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Milestones in data viz history

Important milestones and key historical personalities

April 10, 2013

Astronomy, statistics, probabilities and cartography, among other areas of knowledge, played an important role in the evolution of data visualization.

In fact, the need for identification of geographic locations during times of maritime and territorial expanding as well as measurement needs and develop demographic studies prompted the development of visualization forms that constitute the foundations of modern data visualization.

In this context, Michael Friendly has developed a project entitled “Project Milestones“, which presents important moments in the history of data visualization.

Among them, we can find contributions of:


William Playfair, engineer and founder of the graphical method in statistics.



Florence Nightingale, British nurse who stood out, among other achievements, for being a pioneer in the use of methods of visual representation, like pie charts (which had been introduced by Playfair).



Luigi Perozzo, Italian mathematician and statistician who stood out for being the first to introduce 3D graphical representations, allowing to visualize the relationships between three variables on the same graph.



Etienne-Jules Marey, French inventor dedicated to photography, and in particular to the analysis of movement in photographies. He was one of the first to introduce dynamic graphics and representation of dynamic processes/phenomena.



Friendly also presents other milestones, which can be found here, and you can also see the article about the Milestones Project here.

Written by Susana Pereira

Susana Simões Pereira, maths teacher and PhD in science teaching and communication. I enjoy games and photography and I'm passionate for science and art, specially when together in the same context. You can follow my updates on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.