Galileo Galilei’s use of the newly invented telescope for astronomical observation resulted immediately in epochal discoveries about the physical nature of celestial bodies, but the advantage for astrometry came much later. The quadrant and sextant were pre-telescopic instruments for measurement of large angles between stars, improved by Tycho Brahe in the years 1570-1590. Fitted with telescopic sights after 1660, such instruments were quite successful, especially in the hands of John Flamsteed. The meridian circle was a new type of astrometric instrument, already invented and used by Ole Rømer in about 1705, but it took a hundred years before it could fully take over. The centuries-long evolution of techniques is reviewed, including the use of photoelectric astrometry and space technology in the first astrometry satellite, Hipparcos, launched by ESA in 1989. Hipparcos made accurate measurement of large angles a million times more efficiently than could be done in about 1950 from the ground, and it will soon be followed by Gaia which is expected to be another one million times more efficient for optical astrometry.