1850-1899: Golden Age of data graphics

By the mid-1800s, all the conditions for the rapid growth of visualization had been established. Official state statistical offices were established thoughout Europe, in recognition of the growing importance of numerical information for social planning, industrialization, commerce, and transportation. Statistical theory, initiated by Gauss and Laplace, and extended to the social realm by Guerry (Guerry:1833) and Quetelet (Quetelet:1831), provided the means to make sense of large bodies of data.

What started as the "Age of Enthusiasm" (Palsky:1996) in graphics and thematic cartography, may also be called the "Golden Age", with unparalleled beauty and many innovations.

1850 to 1852
Muscle action
Added: 2010-01-05

Hemholtz1850Hemholtz1850
Helmholtz's graphical representation of the time course of muscle action.

Helmholtz1852-1Helmholtz1852-1
Comparative displacement of time course of muscle action (identical contractions).

Helmholtz1852-2Helmholtz1852-2
Comparative displacement of time course of muscle action (slightly greater excitability in second contraction).

Helmholtz1852-3Helmholtz1852-3
Comparative displacement of time course of muscle action (decreased excitability in second contraction).

Herman HelmholtzHerman Helmholtz

Discovery of time course of muscle action and nerve impulses by graphical methods.


Helmholtz apparently used a simplified version of a recording device named Kymograph (originally invented by Carl Ludwig), to obtain graphical representation of muscle action after stimulation. "These graphs proved that 'the energy of the muscle does not fully develop at the moment of an instantaneous stimulus, but only gradually increases, most often only after the stimulus has ceased, reaches a maximum, and again disappears" (Holmes and Olesko, 1995)
References:
Helmholtz:1850 Helmholtz:1852 HolmesOlesko:1995
1851
Map with diagrams
Added: 2008-07-17

Pie-map showing origin of meats consumed in ParisPie-map showing origin of meats consumed in Paris

Map incorporating statistical diagrams: circles proportional to coal production (published in 1861)


References:
Minard:1861
1852
Graphics in law
Added: 2008-07-17

Statistical graphics used in a lawsuit. (Reported by Ernst Engel at the 7th meetings of the International Statistical Congress, 1869, The Hague


References:
Funkhouser:1937
1853
1st international conference
Added: 2007-02-01

First international statistics conference (organized by Quetelet)


References:
Ravenstein:1875
1854
Ordonnateur Statistique
Added: 2012-06-05

Guerry's ordonnateur statistique is arguably the first mechanical device invented
to aid statistical calculation and the assessment of the relationship between
social and moral variables.


References:
none
1854
Train schedule graphic
Added: 2012-08-28

Graphic train schedule with mapGraphic train schedule with map
Published in St. Petersburg in May of 1854.

Graphic train scheduleGraphic train schedule

An augmented graphic representation of a train schedule for 35 railways stations, between St. Petersburg and Moscow. This was designed by Lt. Sergev in 1854.


References:
Wainer-Harik:2013
1854
Bridge collapse
Added: 0000-00-00

Collapse of the bridge on the RhoneCollapse of the bridge on the Rhone

Minard, a visual engineer, was asked to investigate the cause of the collapse of the bridge at Bourg St. Andeol on the Rhone in 1840.


References:
Tufte:1983
1855
Dot map of disease
Added: 2008-07-17

Snow portraitSnow portrait

Cholera mapCholera map

Use of a dot map to display epidemiological data, leads to discovery of the source of a cholera epidemic.


References:
Snow:1855 Gilbert:1958
1857
Standardization of graphs
Added: 2008-07-17

Discussion of standardization and classification of graphical methods at the Third International Statistical Congress


References:
Congress:1858
1857
Exhibition
Added: 2008-07-17

Exhibition display of graphs and cartograms. Third International Statistical Congress


References:
Congress:1858
1857
Coxcombs
Added: 2008-07-17

re-creation of a coxcombre-creation of a coxcomb

Nightingale coxcombNightingale coxcomb

Nightingale portraitNightingale portrait

Coxcomb of Cholera deaths by William FarrCoxcomb of Cholera deaths by William Farr

Coxcomb of London Plague by William FarrCoxcomb of London Plague by William Farr

William Farr portraitWilliam Farr portrait

Polar area charts, known as "coxcombs'' (used in a campaign to improve sanitary conditions of army)


Florence Nightingale is often credited with the invention of this form of a polar area chart, however it is likely that she got the idea from William Farr. The earliest known use of this graphic form is by Andre-Michel Guerry in 1829. See the link above.
References:
Nightingale:1857 Farr1852:report
1861
Modern weather map
Added: 2007-02-01

Galton's 1881 weather chartGalton's 1881 weather chart

Galton portraitGalton portrait
by Furse

1861, Dec.7. Morning, Afternoon, Evening. 1861, Dec.7. Morning, Afternoon, Evening.

Charts of the temprature, wind, rain and borometer in the morning. Charts of the temprature, wind, rain and borometer in the morning.

The modern weather map, a chart showing area of similar air pressure and barometric changes by means of glyphs displayed on a map. These led to the discovery of the anti-cyclonic movement of wind around low-pressure areas


References:
Galton:1861
1861
Trichromatic process
Added: 2007-02-01

Maxwell portraitMaxwell portrait

Invention of the trichromatic process for making color photographs, by taking three monochrome images through red, green and blue filters


References:
none
1863
Semilogarithmic grid
Added: 2008-07-17

Graphical method, fromGraphical method, from

Quantitative induction, fromQuantitative induction, from

Jevons portraitJevons portrait

The first semilog chartThe first semilog chart

Semilogarithmic grid (showing percentage changes in commodities)


References:
Jevons:1879 Jevons:1863
1868
Diagrams in textbook
Added: 2008-07-17

Levasseur portraitLevasseur portrait

Statistical diagrams used in a school textbook


References:
Levasseur:1868
1869
Stereogram
Added: 2008-07-17

Zeuner portraitZeuner portrait

Three-dimensional population surface or "stereogram,'' with axonometric projection to show curves of various "slices'' (sometimes known as a "Zeuner diagram)''


References:
Zeuner:1869
1869
Flow map
Added: 2007-02-01

Minard's March on Moscow graphicMinard's March on Moscow graphic

Minard's flow map graphic of Napoleon's March on Moscow (called "the best graphic ever produced)


References:
Tufte:1983 Minard:1869a
1869
Periodic table
Added: 2007-02-01

The periodic table used to classify chemical elements according to their properties, and allowing the prediction of new elements that would be discovered later.


Mendeleev arranged all of the 63 elements, then known by their atomic weights, into groups possessing similar properties. Where a gap existed in the table, he predicted a new element would one day be found and deduced its properties. Three of those elements were found during his lifetime
References:
none
1870
Paris election map
Added: 2007-02-01

Montigny election mapMontigny election map

Election map of Paris, showing the breakdown of votes by parties


References:
Montigny:1869
1872
US Congress supports Graphics
Added: 2008-07-17

Congressional appropriation for graphical treatment of statistics


References:
none
1872
Graphics in census
Added: 2008-07-17

Use of statistical graphics by USA Government in census reports (cartograms of data from Ninth Census)


References:
Census:1872
1872
Classification of graphics
Added: 2008-07-17

Classification of statistical graphical treatments by form, with consideration of appropriate uses of color, graphical elements, limitations of perception. At the 8th ISI meetings, St. Petersburg.


References:
Schwabe:1872 Cheysson:1878
1872
Recording of motion
Added: 2007-02-01

Galloping Horse, 1878Galloping Horse, 1878

Galloping Horse, 1878Galloping Horse, 1878

1873
Trilinear coordinates
Added: 2007-02-01

Plot on trilinear graph paper by R. A. Fisher, ca. 1955Plot on trilinear graph paper by R. A. Fisher, ca. 1955

Gibbs portraitGibbs portrait

Graphical methods applied to explain fundamental relations in thermodynamics; this includes diagrams of entropy vs. temperature (where work or heat is proportional to area), and the first use of trilinear coordinates (graphs of (x,y,z) where x+y+z=constant)


References:
Gibbs:1873a Gibbs:1873b Bumstead:1961
1873
Semi-graphic table
Added: 2008-07-17

Loua scalogram of 40 characteristics of 20 Paris districts (2422 x 1932; 1386K)Loua scalogram of 40 characteristics of 20 Paris districts (2422 x 1932; 1386K)

Loua scalogram, color version (1212 x 960; 318K)Loua scalogram, color version (1212 x 960; 318K)

Shaded map of Paris showing number of inhabitants per house (935 x 615; 77K)Shaded map of Paris showing number of inhabitants per house (935 x 615; 77K)

First-known use of a semi-graphic table to display a data table by shading levels


Loua used this as a graphic summary of 40 maps of Paris, each showing some feature of the population by arrondisement. This device was later used by Bertin who also considered ways of reordering the rows and columns (the "reorderable matrix'') to make the pattern of high/low values more apparent.
References:
Loua:1873 Bertin:1967
1874
Age pyramid
Added: 2008-07-17

Population pyramidPopulation pyramid

Example of population pyramidExample of population pyramid
Population distribution of U.S. by age and sex

Age pyramid (bilateral histogram), bilateral frequency polygon, and the use of subdivided squares to show the division of population by two variables jointly (an early mosaic display) in the first true U.S. national statistical atlas


References:
Walker:1874
1874
Statistical contour map
Added: 2008-07-17

Estuaire de la Seine en 1834Estuaire de la Seine en 1834

Vauthier contour mapVauthier contour map

Vauthier contour mapVauthier contour map

Vauthier portraitVauthier portrait

Population contour map (population density shown by contours), the first statistical use of a contour map


References:
Vauthier:1874
1874
Two-variable color map
Added: 2007-02-01

Two-variable color map (showing the joint distribution of horses (red, vertical bars) and cattle (green, horizontal bars) in Bavaria, widths of bars $sim$ animals/km$^2$)


References:
vonMayr:1874
1874
Semi-graphic scatterplot
Added: 2008-06-03

Galton correlation diagram, fromGalton correlation diagram, from

Galton's first semi-graphic scatterplot and correlation diagram, of head size and height, from his notebook on Special Peculiarities


References:
Hilts:1975
1875
Lexis diagram
Added: 2008-07-17

Lexis diagramLexis diagram

Lexis diagram, showing relations among age, calendar time, and life spans of individuals simultaneously (but the paternity of this diagram is in dispute cite{Vandeschrick:2001})


References:
Lexis:1875
1875
Correlation
Added: 2007-02-01

Galton's first correlation diagramGalton's first correlation diagram

Galton's first illustration of the idea of correlation, using sizes of the seeds of mother and daughter plants


In 1875, Galton was interested in the inheritance of size in sweet-pea seeds, but appears to have tried with smaller seeds first, apparently that of cress. The isograms are represented by ink lines on the sheet of glass covering the little compartments which contain the ranked seeds of the daughter-plants.
References:
Pearson:1914 Pearson:1914
1877
Proportional square
Added: 2008-07-17

von Mayr's Area diagramvon Mayr's Area diagram

von Mayr portraitvon Mayr portrait

Mosaic graph by Von MayrMosaic graph by Von Mayr
Ninetwwenth-century German concept for a mosaic (Von Mayr, 1877, p.79). Courtesy University of Arkansas Library

First use of proportional, divided square in the modern (mosaic) form for data representation


References:
vonMayr:1877
1877
Star plot
Added: 2007-02-01

von Mayr's polar diagramvon Mayr's polar diagram

First use of polar diagrams and star plots for data representation


References:
vonMayr:1877 Ostermann:1999
1877
Correlation
Added: 2007-02-01

Early regression of height on weight for English schoolboysEarly regression of height on weight for English schoolboys

Early regression curves of height on weight for Boston schoolboysEarly regression curves of height on weight for Boston schoolboys

Extensive statistical study of 24,500 children to improve school practice; early ideas of correlation and regression by quoting the "measure of stoutness'', the ratio of annual increase in pounds weight to annual increase in inches height. Includes six charts, showing curvilinear regresions.


Separate series of graphs showing the regression of height (or weight) on age and weight on height
References:
Walker:1929 Walker:1929 Bowditch:1877
1877
Bayesian Distributions
Added: 2011-04-19

Galton's 1877 machineGalton's 1877 machine
Taken from Stigler (2011).

Galton's 1877 (hypothetical) machine for visualizing Bayesian inference using a prior distribution.


References:
Stigler:2011
1878
Description of graphic methods
Added: 2008-07-17

Marey portraitMarey portrait

1878
"Graph''
Added: 2008-07-17

Sylvester's diagram iconSylvester's diagram icon

Sylvester portraitSylvester portrait

The term "graph'' introduced, referring to diagrams showing analogies between the chemical bonds in molecules and graphical representations of mathematical invariants (also coined the term "matrix'')


References:
Sylvester:1878
1879
Stereogram
Added: 2008-07-17

Perozzo stereogram iconPerozzo stereogram icon

Perozzo stereogram imagePerozzo stereogram image

Perozzo ilustration of systems for 3D representationPerozzo ilustration of systems for 3D representation

Stereogram (three-dimensional population pyramid) modeled on actual data (Swedish census, 1750--1875)


References:
Perozzo:1880
1879
Graph paper
Added: 2008-07-17

Published instructions on how to use graph paper


References:
Jevons:1879
1879 to 1899
Album de Statistique Graphique
Added: 2008-07-17

Album de Statistique Graphique, an annual series over 20 years, using all known graphic forms (map-based pies and stars, mosaic, line graphs, bar charts, and, of course, numerous flow maps) to depict data relevant to planning (railways, canals, ports, tramways, etc.) [This series, under the direction of Émile Cheysson, is regarded as the epitome of the "Golden Age of Statistical Graphics'']


References:
Album:1879 Palsky:1996
1880
Venn diagram
Added: 2004-11-03

Venn diagramVenn diagram

Venn portraitVenn portrait

Representation of logical propositions and relations diagrammatically. [Actually, Liebnitz and, to some degree, Euler had used such diagrams previously.]


References:
Venn:1880 Venn:1881
1882
Motion
Added: 2008-07-17

Somersault iconSomersault icon

Somersault image sequenceSomersault image sequence

Invention of precursor of motion-picture camera, recording a series of photographs to study fight of birds, running and walking


References:
Marey:1873
1882
Statistical reasoning
Added: 2007-02-01

Bertillon portraitBertillon portrait

Statistical reasoning employed to create a new system of bodily measurement, specifically for identifying criminals


References:
none
1883
Logarithmic paper
Added: 2008-07-17

Patent issued on logarithmic paper (reported to the British Association for the Advancement of Science, in 1898). Also called "semi-log,'' "arith-log'' paper and "ratio charts''


References:
Vincent:1898
1883 to 1885
Multi-function nomograms
Added: 2007-02-01

Lallemand's "L'Abaque Triomphe''Lallemand's "L'Abaque Triomphe''

Combination of many variables into multi-function nomograms, using 3D, juxtaposition of maps, parallel coordinate and hexagonal grids (L'Abaque Triomphe)


Lallemand was director of the "Service de nivellement de la France,'' designed to establish the heights of locations, water levels and tides throughout France, taking geodetic measurement to the third dimension. He also served as Inspector General of Mines.
References:
Lallemand:1885
1884
Pictogram
Added: 2008-07-17

Mulhall pictogram imageMulhall pictogram image

Mulhall pictogram image, steam power (730 x 457; 52K)Mulhall pictogram image, steam power (730 x 457; 52K)

Man, animal and machine pictogramMan, animal and machine pictogram

Mulhall pictogram image, railways (726 x 456; 58K)Mulhall pictogram image, railways (726 x 456; 58K)

Pictogram, used to represent data by icons proportional to a number


References:
Mulhall:1884
1884
Punched card tabulation
Added: 2008-07-17

Hollerith punched card machine: reader-sorterHollerith punched card machine: reader-sorter

Hollerith punched cardHollerith punched card

Hollerith portraitHollerith portrait

Invention of the punched card for use in a machine to tabulate the USA Census (in 1890). Hollerith's company eventually became IBM


References:
none
1884
Alignment diagrams
Added: 2007-02-01

Traction of a locomotive in three coordinate systemsTraction of a locomotive in three coordinate systems

Diagram of parallel coordinates fromDiagram of parallel coordinates from

The first alignment diagrams, using sets of parallel axes, rather than axes at right angles; development of the essential ideas used in parallel coordinates plots. [Using the principle of duality from projective geometry, d'Ocagne (1885) showed that a point on a graph with Cartesian coordinates transformed into a line on an alignment chart, that a line transformed into a point, and, finally, that a family of lines or a surface transformed into a single line cite(Hankins:1999)]


Diagrams with parallel axes had been used before, notably in the 1870 Statistical Atlas of the United States by Francis Walker. For example, Plate 97 shows mortality of different racial and national groups according to age and disease categories.
References:
Hankins:1999 Ocagne:1885 Ocagne:1899
1884
Two-dimensional world
Added: 2004-10-03

Abbott portraitAbbott portrait

A literary description of life in a two-dimensional world for people living in a 3D world. By analogy and extension, it suggests the possibile views of fourth and higher dimensions


References:
Abbott:1884
1885
Correlation
Added: 2008-07-17

Galton diagram of bivariate normal distributionGalton diagram of bivariate normal distribution

Galton portraitGalton portrait

Normal correlation surface and regression, the idea that in a bivariate normal distribution, contours of equal frequency formed concentric ellipses, with the regression line connecting points of vertical tangents


References:
Galton:1885
1885
Review of graphics
Added: 2002-01-05

Four type of graphs illustrated by LevasseurFour type of graphs illustrated by Levasseur

Area diagram comparing populations of countries to their coloniesArea diagram comparing populations of countries to their colonies

Circle diagram of Infant mortality by month in BrusselsCircle diagram of Infant mortality by month in Brussels

Population density in France in 1866Population density in France in 1866

Comprehensive review of all available statistical graphics presented to the Statistical Society of London, classified as figures, maps, and solids (3D), perhaps the first mature attempt at a systematic classification of graphical forms


References:
Levasseur:1885
1885
Train schedule graphic
Added: 2007-02-01

Train schedule graphicTrain schedule graphic

Marey portraitMarey portrait

Graphic representation of a train schedule showing rate of travel along the route from Paris to Lyon. The method is attributed to the French engineer Ibry, but new evidence suggests that Lt. Sergeev had developed this method approximately 30 years earlier in Russia.


References:
Marey:1885 Tufte:1983
1888
1st anamorphic maps
Added: 2007-02-01

Cheysson portraitCheysson portrait

Several concentric versions of France representing relative travel timeSeveral concentric versions of France representing relative travel time
A map showing several concentric versions of France. Each version is sized according to the ratio of travel time from the center of France in that time period to the time needed in 1689.

First anamorphic maps, using a deformation of spatial size to show a quantitative variable (e.g., the decrease in time to travel from Paris to various places in France over 200 years)


References:
Palsky:1996
1889
Social mapping
Added: 2007-02-01

Booth's poverty map, largerBooth's poverty map, larger

Portion of Booth's poverty mapPortion of Booth's poverty map

Booth portraitBooth portrait

Street maps of London, showing poverty and wealth by color coding, transforming existing methods of social survey and poverty mapping towards the end of the nineteenth century


Charles Booth's work is a classic in several fields of social science, including sociology, urban studies, public administration, policy research, social surveys, demography and geography
References:
Booth:1889a Booth:1889
1892
Social data in museum
Added: 2008-07-17

Geddes portraitGeddes portrait

Social data, diagrams, including regional survey, incorporated in museum


References:
none
Added: 2008-07-17

Lumiere brothers portraitLumiere brothers portrait

First movie, with the cinématographe, using the principle of intermittent movement of film (16 fps), but producing smooth projection (first public film screening on December 28, 1895 at the Cafe Grand)


References:
none
1896
Area rectangles
Added: 2008-07-17

Bertillon mapBertillon map

Use of area rectangles on a map to display two variables and their product (population of arrondisements in Paris, percent foreigners; area = absolute number of foreigners)


References:
Palsky:1996 Bertillon:1896
1899
Log-square paper
Added: 2008-07-17

Idea for "log-square'' paper, ruled so that normal probability curve appears as a straight line


References:
Galton:1899