It is hard to imagine where mankind would be if Mr. Galilei had been thwarted by the power that was and is. The most reliable accounts place the invention of the telescope by Hans Lippershey. Galileo was the extreme refiner of the telescope that brought the fundamental changes to human understanding as we know it.
Here is a link to a series of very good articles from the Wired on the history of the instrument and where it may yet take us. An excerpt:
"This invention was also the most seditious, blasphemous instrument of all time, shaking the very foundations of society."
Can we learn from our mistakes?