BACKGROUND Laparoscopic surgery has developed out of multiple technology innovations and the desire to see beyond the confines of the human body. As the instrumentation became more advanced, the application of this technique followed. By revisiting the historical developments that now define laparoscopic surgery, we can possibly foresee its future. DATA SOURCES A Medline search was performed of all the English-language literature. Further references were obtained through cross-referencing the bibliography cited in each work and using books from the authors' collection. CONCLUSION Minimally invasive surgery is becoming important in almost every facet of abdominal surgery. Optical improvements, miniaturization, and robotic technology continue to define the frontier of minimally invasive surgery. Endoluminal resection surgery, image-guided surgical navigation, and remotely controlled robotics are not far from becoming reality. These and advances yet to be described will change laparoscopic surgery just as the electric light bulb did over 100 years ago.