An Octascope

The octascope seems to have just about vanished from the world. What a pity! The principle is simple enough for it is like a kaleidoscope where you view pieces of coloured plastic in a tube, with mirrors to produce a lovely repeating rotating pattern. Now take away the plastic pieces and replace them with a lens which enables you to focus on whatever you want and turn it into the same kinds of rotational pattern. You have an octascope and they are lovely.

I think, in my family, we first saw one at the home of our rather Bohemian friends. I know my dad was captivated and set about finding cheap examples for his family – or at any rate, for me and him. I still have mine and here it is, in its box.

image002 This came from The Early Learning Centre and it still has a price label.


That price tag is useful since it is a decimal price but I suspect it may have been priced decimal just prior to 1971. If we take the octascope from the box it has something of a psychedelic look to it.


I’d love to be able to show you a pattern made with this, but I can’t attach a camera and I haven’t (to my surprise) even got a simple way of cheating one with software at the moment. But take it from me, some very beautiful images can be obtained.

I suppose the need for a reasonable lens made them more expensive than the kaleidoscope, but I still can’t really understand why they have vanished from the scene.

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