Diagrams, and particularly ‘infographics’ feel like an inherently modern phenomenon. Something that only people whose time is no longer consumed with avoiding plagues, scurvy and constant warring have the luxury of creating. But as 100 Diagrams That Changed the World: From the Earliest Cave Paintings to the Innovation of the iPod shows, there are some truly beautiful examples from medieval times and even earlier of man’s urge to bring order to the world around him through these highly technical yet aesthetically gorgeous works. Here’s a selection for your viewing, Pinning and printing pleasure:
Ptolemy’s World Map – Claudius Ptolemy, c. AD 150
Created around 700 years after the ancient Greeks realised the Earth is spherical, this map is an impressive world atlas, though note the disproportionately large Old World, and the errors in the extreme southern hemisphere.
Human Body – Andreas Vesalius, 1543
No-one had seen anatomical illustrations quite like De Humani Corporis Fabrica. Detailed and animated, these drawings have become some of the most important in medicine.
Flush Toilet – John Harington, 1596
There is the world pre-flushing toilet, and the world post-flushing toilet. This single invention improved living conditions in towns and cities immeasurably, allowing people to dispose neatly of their waste rather than literally throwing it out of the window into street-level cesspits.
Moon Drawings – Galileo Galilei, 1610
Until Galileo drew these detailed drawings of the moon – aided by his telescope – showing mountains and valleys, people thought the surface of the moon was smooth.
Line Graph – William Playfair, 1786
This 18th century graph was the first use of a line graph to display economical data.
Emoticons – Puck Magazine, 1881
This feature of ‘typographical art’ brings us the first known use of what could be called emoticons 😛
Intel 4004 CPU – Ted Hoff, Stanley Mazor, Masatoshi Shima, Federico Faggin, Philip Tai, and Wayne Pickette, 1971
Intel’s early demonstration board, which would later prove to be the grandaddy of all modern home computers.