveillance, navigation, entertainment, and security purposes.


Goggles are necessary for navigation and hunting and are more reliable if they have night vision technology. Goggles are mostly preferred to be worn on the head or attached to rifles or bows for hunting and wildlife observation. Therefore, keep these things in mind while choosing a night vision goggle for a specific purpose so that you can use them comfortably.


If you are a photographer and want to click or record different objects at night, night vision cameras and camcorders are for you. They have built-in technology for this purpose. You can find a number of new models with this technology.


Scopes can be used for almost all of the purposes mentioned above. There are various types of scopes, either handheld or those that can be attached to rifles or bows for hunting. They are quite helpful for targeting animals from far away.


Invented since the second world war, night vision devices have improved a lot with newer technologies being used, and they are getting better day by day. 

As it keeps improving, new generations of night vision devices with clearer images, more durability, and better light transmission are being developed.

Additional Questions

Who is credited with inventing the night vision device?

Kálmán Tihanyi, a Hungarian physicist, is credited as the first to design an infrared-sensitive (night vision) electronic television camera in 1929. Tihanyi’s invention was used primarily in the UK for anti-aircraft defense mechanisms. Over the subsequent years, its use was broadened, and the first military night vision devices were eventually developed. The German Army first introduced these devices in 1939 and made strategic use of them during World War II.

Was it the Germans who came up with night vision?

Yes, in fact, the first technical device for night vision was developed by AEG, a German manufacturer of electrical appliances, in the 1930s. The invention was a significant advancement at the time, providing a practical solution for improving visibility in low light conditions.

How is night vision defined in the context of the Bible?

The term “night vision” in the Biblical context refers to the state of awareness just before one falls asleep or just after one begins to wake up. At these times, despite being asleep or in a dream-like state, one maintains a heightened state of consciousness. The visions experienced in this in-between state are what the Bible refers to as “night vision”.

What was the initial purpose behind creating night vision goggles?

Night vision devices were primarily invented to serve military needs, particularly to provide an advantage during nighttime operations. Capability to visualize in the dark can provide a strategic edge over the adversary, and this was the main reason behind the invention. In fact, we have recorded uses of night vision devices in significant historical events, including wars such as the Vietnam War and the Persian Gulf War where they were used extensively.