1900-1949: Modern Dark Ages

If the early 1800s were the "golden age" of statistical graphics and thematic cartography, the early 1900s could be called the "modern dark ages" of visualization (FriendlyDenis:2001:valois).

There were few graphical innovations, and, by the mid-1930s, the enthusiasm for visualization which characterized the late 1800s had been supplanted by the rise of quantification and formal, often statistical, models in the social sciences. Numbers, parameter estimates, and, especially, standard errors were precise. Pictures were- well, just pictures: pretty or evocative, perhaps, but incapable of stating a "fact" to three or more decimals. Or so it seemed to statisticians.

But it is equally fair to view this as a time of necessary dormancy, application, and popularization, rather than one of innovation. In this period statistical graphics became "main stream." Graphical methods entered textbooks (Peddle:1910, Gilman:1917, Haskell:1919, Palmer:1921, Karsten:1925), the curriculum (Costelloe:1915, Warne:1916), and standard use in government (Ayres:1919), commerce (Gantt:1919, Shewhart:1931) and science.

In this period graphical methods were used, perhaps for the first time, to provide new insights, discoveries, and theories in astronomy, physics, biology, and other sciences. As well, experimental comparisons of the efficacy of various graphics forms were begun, e.g., (Eells:1926), and a number of practical aids to graphing were developed. In the latter part of this period, new ideas and methods for multi-dimensional data in statistics and psychology would provide the impetus to look beyond the 2D plane.

Graphic innovation was also awaiting new ideas and technology: the development of the machinery of modern statistical methodology, and

the advent of the computational power which would support the next wave of developments in data visualization.

Added: 2007-02-01

On Chart Uniformity (pg. 1) - English Translation On Chart Uniformity (pg. 1) - English Translation
Proposals to bring uniformity in the preparation of charts: Bertillon, J., Cheysson, E., & Fontaine, M.

On Chart Uniformity (pg. 2) - English TranslationOn Chart Uniformity (pg. 2) - English Translation
Proposals to bring uniformity in the preparation of charts: Bertillon, J., Cheysson, E., & Fontaine, M.

On Chart Uniformity (pg. 3) - English TranslationOn Chart Uniformity (pg. 3) - English Translation
Proposals to bring uniformity in the preparation of charts: Bertillon, J., Cheysson, E., & Fontaine, M.

On Chart Uniformity (pg. 4) - English TranslationOn Chart Uniformity (pg. 4) - English Translation
Proposals to bring uniformity in the preparation of charts: Bertillon, J., Cheysson, E., & Fontaine, M.

On Chart Uniformity (pg. 5) - English TranslationOn Chart Uniformity (pg. 5) - English Translation
Proposals to bring uniformity in the preparation of charts: Bertillon, J., Cheysson, E., & Fontaine, M.

On Chart Uniformity (pg. 6) - English TranslationOn Chart Uniformity (pg. 6) - English Translation
Proposals to bring uniformity in the preparation of charts: Bertillon, J., Cheysson, E., & Fontaine, M.

This work by Cheysson and Fontaine, reported by Bertillon, was the first proposal of standards for graphical presentation. The paper "Proposals to bring uniformity in the preparation of charts" discusses some key recommendations, including cautious use of symbols and hieroglyphs, and sparing use of comparison by areas.

It is proposed that x and y scales be constructed so that the average behaviour corresponds to a curve of 45 degrees. Other attempts to formulate standards for graphical procedures at the International Statistical Congress are discussed in detail.


"We must be careful in wanting, in a graphic translation, to say too much at once. The main merit, one might say, the real purpose of the statistical chart, is the clarity." - Bertillon on Chart Uniformity
References:
vonHuhn:1931 Funkhouser:1937
1901
Smoothing time series
Added: 2009-11-02

Exports from England and IrelandExports from England and Ireland
A multiple line graph showing the value of British and Irish produce exported to other countries from 1855 to 1898 with a smoothing curve to show the average every year.

In one of the first statistical textbooks, Arthur Bowley (1901) illustrated an arithmetic and graphical analysis of time-series data using the total value of British and Irish exports from 1855-1899.  He presented a line graph of the time-series data, supplemented by overlaid line graphs of 3-, 5- and 10-year moving averages.  His goal was to show that while the initial series showed wide variability, moving averages made the series progressively smoother.


References:
Bowley:1901
1904
Butterfly diagram: sunspots
Added: 2008-07-17

Maunder's butterfly diagramMaunder's butterfly diagram

1904 Butterfly Diagram: Sunspots1904 Butterfly Diagram: Sunspots
Edward Maunder discovered that sun spots reappear regularly at certain latitudes of the Sun. The cycle lasts approximately 11 years.

Use of the "butterfly diagram'' to study the variation of sunspots over time, leading to the discovery that they were markedly reduced in frequency from 1645--1715 (the "Maunder minimum''). [Earlier work, started in 1843 by H. Schwabe, showed that sunspots exhibit an approximately twenty-two year cycle, with each eleven-year cycle of sunspots followed by a reversal of the direction of the sun's magnetic field]


References:
none
1905
Lorenz curve
Added: 2008-07-17

Lorenz CurveLorenz Curve

Lorenz curve (cumulative distribution by rank order, to facilitate study of concentrations, income distribution)


References:
Lorenz:1905
1910
Diagrams in textbook
Added: 2008-07-17

Statistical diagrams begin to appear regularly in USA textbooks (graphs of temperature, population in texts of arithmetic, algebra)


References:
BenigerRobyn:1978
1910
Diagrams in textbook
Added: 2008-07-17

Textbook in English devoted exclusively to statistical graphics


References:
Peddle:1910
1911
Exhibition of graphs
Added: 2007-02-01

Trellis-like time series graphs of tuberculosisTrellis-like time series graphs of tuberculosis

Trellis-like time series graphs of infant mortalityTrellis-like time series graphs of infant mortality

3D Histogram: The course of death in Saxony3D Histogram: The course of death in Saxony

Rosele portraitRosele portrait

First International Hygiene-Exhibition in Dresden, with 259 graphical-statistical figures of 35 national and international exhibitors and more than 5 million visitors. [Roesle also wrote publications which dealt with the structure of graphical-statistical displays cite{Roesle:1913}.]


References:
Roesle:1911 Ostermann:01
1911 to 1913
Hertzsprung-Russell diagram
Added: 2002-12-02

Hertzprung's first 1911 graphsHertzprung's first 1911 graphs

early Hertzsprung-Russell diagramearly Hertzsprung-Russell diagram

modern Hertzsprung-Russell diagrammodern Hertzsprung-Russell diagram

The Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, a log-log plot of luminosity as a function of temperature for stars, used to explain the changes as a star evolves. It provided an entirely new way to look at stars, and laid the groundwork for modern stellar physics and evolution, developed independently by


References:
Hertzsprung:1911 SpenceGarrison:1993
1913
Arithmetic probability paper
Added: 2008-07-17

Probability paperProbability paper

Arithmetic probability paper, ruled so that normal ogive appears as straight line


References:
Hazen:1914
1913
Parade of graphics
Added: 2008-07-17

Photograph of the Parade of Statistical GraphicsPhotograph of the Parade of Statistical Graphics

Parade of statistical graphics, May 17, 1913, including large graphs on horse-drawn floats, and a photograph with people arranged in a bell-shaped curve


According to Brintonthe graph that most impressed people was one showing the decline in death rate due to improvements in sanitation and nursing.
References:
Brinton:1914
1913
Atomic number
Added: 2008-07-17

Moseley graph imageMoseley graph image

Moseley portraitMoseley portrait

Discovery of the concept of atomic number, based largely on graphical analysis (a plot of serial numbers of the elements vs. square root of frequencies from X-ray spectra) The linear relations showed that the periodic table was explained by atomic number rather than, as had been supposed, atomic weight, and predicted the existence of several yet-undiscovered elements


References:
Moseley:1913
1913 to 1914
Graphics college course
Added: 2008-07-17

College course in statistical graphic methods, "The Graphic Method'' (possibly the first)


References:
Costelloe:1915
1914
Standards for presentation
Added: 2008-07-17

Published standards for graphical presentation (by representatives from several scientific societies)


References:
JCSGP:1914
1914
Pictogram
Added: 2008-07-17

Comparative pictogram of copper productionComparative pictogram of copper production

Proportion of College GraduatesProportion of College Graduates

Ranks of states on educational features, Fig 33 (514 x 738; 112K)Ranks of states on educational features, Fig 33 (514 x 738; 112K)

Pictograms to represent a series of numbers by icons (combining concepts of the bar graph and pictogram of varying size)


References:
Brinton:1914
1915
Committee on graphics
Added: 2008-07-17

Creation of a standing committee on graphics


References:
none
1915 to 1925
Statistical theory
Added: 2007-02-01

R. A. Fisher portraitR. A. Fisher portrait

Beginnings of the development of modern statistical theory (sampling distributions (1915), randomization, likelihood (1921), small sample theory, exact distributions, analysis of variance (1925), etc.)


References:
Fisher:1925 Fisher:1915 Bennett:1989
1916
Course on graphic methods
Added: 2008-07-17

Correspondence course in graphical methods (20 lessons for , supplemented by a book of 100 specimen illustrations of bar, curve, and circle diagrams; entended title includes "There's an idea in every chart'')


References:
Warne:1916
1917
Gantt chart
Added: 2007-02-01

Gantt Project Gantt Project

Gantt chart, designed to show scheduled and actual progress of projects


As a mechanical engineer and management consultant, Gantt also designed the 'task and bonus' system of wage payment and developed methods of measuring worker efficiency and productivity.
References:
Gantt:1919
1918 to 1933
Course in methods
Added: 2008-07-17

Annual college course in statistical graphical methods


References:
none
1919
Statistical chartbook
Added: 2008-07-17

Social statistical chartbook, containing a variety of graphic and semi-graphic displays in a USA Government report. [The image below is a fine early example of a semi-graphic display, showing four variables simultaneously.]


References:
Ayres:1919 Tufte:1983
1919
Ethnographic maps used at Paris Peace Conference
Added: 2009-04-13

de Martonne portrait de Martonne portrait

Distribution of nationalities in the the countries dominated by Roumanians (2925 x 1959; 1026K)Distribution of nationalities in the the countries dominated by Roumanians (2925 x 1959; 1026K)

Use of ethnographic maps, showing the distribution of mixed nationalities, played an important role in redrawing national boundaries of Central Europe and the Balkans following World War I


De Martonne was a geographical expert and secretary of the Comité d'études, established by the French in 1915 to prepare guidelines for peace and the demarcation of boundaries. In this work, he had to develop ways to represent mixed distributions of different ethnic groups
References:
Palsky:1996 Martonne:1920
1920
Path diagram
Added: 2007-02-01

Wright's first path diagramWright's first path diagram

Wright portraitWright portrait

Invention of the path diagram to show relations among a network of endogenous and exogenous variables forming a system of structural equations


References:
Wright:1920
1920 to 1926
Textbooks on graphics
Added: 2008-07-17

Numerous textbooks on graphics, describing principles of graphical presentation of numerical information (published at a rate of about two each year), e.g.,


References:
Haskell:1919 Palmer:1921 Karsten:1925
1923
Television camera-tube
Added: 2007-02-01

Zworykin,portrait, with kinescopeZworykin,portrait, with kinescope

Invention of the iconoscope television camera-tube


References:
none
1924
ISOTYPE method
Added: 2008-07-17

Births and deaths in Germany, fromBirths and deaths in Germany, from

Infant mortality and social position in Vienna, fromInfant mortality and social position in Vienna, from

Number of men living in Europe, fromNumber of men living in Europe, from

Neurath Isotype imageNeurath Isotype image

Neurath portrait Neurath portrait

Museum of Social Statistical Graphics and the ISOTYPE system (International System of Typographic Picture Education)

Article on the ISOTYPE By Robert Kosara

References:
Neurath:1973 Neurath:1991
1924
First discovery of partial residual plots
Added: 0000-00-00

The essential idea behind what are now called partial residual plots are discussed in Ezekial's paper: "A method of handling curvilinear correlation for any number of variables". Later in history, this is rediscovered by Larsen and McCleary (1972).


References:
LarsenMcCleary:72 Ezekiel:1924
1925
Control chart
Added: 2007-02-01

Walter Shewhart portraitWalter Shewhart portrait

Development of the control chart for statistical control of industrial processes


References:
Shewhart:1931
1926
Test of graphics
Added: 2008-07-17

Experimental stimuliExperimental stimuli

Experimental test of statistical graphical forms (pie vs. subdivided bar charts)


References:
Eells:1926
1927 to 1932
Tests of graphics
Added: 2008-07-17

Graphical image used by Washburne: IncomeGraphical image used by Washburne: Income

Graphical image used by Washburne: Population of FlorenceGraphical image used by Washburne: Population of Florence

Spate of articles on experimental tests of statistical graphical forms


References:
Croxton:1927 CroxtonStryker:1927 Washburne:1927 CroxtonStein:1932 Huhn:1927
1927 to 1934
Vectors of the mind
Added: 2004-12-07

Thurstone portraitThurstone portrait

The birth of psychometrics, including unidimensional scaling (the law of comparative judgment) and multiple factor analysis. This would give rise to visualizations in one or more dimensions of psychological constructs, like attitudes, preferences, and abilities.


References:
Thurstone:1927 Thurstone:1934
Added: 2008-07-17

Henderson nomogram iconHenderson nomogram icon

Nomogram of chemical concentrations in blood, showing the relations among over 20 components


References:
Henderson:1928
1928
Ideograph
Added: 2007-02-01

Ideograph, a multivariate rectangular glyph, invented to display four variables and their relations (length and width of petals and sepals in iris flowers)


References:
Anderson:1928 Kleinman:2002
1929
Electroencephalograph
Added: 2007-02-01

Electroencephalograph invented, to record electrical signals from the brain via galvanometers that measure electrical signals from electrodes on the scalp. EEGs were printed on multiple-pen, strip-chart recorders, with each channel showing the the amplitude from a given electrode.


In 1924, Berger made the first EEG recording in man and called it Electroenkephalogram. Berger was the first to describe the different brainwaves in the normal and abnormal brain. He also researched the nature of changes in EEG for brain diseases such as epilepsy.
References:
none
1930
Timeline on log scale
Added: 2007-02-01

Table of historical events drawn on logarithmic paperTable of historical events drawn on logarithmic paper

Table of historical events drawn on logarithmic paper


von Foerster observed that the closer to the present, the more densely filled the paper was with historical events; conversely, the further you went back the thinner the table. Plotting the data using a logarithmic time scale allowed the history of time to be plotted on one table.
References:
none
1931
Log-log paper
Added: 2008-07-17

"Log Square'' paper ($log y, log x$, for relations which are linear in log scales)


References:
MartinLeavens:1931
1933
Std. statistical symbols
Added: 2008-07-17

Standard statistical symbols (Neurath's Isotype method) established by government decree (for schools, public posters, etc.)


References:
Neurath:1973
1933
London Underground map
Added: 2005-01-07

Beck's initial underground mapBeck's initial underground map

Beck portraitBeck portrait

Re-design of the routes of the London underground rail system to favor usability


Beck, an engineering draughtsman, designed the map like an electrical circuit board, using only vertical, horizontal and 45 degree angled lines. He located stations according to available space. The resulting map was geographically inaccurate, but easier to use to determine how to get from point A to B. Beck's idea was soon copied by most subway (and bus) companies around the world.
References:
none
1935 to 1950
Lapse of interest
Added: 2008-07-17

Lapse of interest in statistical graphics, as concern with formal, "precise'', and numerical methods gained ascendancy (the modern "dark ages'' of statistical graphics)cite{FriendlyDenis:2001:valois}.


References:
none
1937
History of graphics
Added: 2008-07-17

First modern review of the early history of statistical graphics


References:
Funkhouser:1937
1939
Memex
Added: 2007-02-01

Description of a memex, an associative information retrieval system which would help someone find information based in association and context rather than strict categorical indexing; conceptual creation of "hyperlink'' and the ''World Wide Web''


He foresaw this operating on an electric analog computer, which was completed in 1942. His description was published in the Atlantic Monthly, "As We May Think'' July, 1945
References:
none
1944
1st digital computer
Added: 2007-02-01

The "Mark I'' IBM ASCCThe "Mark I'' IBM ASCC

Harvard's Mark I, the first digital computer, put in service. Officially known as the "IBM Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator'' (ASCC), the Mark I was 50 feet long and weighed about 5 tons.


The first official record of the use of the word "bug'' in the context of computing is associated with a relay-basedHarvard Mark II computer, which was in service at the Naval Weapons Center in Dahlgren, Virginia. On September 9th, 1945, a mothflew into one of the relays and jammed it. The offending moth was taped into the log book alongside the official report, whichstated: "First actual case of a bug being found.''
References:
none
1944
Factor rotation machine
Added: 2007-02-01

Harry Harmon portraitHarry Harmon portrait

Development of an electro-mechanical machine to aid in the rotation of multidimensional factor analysis solutions to "simple structure.'' This allowed an analyst to carry out by direct manipulation of dials what one did by plotting pairs of factors, and hand calculation of the rotation matrices in earlier times [(work carried out under the Adjutant General for development of the Armed Forces General Classification Test) cite{Tucker:2002}]


References:
none