A Brief History of Infographics

Books I Read

This piece sparked my interest in exploring the history of infographics. Excluding cave paintings, the history of infographics dates back to the 1600s:

In 1626 Christopher Scheiner published the Rosa Ursina sive Sol which used a variety of graphics to reveal his astronomical research on the sun. He used a series of images to explain the rotation of the sun over time (by tracking sunspots).

In 1786, William Playfair published the first data graphs in his book The Commercial and Political Atlas. The book is filled with statistical graphs, bar charts, line graphs, and histograms, that represent the economy of 18th century England.

Perhaps most famously, the English nurse Florence Nightingale, in 1857, used information graphics persuading Queen Victoria to improve conditions in military hospitals, principally the Coxcomb chart, a combination of stacked bar and pie charts, depicting the number and causes of deaths during each month of the Crimean War.

The piece in The Morning News

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