A Microplate Reader, circa 1981

Credit: Courtesy of Biotek Instruments Inc." /> Credit: Courtesy of Biotek Instruments Inc. In the late 1970s, researchers who wanted to quantify the results of new immunoprecipitation assays, such as ELISA, had three choices: risk human error and a headache by using a manual reader, break out the cuvets and the spectrophotometer, or pay as much as $15,000 for a bulky automated reader. In 1981, Winooski, Vt.-base

Bob Grant
Bob Grant

Bob started with The Scientist as a staff writer in 2007. Before joining the team, he worked as a reporter at Audubon and earned a master’s degree in science journalism...

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Apr 1, 2008
<figcaption> Credit: Courtesy of Biotek Instruments Inc.</figcaption>
Credit: Courtesy of Biotek Instruments Inc.

In the late 1970s, researchers who wanted to quantify the results of new immunoprecipitation assays, such as ELISA, had three choices: risk human error and a headache by using a manual reader, break out the cuvets and the spectrophotometer, or pay as much as $15,000 for a bulky automated reader.

In 1981, Winooski, Vt.-based, BioTek Instruments, introduced the EL307. Roughly the size of a toaster oven, the EL307 combined the ease of automated microplate reading with the low cost of the manual readers. Users still had to reposition their 96-well microplates by hand, but a spring-loaded device and magnets made this process easier than with purely manual readers. The EL307, shown here in a BioTek pamphlet from 1984—1985, was also directly connected to a printer that simultaneously recorded results from each well, eliminating the need to manually record each well's location. It took a...