Throughout the ages, the issues that have defined the management of disease processes have been particularly exemplified in the gastrointestinal tract. The use of gas lamps and candles with reflectors by Bozzini, Segalas, Cruise, and Fisher (19th century) allowed for some ingress into both the upper and lower gastrointestinal tract. Von Mikulicz, Leiter, Nitze, Kelling, and Jacobaeus contributed to the development of rigid instruments that could be used endoscopically or laparoscopically. Endoscopic efforts were amplified and extended by Rosenheim, Sternberg, Wolf, and, finally, Schindler, who not only introduced novel lens systems but also for the most part overcame the problems of flexibility and illumination. Bernheim, Ruddock, Veress, and Palmer made significant technical and clinical contributions to abdominal cavity exploration. The subsequent application of Hopkins and Kapany's work on optics, and the development by Hirschowitz and Curtiss of the flexible fiber optic endoscope, enabled the design of instruments that would allow the appropriate illumination and vision of both the farthest reaches of the bowel as well as the interior of the abdomen. Thus, the same endoscopic instruments coupled with a surgical interest in diagnostic laparotomy allowed for the evolution of minimally invasive surgery along a similar timescale. The cycle whereby diagnostic laparotomy in the early part of the century was supplanted by endoscopy and laparoscopy has now attained full circle whereby laparoscopy has evolved from a diagnostic procedure into one with major therapeutic applications and is perceived as the state-of-the-art technique for a wide variety of operations, including appendectomy, cholecystectomy, hernia repair, fundoplication, splenectomy, colectomy, and gastrointestinal anastomoses.