David Brewster named his invention after the Greek words, kalos or beautiful, eidos or form, and scopos or watcher. So kaleidoscope means the beautiful form watcher.
Brewster's kaleidoscope was a tube containing loose pieces of colored glass and other pretty objects, reflected by mirrors or glass lenses set at angles, that created patterns when viewed through the end of the tube.
How They WorkThe kaleidoscope creates reflections of reflections of a direct view of the objects at the end. The image will be symmetrical if the mirror angle is an even divider of 360 degrees. A mirror set at 60 degrees will generate a pattern of six regular sectors. A mirror angle at 45 degrees will make eight equal sectors, and an angle of 30 degrees will make twelve. The lines and colors of simple shapes are multiplied by the mirrors into a visually stimulating vortex.