Science Photo Library (SPL) was founded in 1981 by Michael Marten, one of the authors of "Worlds Within Worlds", a book exploring different ways to observe the universe - from electron micrographs, to images of earthrise taken from the Apollo spacecraft. When Marten started receiving requests for the beautiful images in the book, he had an idea of setting up Science Photo Library.

Marten says: "Worlds was the first popular book in Britain to show the new range of scientific imagery that had been developed since the 1950s, and it showed that science images could be exciting, colourful, even artistic: they didn't need to be boring and technical. At that time you couldn't get them from photo agencies, or indeed from any central source, you had to go to individual scientists and doctors who made the pictures."

Since then, SPL has continued to work alongside world acclaimed photographers and the leading science and medical experts to provide a central source of the best science and specialist imagery available. Although the collection started with scientific images, it has grown to encompass all aspects of science and their impact on everyday life. In 2009 SPL expanded into footage, and now represents a growing Motion collection of the best science footage from around the world.

SPL first office photo

SPL's first office, above the record shop Plastic Passion, at 2 Blenheim Crescent W11.