4406 entries. 94 themes. Last updated December 26, 2016.

Graphics / Visualization / Computer Generated Imagery Timeline


8,000 BCE – 1,000 BCE

The Earliest Images of a Wheeled Vehicle Circa 3,500 BCE – 3,350 BCE

Bronocice clay pot showing wheeled cart. (Click on image to view larger.)

Drawing showing detail of bronocice clay pot images including wheeled cart. (Click on image to view larger).

Drawing of wheeled cart. (Click on image to view larger.)

Evidence of wheeled vehicles appears from the mid 4th millennium BCE in Mesopotamia, the Northern Caucasus (Maykop culture) and Central Europe, so the question of which culture originally invented the wheeled vehicle remains unresolved.

The earliest well-dated image of a wheeled vehicle, radiocabon dated to 3500-3350 BCE, is on the Bronocice pot, a Funnelbeaker culture ceramic vase discovered in 1976 during the archaeological excavation of a large Neolithic settlement in Bronocice by the Nidzica River, circa 50 km north-east of Kraków.  The vase is preserved in the Archaeological Museum in Kraków.

Images on the Bronice pot include five rudimentary representations of what seems to be a wagon. They represent a vehicle with a shaft for a draught animal, and four wheels. The lines connecting them probably represent axles. The circle in the middle possibly symbolizes a container for harvest. These images suggest the existence of wagons in Central Europe as early as in the 4th millennium BCE. The wagons were presumably drawn by aurochs, ancestors of domestic cattle, whose remains were found with the pot. Their horns were worn out as if tied with a rope, possibly a result of using a kind of yoke,

Other images on the pot include a tree, a river and what may be fields intersected by roads or ditches or the layout of a village.

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Pavlopetri: the Oldest Submerged Town Site 2,800 BCE

Discovered in 1967 by Nicolas Flemming and first mapped in 1968, the city of Pavlopetri, underwater off the coast of southern Laconia in Peloponnesos, Greece, is the oldest submerged archeological town site, and though the buildings were eroded over the millenia, the city is unique in having an almost complete town plan, including streets, buildings, and tombs. It is now believed that the town was submerged around 1000 BCE, and because the area never reemerged from the sea, it was neither built-over nor disrupted by agriculture. It has at least 15 buildings submerged in 3 to 4 metres (9.8–13 ft) of water. The ancient name of the city is unknown; the name Pavlopetri ("Paul's and Peter's", or "Paul's stone") is the modern name for the islet and beach, presumably named for the two Christian saints that are celebrated together.

Earlier, the ruins of Pavlopetri were dated to the Mycenaean period, 1600-1100 BC. Later studies showed an older occupation date starting no later than 2800 BCE, so it also includes early Bronze Age middle Minoan and transitional material.

The site is under threat of damage by boats dragging anchors, as well as by tourists and souvenir hunters. In 2009 John C. Henderson from the University of Nottingham and team began archeological work on Pavlopetri, to map the site in great detail using the latest technology. As a result, Pavlopetri became the first submerged town to be digitally surveyed in three dimensions using sonar mapping techniques developed by military and oil prospecting organizations.  Because the archeologists collected 3D digital information in the survey process their data allowed a 3D digital reconstruction of the site by computer graphics professionals.

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30 CE – 500 CE

The Earliest Diagrams Representing Human Activity: Ancient Greek Military Tactics, Including the Macedonian Phalanx, Applied as Late as the 16th and 17th Centuries Circa 150 CE – 1650

On Military Arrangements of the Greeks (Περὶ Στρατηγικῶν Τάξεων Ἑλληνικῶν), written by the Greek military writer Aelianus Tacticus  (Αἰλιανός Τακτικός) who lived in Rome during the second century CE, was a handbook of Greek, i.e. Macedonian, drill and tactics as practiced by the Hellenistic successors of Alexander the Great. The treatise, which is most often referred to as Aelian's Tactics or Tactica, was of particular value for its explanation of the operation of the Macedonian phalanx, an infantry formation developed by Philip II of Macedon, and used by his son Alexander the Great to conquer much of the known world. 

"Philip II spent much of his youth as a hostage at Thebes, where he studied under the renowned general Epaminondas, whose reforms were the basis for the phalanx. Phalangites were professional soldiers, and were among the first troops ever to be drilled, thereby allowing them to execute complex maneuvers well beyond the reach of most other armies. They fought packed in a close rectangular formation, typically eight men deep, with a leader at the head of each column and a secondary leader in the middle, so that the back rows could move off to the sides if more frontage was needed.

"Each phalangite carried as his primary weapon a sarissa, a double-pointed pike over 6 m (18 ft) in length. Before a battle the sarissa were carried in two pieces and then slid together when they were being used. At close range such large weapons were of little use, but an intact phalanx could easily keep its enemies at a distance; the weapons of the first five rows of men all projected beyond the front of the formation, so that there were more spearpoints than available targets at any given time. The secondary weapon was a shortsword called a kopis, which had a heavy curved section at the end.

"Neither Philip nor Alexander actually used the phalanx as their arm of choice, but instead used it to hold the enemy in place while their heavy cavalry broke through their ranks. The Macedonian  cavalry fought in wedge formation and was stationed on the far right; after these broke through the enemy lines they were followed by the hypaspists, elite infantrymen who served as the king's bodyguard, and then the phalanx proper. The left flank was generally covered by allied cavalry supplied by the Thessalians, which fought in rhomboid formation and served mainly in a defensive role.

"Other forces — skirmishers, range troops, reserves of allied hoplitesarchers, and artillery — were also employed. The phalanx carried with it a fairly minimal baggage train, with only one servant for every few men. This gave it a marching speed  that contemporary armies could not hope to match — on occasion forces surrendered to Alexander simply because they were not expecting him to show up for several more days. Phalangites were drilled to perform short forced marches if required" (Wikipedia article on Macedonian phalanx, accessed 07-06-2014).

Even though the Macedonian phalanx was eventually displaced by the Roman legion, it was widely revived during the Renaissance, and was most extensively applied during the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, during which time Aelianus's work underwent several editions, translations and adaptations.

The earliest surviving manuscript of Aelian's Tactics is the Codex Laurentianus graecus 55.4 preserved in the Bibliotheca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence. This tenth century Byzantine manuscript is a collection of classical Greek, Hellenistic and Byzantine military treatises. In July 2014 a digital facsimile of the codex was available from the TECA Digitale of the Laurentian Library at this link. The manuscript contains non-figurative diagrams, using letters to represent soldiers in the infantry formations described by Aelian. These diagrams were characterized by Sydney Anglo, The Martial Arts of Renaissance Europe (2000) 61 as "the earliest examples of diagrams representing human activity."

Aelian's text first appeared in print in the Latin translation by the Greek humanist Theodorus Gaza (Θεόδωρος Γαζῆς, Theodoros Gazis) as De instruendis aciebus, issued from Rome by Eucharius Silber on February 15, 1487. The text was edited for publication by Italian humanist Johannes Sulpitius Verulanus (Fra Giovanni Sulpizio da Veroli). (ISTC no. ia00096495). In July 2014 a digital facsimile of that edition was available from the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek at this link. In the printed edition the diagrams were represented by letters of type arranged on the page to form the shapes of the infantry formations, perhaps somewhat simplified from the diagrams in the manuscript codices. Silber reissued Aelian's text in a collection entitled Scriptores rei militaris in 1494 (ISTC no. is00344000). In July 2014 a digital facsimile of that edition was available from the Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel at this link. In that edition Aelianus's diagrams were also represented by letters of type. On July 10, 1495 and January 17, 1496 printer Franciscus [Plato] de Benedictis (Francesco de Benedetti) of Bologna issued another collection with a similar title, but edited by Italian humanist Filippo Beroaldo (Phillipus Beroaldus). (ISTC no. is00345000). In July 2014 a digital facsimile of that edition was available from ETH-Bibliothek Zurch at this link. This edition also used letters to represent the infantry formations.

Following several 16th century Latin editions, the first separate edition in Greek, often called the editio princeps, of Aelian's Tactics was edited by Italian humanist Francesco Robortello and issued in Venice by Andrea and Giacomo Spinelli in 1552. Its full title was Περὶ Στρατηγικῶν Τάξεων Ἑλληνικῶν, De militaribus ordinibus instituendis more graecorum liber Francisco Robortello Vtinensi nunc primum Graece multis que imaginibus & picturis ab eodem illustratisThis finely printed and illustrated edition may have been the first to use small woodcut figures of the various types of soldiers and cavalry in the diagrams of the formations. Robortello based his text on Codex Venetus 904, dating from circa 1330, in the Biblioteca Marciana, Venice. When I wrote this entry in July 2014 I was unable to locate a digital facsimile of either Venetus 904 or the 1552 Robortello edition.

The actual first edition in Greek, or editio princeps, of Aelian was edited and printed in 1532 in Paris by scholar printer Michel de Vasconsan in a volume of Greek texts typically catalogued as Ὀνομάτων Ἀττικῶν Ἐκλογαὶ.... Dictionum Atticarum Collectio [et alia opera : PHRYNICHOS, Manuel MOSCHOPOULOS, AELIANUS TACTICUS, ORBICIUS]. Probably because Vascosan favored unadorned editions, he included no diagrams in his printing of Aelian. In July 2014 a digital facsimile of this edition was available from the Bibliothèque numérique of the Bibliothèque nationale de France at this link.

A letter to Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange from his cousin William Louis, Count of Nassau-Dillenburg dated December 8, 1594 provides the earliest documentation of the influence of Aelian's Tactics on military activity in the late sixteenth century. In this letter William Louis discussed the use of ranks by soldiers of Imperial Rome as explained in Aelian's Tactica. Aelian discussed the use of the countermarch in the context of the Roman sword gladius and spear pilum, but William Louis realized that the same technique could work for men with firearms:

"I have discovered ex evolutionibus [a term that would eventually be translated as 'drill'] a method of getting the musketeers and others with guns not only to practice firing but to keep on doing so in a very effective battle order (that is to say, they do not fire at will or from behind a barrier. . . .). Just as soon as the first rank has fired, then by the drill [they have learned] they will march to the back. The second rank, either marching forward or standing still, will then fire just like the first. After that, the third and following ranks will do the same. When the last rank has fired, the first will have reloaded, as the following diagram shows: those little dots [stippelckens] show the route of the ranks as they leave after firing" (Parker, "Military Revolutions, Past and Present," in Yerxa (ed.) Recent Themes in Military History [2008] 13.)

Aelian's work was first translated into English, heavily annotated by Captain John Bingham, and published in London in 1616, as The Tactiks of Aelian; or Art of Embattailing an Army after ye Grecian manner Englished & illustrated with figures throughout: & notes upon ye Chapters of ye ordinary motions of ye Phalange by I. B. Th exercise military of ye English by ye order of that great generall Maurice of Nassau Prince of Organe &c Gouvernor & Generall of ye united provinces is added. As implied by the title, Bingham servered under Maurice of Nassau. The first edition has an elegant engraved title page and beautiful engraved versions of the formations on 50 inserted folding plates. Bingham's translation was revised by Ralph Mab and reissued in 1631. 

In 2012 Christopher Matthew issued The Tactics of Aelian or On the Military Arrangements of the Greeks. A New Translation of the Manual that Influenced Warfare for Fifteen Centuries. This edition, with parallel Greek and English texts, an informative introduction, and new, easier to comprehend versions of the diagrams, is highly recommended.

Hale, Renaissance War Studies (1983) 266, 438.  

Roberts, Keith, Pike and Shot Tactics 1590-1660, illustrated by Adam Hook (2010) is also highly recommended.

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The Forma Urbis Romae, Monumental Stone Map of Ancient Rome 203 CE – 211 CE

A reconstruction of a portion of the Forma Urbis Romae, showing a section of the Theater of Pompey. (View Larger)

The Forma Urbis Romae, or Severan Marble Plan, a huge map of ancient Rome, was created under emperor Septimius Severus between 203 and 211 CE, and originally measured 18.10 meters (60ft) high by 13 meters (43ft) wide, carved in 150 marble slabs mounted on an interior wall of the Templum Pacis. Only about 10-15% of the map survives, broken into 1,186 pieces. Of these, 712 fragments have been catalogued, many composed of several pieces, but in 1996 less than 50 of the fragments had been positively identified and located. What is left of the map is preserved in the Palazzo dei Conservatori of the Capitoline Museums.

"Created at a scale of approximately 1 to 240, the map was detailed enough to show the floor plans of nearly every temple, bath, and insula in the central Roman city. The boundaries of the plan were decided based on the available space on the marble, instead of by geographical or political borders as modern maps usually are.

"The Plan was gradually destroyed during the Middle Ages, with the marble stones being used as building materials or for making lime. In 1562, the young antiquarian sculptor Giovanni Antonio Dosio excavated fragments of the Forma Urbis from a site near the Church of SS. Cosma e Damiano, under the direction of the humanist condottiere Torquato Conti, who had purchased excavation rights from the canons of the church. Conti made a gift of the recovered fragments to Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, who entrusted them to his librarian Onofrio Panvinio and his antiquarian Fulvio Orsini. Little interest seems to have been elicited by the marble shards" (Wikipedia article on Forma Urbis Romae, accessed 12-23-2009).

♦ In 1999 Marc Levoy and members of his team at Stanford University began the Digital Forma Urbis Romae Project as a way of solving the jigsaw puzzle of the 1,186 marble fragments and 87 fragments known only from Renaissance drawings:

"First, we digitized the shape and surface of every known fragment of the Severan Marble Plan using laser range scanners and digital color cameras; the raw data collected consists of 8 billion polygons and 6 thousand color images, occupying 40 gigabytes. These range and color data have been assembled into a set of 3D computer models and high-resolution photographs - one for each of the 1,186 marble fragments. Second, this data has served in the development of fragment matching algorithms; to date, these have resulted in over a dozen highly probable, new matches. Third, we have gathered the Project's 3D models and color photographs into a relational database and supported them with archaeological documentation and an up-to-date scholarly apparatus for each fragment. This database is intended to be a public, web-based, research and study tool for scholars, students and interested members of the general public alike. Fourth, these digital and archaeological data, and their availability in a hypertext format, have the potential to broaden the scope and type of research done on this ancient map by facilitating a range of typological, representational and urbanistic analyses of the map, some of which are proposed here. In these several ways, we hope that this Project will contribute to new ways of imaging Rome" (http://graphics.stanford.edu/papers/forma-williams/, accessed 12-23-2009).

Nancy Thomson de Grummond, ed., An Encyclopedia of the History of Classical Archaeology I (1996)  451.

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One of the Few Scraps of Classical Literary Illustration on Papyrus Circa 250 CE

The Heracles Papyrus. (View Larger)

The Heracles Papyrus, preserved in Oxford at the Sackler Library (Oxyrhynchus Pap. 2331), is a fragment of about the labors of Heracles dating from about 250 CE. It contains three unframed colored line drawings of the first of the Labors, with the strangling of the lion set within the columns of cursive text. Found at Oxyrhynchus, it is one of the few surviving scraps of classical literary illustration on papyrus. The fragment is 235 by 106 mm.

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The Porphyrian Tree: The Earliest Metaphorical Tree of Knowledge 270 CE

About 270 Neoplatonic philosopher Porphyry of Tyre (Πορφύριος, Porphyrios) published his Introduction (εἰσαγωγή, Isagoge) to logic, perhaps while he was in Rome. In this work, which was translated into Latin by Anicus Manlius Severinus Boëthius, and remained a disseminated and copied text throughout the Middle Ages, Porphyrios reframed the predictables (praedicamenta) defined by Aristotle in his Organon into a list of five classes: genus (genos), species (eidos), difference (diaphora), property (idion), and accident (sumbebekos). From these Porphyrios created the scala praedicamentalis, or Porphyrian Tree (Tree of Porphyry, Arbor Porphyriana).

Porphyry's introduction was the most successful work of its kind ever published. Translated into many languages, for 1500 years every student read it as the first text on its subject. As a result, its influence was immense in philosophy and logic, and in the organization of knowledge, and its visualization in arborial form.

"Expanding on Aristotle's Categories and visually alluding to a tree's trunk, Porphyry's structure reveals the idea of a layered assembly in logic. It is made of three columns of words, where the central column contains a series of dichomatous divisions between genus and species, whcih derive from the supreme genus, Substance. Even through Porphyry himself never drew such an illustration—his original tree was purely textual in nature—the symbolic tree of Porphyry was frequently represented in medieval and Renaissance works on logic and set the stage for theological and philosophical developments by scholars throughout the ages. It was also, as far as we know, the earliest metaphorical tree of knowledge" (Lima, Visual Complexity: Mapping Patterns of Information [2011] 28).

The standard of edition of Porphryios's text is Porphyri. Introduction, Translated with a Commentary by Jonathan Barnes (Oxford, 2003). Of this work of xxxi, 415pp., only the first 19 pages consist of the translation of Porphyri's brief text. From it we learn that

"as a young man he [Porphyry] removed to Athens, where he studied rhetoric, mathematics and philosophy with Longinus, the 'living library and walking museum'. . .In 263 he migrated to Rome and joined the magic circle of Plotinus.. .. He became a fevern and favoured acolyte of Plotinus . But he remained with him for no more than five years; in 268 he fell sick with a melancholy and Plotinus urged him south to Sicily for his health's sake.

"In 270 Plotinus died. Later, Porphyry returned to Rome, where he lectured on his master's philosophy—and where, in 301, he made public his edition of Plotinus' Enneads. When, and for how long, he was back in Rome we cannot tell; nor is it known when he visited North Africa (where he stayed long enough to befriend a partridge). Late in life he married (and not for love). In a letter to his wife Marcella, he explains that he must leave her to look after the 'interests of the pagans...: some have inferred that Porphyry, an enemy of Christianity, was summoned to the imperial capital to advise the persecuting Emperor Diocletian. 

"The date and place of his death are unknown" (Barnes p. x).

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1200 – 1300

Llull's Tree of Knowledge September 29, 1295 – April 1, 1296

Detail of image "Arbor Vegetalis" from Llull's Arbor scientiae.  Please click to view larger image.

Detail of title page of Llull's Arbor scientiae.  Please click to view larger image.

Ramon Llull.

Between September 29, 1295 and April 1, 1296 Majorcan writer, philosopher, logician and polymath Ramon Llull published Arbor scientiae. This encyclopedia and pioneering work in knowledge representation included sixteen trees of scientific domains following the initial tree called the arbor scientiae.

"An expression of his [Llull's] mystical universalism, this encyclopedic work concentrates on the central image of a tree of science, able to sustain areas of knowledge. Appearing the very beginning of the book, the illustration of the tree of science works as an introduction to his beguiling concept and a sort of arborescent table of contents. This great tree comprises eighteen roots, which relate to nine transcendent principles (not detailed) and nine art principles: difference, concord, contrareity, beginning, middle, end, majority, equality, and minority. The top of the tree is made of sixteen branches, each bearing a fruit and a label, representing the different domains of science, which are then depicted as individual trees in the remaining pages of the work.

"The first set of trees related to profane knowledge. . . .The second group covers the entirety of religious knowledge. . . ."  (Lima, Visual Complexity. Mapping Patterns of Information [2011] 31-35).

None of Llull's books appear to have been published in print in the fifteenth century. Editions of the Arbor scientiae, with their famous woodcut renditions of Llull's trees of knowledge began to appear early in the sixteenth century, of which an edition printed in Lyon, 1535 was available through Google Books in January 2013.

Dictionary of Scientific Biography VIII (1973) 547-550.

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1300 – 1400

One of the Most Beautiful Medieval Atlases 1375

In 1375 the Catalan Atlas (Atles català), an exquisitely beautiful cosmography, perpetual calendar, and thematic representation of the known world, was produced by the Majorcan cartographic school. Creation of the atlas has been attributed to Cresques Abraham (Abraham Cresques), a Jewish cartographer from Palma, Majorca (Mallorca).

"The Catalan Atlas originally consisted of six vellum leaves folded down the middle, painted in various colors including gold and silver. The leaves are now cut in half. Each half-leaf is mounted on one side of five wooden panels. The first half of the first leaf and the second half of the last leaf are mounted on the inner boards of a brown leather binding. Each measures approximately 65 × 50 cm. The overall size is therefore 65 × 300 cm.

"The first two leaves contain texts in Catalan language covering cosmography, astronomy, and astrology. These texts are accompanied by illustrations. The texts and illustration emphasize the Earth's spherical shape and the state of the known world. They also provide information to sailors on tides and how to tell time at night.

"The four remaining leaves make up the actual map, which is divided into two principal parts. The map shows illustrations of many cities, whose political allegiances are symbolized by a flag. Christian cities are marked with a cross, other cities with a dome. Wavy blue vertical lines are used to symbolize oceans. Place names of important ports are transcribed in red, while others are indicated in black.

"Unlike many other nautical charts, the Catalan Atlas is read with the north at the bottom. As a result of this the maps are oriented from left to right, from the Far East to the Atlantic" (Wikipedia article on Catalan Atlas, accessed 01-11-2013).

Since the 14th century reign of Charles V of France the Catalan atlas has been preserved in the Bibliothèque royale de France (now the Bibliothèque nationale de France.)

An authoritative reference is The Creques Project of Gabriel Llompart and Jaume Riera, accessed 10-11-2013).

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1400 – 1450

The Earliest Dated European Woodblock Print 1418 – 1423

St. Christopher woodcut, 1423.

The earliest dated European form of xylographic or woodblock prints are religious souvenirs known as "helgen." The earliest recorded helgen is a portrait of the Virgin dated 1418 in the Royal Library of Brussels, however, "there is the probability that it is only a copy, made about 1450, of an earlier print now lost, on which the artist retained the date of the original" (Clair, A Chronology of Printing [1969] 7).

The earliest known dated European woodblock print or woodcut is a portrait of St. Christopher dated 1423 preserved in the John Rylands Library, Manchester, England.

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Printing Playing Cards 1418

The Stuttgart Cards. Originally in the collections of the dukes of Bavaria, these are considered amongst the earliest surviving sets of playing cards.  They date from around 1430. A study of the watermarks in the paper revealed that the patper came from the Ravensburg paper mill and was made between 1427 and 1431.

Card makers, who presumably were card printers printing from wood-blocks, are mentioned five times in the city records of Augsburg and Nuremberg by 1418. About the same time the records of the city of Ulm in Germany show that cards were being shipped in barrels to Sicily and Italy.

Carter, History of Printing in China 2nd ed (1955) 186.

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1450 – 1500

Printing Required the Simplication of the Graphic Form of the Book Circa 1460

"The technical requirements of typography immediately introduced simplification in form, and all through the first half-century of printing we can see a relentless process of simplification of graphic form at work. This simplification consisted of a selection of those features of script that were essential for communication, and, conversely, the rejection of the endless variation in form and function that the writing hand can create. Written script forms can be ambiguous; there can be innumerable small distinctions in, say, the value of a capital as expressed by graphic means. In typography, on the contrary, such variation is impossible, once forms have become fixed in metal they force you to make decisions, either, for example to be seen as a capital or a lower-case character, and nothing in between. The often-heard observation that in the early years printed books imitated manuscripts fails to recognize a much more interesting phenomenon: a selection process of functional forms. It was the loss in subtlety and individuality that repelled some fastidious bookmen as diverse as the Florentine bookseller Vespasiano da Bisticci and the Burgundian prelate Raffael de Mercatellis, who both eschewed printed books in favour of manuscripts" (Hellinga, "The Codex in the fifteenth century: Manuscript and Print," Barker (ed.), A Potencie of Life. Books in Society [1993] 65-66).

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Albreht Pfister Publishes "Der Edelstein", the First Book Printed in German and the First Dated Book with Woodcuts February 14, 1461

On February 14, 1461 Albrecht Pfister of Bamberg, characterized as "a church dignitary and amateur printer," issued a book of fables: Der Edelstein by Ulrich Boner, a Dominican monk. Containing 101 woodcuts, this was also the first book printed in German, and the first dated book with woodcut illustrations.

"The woodcuts were impressed by hand in blanks left for the purpose in the printed text—much as though they had been rubber stamps" (Ivins, Prints and Visual Communication [1969] xi).

Only one copy of the original printing survived. It is preserved in the Herzog August Bibliothek at Wolfenbüttel. ISTC no. ib00974500.

A second edition issued by Pfister about 1462 contains 103 woodcuts. ISTC no. ib00974550. Of this too only one copy survived at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin. In December 2013 a digital facsimile of the second edition was available at this link.

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The first illustrated edition of Ptolemy's Cosmographia, the First Book with Engraved Maps 1477

Detail of map from Ptolemy's Cosmographia showing the southeastern coast of Spain.  Click on the link to view and enlarge the entire page from the book.

In 1477 the first illustrated edition of Ptolemy's Cosmographia, translated by humanist Giacomo d'Angelo da Scarperia (Jacopo d’Angelo, Jacopus Angelus da Scarperia) and edited by  Philippus Beroaldus and others, was published in Bologna by Dominicus de Lapis, but with the erroneous colophon date of 23 June 1462. The edition contained 26 copperplate maps.

For a long time date on the colophon of this edition was thought to have been a misprint for 1482, but manuscripts found in Bologna set the publication date in 1477. "It thus becomes the first book with engraved maps, and also the first book with the maps by a known artist, the plates having been engraved by Taddeo Crevilli of Ferrara" (Lone, Some Noteworthy Firsts in Europe during the Fifteenth Century [1930]) 41).

In November 2013 a digital facsimile of Hartmann Schedel's copy of this work from the Bayersiche Staatsbibliothek, München, was available at this link.

ISTC no. ip01082000.

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Discovery of a Lost Painting by Michelangelo? 1487 – 1488

According to Vasari, when he was twelve or thirteen Michelangelo painted a version of The Torment of St. Anthony based on an engraving by Martin Schongauer. This was one of only four known easel paintings by Michelangelo. For centuries art historians debated the existence of such a painting.

In 2008 a painting of The Torment of St. Anthony from a private collection was sold at Sotheby's London, with an attribution from the Florence workshop of Ghirlandaio, to whom Michelangelo was apprenticed. Adam Williams, a New York dealer, bought the painting, believing that it was by Michelangelo. Williams took it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for cleaning and study. In 2009 Williams sold it to the Kimball Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas.

" 'I had never seen it before,” Mr. Christiansen said. “I looked at it and said this is self-evidently Michelangelo. There’s a section of the rocks with cross-hatching. Nobody else did this kind of emphatic cross-hatching.”

"Michael Gallagher, conservator of paintings at the Metropolitan, cleaned and studied the painting.

" 'It was incredibly dirty,' he said. 'But once the centuries of varnish were removed, its true quality was evident.'

"Claire M. Barry, the Kimbell’s chief curator, heard about the work and came to the Met to see it. She then contacted Mr. Lee, who also inspected it and persuaded his board to buy it. Although no one will disclose the price, experts in the field say they believe the figure was more than $6 million.

"For centuries, art historians have known that Michelangelo copied an engraving of St. Anthony by the 15th-century German master Martin Schongauer for a painting. Michelangelo’s biographer and former student, Ascanio Condivi, said the young Michelangelo told him that while he was working on the painting, he had visited a local market to learn how to depict fish scales, a feature not found in the engraving.

"A painting of St. Anthony is also mentioned in Giorgio Vasari’s chronicle of Michelangelo’s life, although Vasari at first ascribed the original engraving to Dürer. But after Michelangelo complained, Vasari changed his account, naming Schongauer.

"Measuring 18 ½ inches by 13 1/4 inches, 'The Torment of St. Anthony' is at least one-third larger than the engraving. It is also not an exact copy; Michelangelo took liberties. In addition to adding the fish scales, he depicted St. Anthony holding his head more erect and with an expression more detached than sad.

"He also added a landscape to the bottom of the composition, and created monsters that are more dramatic than those in the engraving.

"Mr. Christiansen said studying 'The Torment of St. Anthony' with infrared reflectography had exposed layers of pentimenti, or under drawing, revealing what he called the master’s hand at work. And once the centuries of varnish were removed, the colors suddenly came alive. There is eggplant, lavender, apple green and even a brilliant salmon, which was used to depict the scales of the spiny demons. The palette, Mr. Christiansen said, is a prelude to the colors chosen for the Sistine Chapel’s vault" (Vogel, "By the Hand of a Very Young Master?," NY Times, May 12, 2009).

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Ketham's "Fasciculus medicinae", the First Medical Book with Anatomical Illustrations July 26, 1491

On July 26, 1491 Venetian printers Giovanni and Gregorio Gregoriis, de Forlivio,  completed the first printed edition of Fasciculus medicinae under the authorship of Johannes de Ketham. This collection of short medical treatises, some dating as far back as the thirteenth century, circulated widely in manuscript prior to printing. The printers may have attributed authorship of the collection to the former owner of the manuscript they printed: Johannes von Kirchheim, a professor of medicine in Vienna circa 1460. "Ketham" is a plausible Italian corruption of "Kirchheim."

The first edition of "Ketham" was the first printed medical book to have anatomical illustrations of any kind. It was followed by an Italian translation issued by the same printers in Venice 1493/94, which added Mondino's Anathomia to the collection. For this Italian edition, all but one of the illustrations were redrawn and four new outline wood-engravings added, showing scenes of medical practice in fifteenth-century Venice. The dramatically improved and more realistic illustrations, which were reproduced in the numerous later editions, are by an unknown artist, probably from the school of Giovanni Bellini.

In the woodcuts prepared for the Italian edition we see the first evidence of the transition from medieval to modern anatomical illustration. In the 1491 edition, the woodcut of the female viscera—like those of the Zodiac Man, Bloodletting Man, Wound-Man, etc.—was derived from the traditional non-representational squatting figure found in medieval medical manuscripts. However, the illustrations for the Italian edition "included an entirely redesigned figure showing female anatomy. . . . The scholastic figure from 1491 must have irritated the eyes of the artistic Venetians to such a degree that they immediately abandoned it. After this the female figure actually sits in an armchair, so that the traditional [squatting] position corresponds to a real situation" (Herrlinger, History of Anatomical Illustration, 66). 

Choulant, History and Bibliography of Anatomical Illustration (1920) 115-122.  Herrlinger  28-29; 65-66. J. Norman (ed) Morton's Medical Bibliography 5th ed (1991) no. 363.  Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 1211 (1495 edition). ISTC no. ik00013000.

In November 2013 a a digital facsimile was available from Harvard University Libraries at this link

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The First Illustration of a Printing Office & Bookshop in a Printed Book February 18, 1499

The first illustration of a printing press and printing office in a printed book appeared in Danse macabre, published in Lyon by Mathias Huss. The image shows death visiting a printing office and a bookseller's shop. Huss's book was one of numerous editions of The Dance of Death, or Danse macabre. 

"The first known illustration of a printing press was certainly not drawn to enlighten future generations as to its characteristics. It appears in an edition of the Danse Macabre, published in Lyons by Mathias Huss in 1499. Death is depicted carrying off a printer and a bookseller, and, such as it is, we may take it that the cut illustrates a French fifteenth-century printing office. Unfortunately, although the general construction of press can be made out, the very aspect which would have been of most interest—the way in which the platen was hung—is obscured by the struggling figure of the pressman. However, the illustration does show clearly the supports, or stays, between the top of the top of the press and the ceiling, which were found to be necessary to keep the press stable; a coarse wooden screw, and a straight pole or bar. Particularly interesting is the plank held up by a stay and on which there is a box, to which we may presume a tympan is hinged by what look like leather straps. No winding mechanism is visible and it may be conjectured that the box was pushed under the platen by hand at this date. The other pressman (or 'beater') is holding an ink-ball, which hardly changed in appearance until it was replaced by a roller some three hundred and fifty years later. Two ink-balls were used to ink the forme. They were made of untanned leather or sheepskin, stuffed with wool or hair, and nailed around a wooden handle or stock. Ink was spread out on to a slab and rubbed out thinly with a wooden device known as a brayer.

"The little rest, or gallows, gives additional credence of the idea that there was a tympan to be thrown back on it when the forme was being inked. The unusual position of the pressman, who usually stood next to his companion, is probably the result of the artist's license as he wanted to show the figure of Death full face" (Kinsman, The Darker Vision of the Renaissance: Beyond  the Fields of Reason [1974] 25).

ISTC. id00020500

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1500 – 1550

Fra Giovanni Giocondo Issues the First Illustrated Edition of Vitruvius May 22, 1511

 The first printed edition of 'De Architectura,' originally written by Roman architect Marcus Virtuvius Pollio, was printed in Venice in 1511 and contained 136 woodcut illustrations and diagrams.  (View Larger)

On May 22, 1511 Veronese architect, antiquary, archaeologist, and classical scholar, Fra Giovanni Giocondo published the first illustrated edition of Marcus Vitruvius Pollio's De architectura in Venice at the press of Giovanni Tacuino. The edition contained 136 woodcut text illustrations, woodcut initials and a woodcut title-border. The title-border, a continuous design in four parts incorporating dolphins, leaves and flowers, may be the original of one of the most influential and widely copied pieces of printed ornamentation in the 16th century. Geofroy Tory copied the border (without the shading) to use on his 1525 Horace, and variations of the floreated dolphin design appear in books from all the major European centers of printing.

This fourth printed edition, the first to be illustrated with more than diagrams, was prepared by Fra Giovanni Giocondo, the Veronese architect who took over the construction of St. Peter's in Rome after Donato Bramante's death. The illustrations probably date from around the time of printing, as those that might have accompanied Vitruvius's original text on papyrus rolls or early parchment codices had been lost for centuries.

Mortimer, Harvard College Library, Department of Printing and Graphic Arts, Italian 16th Century Books (1974) No. 543. Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) No. 2157.

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Johannes Herwagen Issues the First Printed Edition of the Greek Text of Euclid September 1533

In September 1533 Printer Johannes Herwagen (Hervagius) of Basel published Eukleidou Stoicheion biblon . . . , the first printed edition of the Greek text of Euclid's Elements. Herwagen's edition was an international project. The Greek text was edited by the German theologian and philologist Simon Grynaeus (Grynäus), using the first Latin translation made directly from the Greek by Bartolomeo Zamberti published in print in 1505, and two Greek manuscripts supplied by Lazarus Bayfius and Joannes Ruellius  (Jean Ruel). To this volume Grynaeus appended the first publication of the four books of Proclus's Commentary on the first book of Euclid's Elements, taken from a manuscript provided by John Claymond, the first President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. In a long introduction Grynaeus dedicated his translation to Cuthbert Tunstall, Bishop of Durham, England, and author of the first arithmetic book printed in English (London, 1522).

In the history of the very numerous editions of Euclid, the most widely-used of all textbooks for 500 years, Herwagen's edition stands out in the history of graphic design as the first edition to print the geometrical diagrams within the text.

The commentary on Euclid's first book of the Elements by the fifth century Greek neoplatonist philosopher Proclus is one of the most valuable sources for the history of Greek mathematics, and is considered the earliest contribution to the philosophy of mathematics.

Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) No. 730.

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1550 – 1600

Perrissin & Tortorel Issue the First Extended Series of Prints Attempting to Depict Great Events of the Recent Past 1569 – 1570

Between 1569 and 1570 French painter, engraver and architect Jean Perrissin, French printmaker Jacques Tortorel, and French printmaker Jacques Le Challeux — all Protestants (Huguenots) who had fled to Geneva to escape religious persecution in France— issued from Geneva an album of prints entitled Premier volume. Contentant quarante tableaux ou histoire diverse qui son memorables touchant les guerres, massacres & troubles advenus en France en ces dernieres annees. Le tout receuilli selon le tesmoignage de ceux qui y on esté en personne, & qui les on veus, lesquels son pourtrais à la verité. (First Volume, Containing Forty Tableaux or Diverse Memorable Histories Concerning the Wars, Massacres and Troubles that have Occurred in France in These Last Years. All Gathered from the Testimony of Those Who Were There in Person and Saw Them, and Truly Portrayed.) The images, of which some were copperplate engravings and some of which were woodcuts, consisted of the elaborate engraved title page and thirty-nine images, each measuring roughly 32 x 50 cm, depicting significant "wars, massacres, and troubles" in the French Wars of Religion between 1559 and 1570.

Remarkably the contract for this project between Perrissin, Le Challeux and the Geneva publishers Nicolas Castellin and Pierre le Vignon, drawn by the Genevan notary Aimé Santeur and signed on April 18, 1569, remains preserved in the archives of Geneva.

Typically attributed to Perrissin and Tortorel, as they were the artists who signed most of the plates, this work was:

"the first extended print series offering a pictorial account of recent events where the images do not simply illustrate a written history but carry the burden of telling the story themselves, and that was intended not to glorify a ruler's deeds but to show a broad general public the events of their time" (Philip Benedict, Graphic History. The Wars, Massacres and Troubles of Tortorel and Perrissin [2007] 4).

"Like so many works in this century when printing was still new and the Renaissance and Reformation were destabilizing old cultural forms and encouraging new ones, the Quarante Tableaux was an experimental work. It was experimental in the sense that it was produced by a group of artists and entrepreneurs with no prior experience in producing such a work. It was experimental in the more profound sense that no exact generic precedents could guide the series. Some earlier graphic works had sought to carry a historical narrative through pictures and accompanying text, but these were typically accounts of the victories of a great ruler, containing a strong element of panegyric. In proclaiming their goal to be the presentation of an impartial eyewitness view of the events in question, the makers of the Quarante Tableaux took this emerging genre in a new direciton, one inspired by both the growing market for single-sheet news prints that claimed to offer true portraits of individual events, and the prevailing rhetoric of written historiography in Geneva. . . The manner in which the creators of the series chose to relate printed text to image further heightened this indeterminacy or open-ended-ness. Reliance on Protestant networks of information recurrently subverted the creators' proclaimed goal of offering an impartial view of events, yet they used multiple informants and made a clear effort to transcend a purely partisan or one-sided view of events. The end result was a complex, even internally contradictory work that invited different forms of appropriation" (Benedict 10-11).

"The episodes depicted in the volume run from the special meeting of the Parlement of Paris in June 1559 at which Anne Du Bourg spoke out before Henry II against the harsh repression of Protestanism through a minor skirmish betwwen Huguenot and Catholic forces along the Rhône in March 1570. The first dozen or so plates show the events that led up to the outbreak of open civil war in spring 1562. The remainder of the series is composed of events from the first three French Wars of Religion (1562-1563, 1567-1568, 1578-70). Above all it is a compendium of battles (15 pictures), sieges (5 pictures, raids (4 pictures) and massacres (3 pictures-5 if the massacres prior to the outbreak of the First Civil War are included)" (Benedict 6).

Benedict reproduces all the images in fold out plates with commentaries on each image on facing pages so that the commentary may be studied with the image. In an appendix he also reproduces the original publishing contract for the work.  Through records of the quantity of paper that the publisher Castellin purchased during the printing Benedict shows that the work was a commercial success, and he traces different states of several of the prints with texts in different languages. Whether a second volume was planned remains unknown, though indication of "Premier volume" on the title page would imply as much. Unfortunately, any such project was definitively cut short by an outbreak of plague in Geneva in 1571, which killed three of Pierre Le Vignon's four children, and also killed Castellin and his three children.  Prior to that outbreak the artists Perrissin, Tortorel and Le Challeux had returned to France in 1570 once the Peace of Saint-Germain ended the civil war, and retored rights of worship in France.

Kunzel, The Early Comic Strip. Narrative Strips and Picture Stories in the European Broadsheet from c. 1450 to 1825 (1973) 40.

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1600 – 1650

Guillaume de Castelfranc Issues the First World Map Showing Isogonic Lines 1602 – 1604

During 1602 and 1604 French astronomer and geographer Guillaume de Castelfranc, called Le Nautonier, published the first world map that showed isogonic lines, or lines of geomagnetism. The map appeared in his Mecometrie de l’eymant, c’est a dire la maniere de mesurer les longitudes par le moyen de l’eymant. Par laquelle est enseigné, un tres certain moyen, au paravant inconnu, de trouver les longitudes geographiques de tous lieux,--aussi facilement comme la latitude. Davantage, y est monstree la declinaison de la guideymant, pour tous lieux. Oeuvre nécessaire aux admiraux, cosmographes, astrologues, geographes, pilotes, geometriens, ingenieux, mestres des mines, architectes, et quadraniers. De linvention de Guillaume de Nautonier sieur de Castelfranc en Languedoc ..., imprimé à Venes ches l'autheur par Raimond Colomies, imprimeur en l'Université de Tolose, & par Antoine de Courteneufve. Castelfranc's map was used in work on finding longitude by means of magnetic variation. The tables give the world distribution of the variation, by latitude, along each of the meridians.

There must have been an unusually large international demand for Castelfranc's book as in 1603 editions appeared in Latin, Castilian, English and Dutch. The first part was dedicated to Henri IV of France, the second to James I of England , and the third to Maximilien de Béthune, Duke of Sully and Grand master of artillery, and superintendent of fortifications. The work was used in 1603 by Samuel de Champlain for his cartographic work in New France

Friend, Valero-Mora, and Ibáñez Ulargui, "The First (Known Statistical Graph: Michael Florent van Langen and the 'Secret of Longitude." 2010. http://www.datavis.ca/papers/langren-TAS09154.pdf, accessed 01-08-2013.

Shirley, Mapping of the World, 240.

(This entry was last revised on 03-03-2015.)

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Galileo Issues Images of Revolutionary Discoveries Concerning the Universe; and the Story of a Remarkable Forgery November 1609 – March 13, 1610

After learning in 1609 that a Dutchman, Hans Lippershey, had invented an instrument that made faraway objects appear closer, Italian scientist Galileo Galilei, a resident of Padua, applied himself to discovering the principle behind this instrument. By late in 1609 he built a telescope of about thirty power. This he probably first turned to the heavens in November or December 1609, with astronishing and revolutionary results. In contradiction to the doctrines of Aristotle and Ptolemy, which taught that the celestrial sphere and its planets and stars were perfect and unchanging, Galileo's telescope showed that the surface of the moon was rough and mountainous, and the Milky way was composed of thickly clustered stars. In November or December 1609 Galileo painted six watercolors on a notebook page showing the phases of the moon, as he observed them through the telescope. These images, on a sheet preserved in Florence, at the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale (Ms. Gal. 48, f. 28r), were the first realistic images of the moon, and the first recorded images of bodies beyond the earth seen by man. 

On the night of January 7, 2010 Galileo set up a telescope on his balcony in Padua. He spotted three stars near Jupiter, and noted their positions in a notebook. Six days later Galileo returned to his telescope and found the same stars, but by then their position had changed. At that point he realized that the three stars were moons orbiting Jupiter— proof that the universe of stars was not fixed, as postulated by Ptolemy's geocentric theory, and evidence for Copernicanism. Three months later Galileo's Sidereus Nuncius, or Starry Messenger, was published in Venice in an edition of 550 copies. The Sidereus Nuncius described and illustrated with copperplate engravings the first astronomical observations made through a telescope. Its images provided revolutionary new information about the universe. Though it contained only the bare facts of Galileo's observations without any overt reference to the Copernican theory, Sidereus Nuncius aroused a sensation among the European learned community, for it provided the first hard evidence that the Aristotelian-Ptolemaic view of the universe contained inaccuracies. 

"He sent a copy of the book, along with the telescope he had been using, to the Grand Duke of Tuscany Cosimo II de’ Medici. Dr. [Owen] Gingerich said the pamphlet amounted to 'a job application' to the Medici family for whom, in one of history’s first examples of branding, Galileo named the four satellites of Jupiter. 'Other planets were gods or goddesses,' said Paolo Galluzzi, director of the Florence institute. 'The only humans with position in sky were Medicis.' The ploy worked, Cosimo II hired Galileo as his astronomer, elevating him from a poorly paid professor at the University of Padua to a celebrity, making the equivalent of $300,000, a year, Dr. Galluzzi said. Galileo returned the favor by giving Cosimo another telescope, clad in red leather and stamped with decorations" (Dennis Overbye, "A Telescope to the Past as Galileo Visits the U.S.", The New York Times, March 27, 2009.)

It is thought that Galileo built dozens of telescopes, of which two survive, both in the Institute for the History of Science (Museo Galileo) in Florence, Italy. One covered in decorated leather, which Galileo sent to Grand Duke Cosimo II de' Medici, retains only one of its original lenses, but the other, covered only in varnished paper, contains its original functioning optics, and has its focal length labeled in Galileo's handwriting on the outside of its tube. This telescope was loaned to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia for an exhibition from April to September 2009. (The online article in The New York Times included a video showing the original telescope being unpacked in Philadelphia.)


In June 2005 antiquarian bookseller Richard Lan (Martayan-Lan, Inc.) purchased a copy of the Sidereus nuncius from Marino Massimo De Caro and antiquarian bookseller Filippo Rotundo that was represented as a proof copy, signed by Galileo, originally from the library of Federico Cesi, founder of the Accademia dei Lincei. Instead of copperplate engraved illustrations as in other copies of the book, this copy contained watercolors of the phases of the moon similar to those which Galileo made at the end of 1609 and which are preserved in Florence. It was known that the Venetian printer had sent Galileo thirty copies with blank spaces indicating where etchings would be placed. Presumably this was one of those copies, in which Galileo had personally painted images for presentation to Federico Cesi, instead of having engravings printed in. The copy was examined by all the leading authorities, subjected to various tests, and was generally considered a unique proof copy.

The Martayan Lan copy was included in the discussions in a symposium convened at the Library of Congress in November 2010 entitled "Galileo's Moons," intended to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Sidereus Nuncius and the acquisition by the Library of Congress of an uncut copy of the first edition bound in the original limp paper boards. Papers presented at this symposium accepted the authenticity of the Martayan Lan copy.

In 2011 De Gruyter published a rather grand 2-volume set, fully illustrated in color, based on research begun in 2007. Volume one, edited by Irene Brückle and Oliver Hahn, was entitled Galileo's Sidereus Nuncius. A comparison of the proof copy (New York) with other paradigmatic copies. Volume two, written by Paul Needham, was entitled Galileo Makes a Book. The First Edition of Sidereus Nuncius, Venice 1610. Regarding the significance of Needham's study, I quote from the review by G. Thomas Tanselle, Common Knowledge19, #3, (Fall 2013), 575-576:

"Needham’s book is based on eighty-three other copies, and he draws as well on Galileo’s letters, drafts, and various external documents. The result is a detailed account of the early months of 1610, from January 15, when Galileo decided he must publish his discoveries, to March 13, when the printing was completed; an additional chapter discusses the book’s distribution and Galileo’s corrections in some copies. The task of bibliography, as stated by Needham, is to know “the materials and human actions that produced (in multiple copies) the structure of a printed book.” Systematically he takes up the paper, type, and format of Sidereus Nuncius and provides a quire-by-quire analysis of its production, making exemplary use of many techniques of bibliographical analysis, each patiently and clearly explained, with accompanying illustrations. The book could serve as an excellent introduction to this kind of work; but even more remarkably, it demonstrates how interconnected are the physical object and its intellectual content. The title sentence, “Galileo makes a book,” has a double meaning: not only did Galileo write the text, but he also attended to its physical production, making the presentation of the text integral to its meaning. Needham does not neglect Galileo’s writing itself: he calls Galileo “an artist with words,” whose “prose embodies not just close reasoning, but also life and emotion.”

"This assessment applies equally to Needham’s own writing, which combines rigorous but readable technical analysis with an awareness of the human side of that work and the story it reveals. This combination recalls an earlier bibliographical classic, Allan Stevenson’s The Problem of the Missale Speciale (1967), another full-length treatment of a single book. Even the sense of humor displayed by Stevenson has its counterpart here: when, for example, Needham explains two hypotheses as to when the printing of Galileo’s book began, he calls the one that postulates a later date “the dilatory view.” At the end Needham praises the many nameless actors, such as papermakers and printing-shop workers, who played roles in the story; and he closes with “the mules and oxen whose humble labor moved sheets of Sidereus Nuncius across the face of Europe, under the eyes of the boundless sky.” This passage, occurring in a work of bibliographical analysis, epitomizes the work’s unusual accomplishment: it breaks new ground in the study of a major book, sets forth its discoveries in an engaging narrative, and in the process shows how bibliography can be essential to intellectual history."

Until early 2012 Richard Lan was privately offering the copy for sale for $10,000,000. Then Nick Wilding, an historian of science at Georgia State University who had been asked to review the 2-volume set mentioned above, presented concrete proof that the Martayan-Lan copy was a forgery:

  • The book bears a library stamp by the founder of the Accademia dei Lincei Federico Cesi. But the stamp in the Martayan Lan copy doesn’t match those in other books with Cesi's stamp.
  • The title page was different from genuine copies, but bore similarities to a 1964 facsimile and an unsold Sotheby’s auction copy.
  • There was no record of the Siderus Nuncius in the original library from which this copy was thought to come.

Slowly the thread of fabrication began to unravel. Discovery of the forgery coincided with the exposure of massive thefts of rare books from the Girolomini Library in Naples, for which Marino Massimo De Caro, and others were eventually convicted. In 2013 the Library of Congress and Levenger Press issued Galileo Galilei, The Starry Messenger, Venice, 1610. From Doubt to Astonishment. This volume contained a facsimile edition of the Library of Congress copy, an English translation, and the text of the papers delivered at the November 2010 symposium. However, as the editor of the volume noted, Paul Needham revised his paper (now retitled "Authenticity and Facsimile: Gaileo's Paper Trail") in light of his later acceptance that the Martayan Lan copy was a forgery. On December 16, 2013 The New Yorker magazine published a detailed background article on the forgery and how it was accomplished, by Nicholas Schmidel: "A Very Rare Book. The mystery surrounding a copy of Gaileo's pivotal treatise." While the article filled in many blanks concerning the Sidereus Nuncius forgery, it raised other questions concerning other unknown thefts and forgeries by Marino Massimo de Caro and his associates.

In February 2014 De Gruyter issued an originally unintended volume three of their 2011 two-volume set entitled A Galileo Forgery. Unmasking the New York Sidereus Nuncius, edited by Horst Bredekamp, Irëne Bruckel, and Paul Needham. When I last revised this entry in August 2014 the full text of the volume was available as an Open Access PDF at no charge. This was the most comprehensive account and proof of the forgery. In many ways it was the most remarkable and admirable volume of the set, in which the scholars, recounted how the forgery was discovered, drew their final conclusions proving the forgery, and explained how they had been deceived in the first place.

Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 855.

(This entry was last revised on 04-04-2015.)

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Cassiano & Carlo Antonio dal Pozzo Attempt to Record All Human Knowledge in Visual Form Circa 1625 – 1665

The "Museo Cartaceo" ("Paper Museum"), a collection of more than 7,000 watercolors, drawings and prints assembled by the Roman patron and collector Cassiano dal Pozzo and his youngest brother Carlo Antonio from 1625 to 1665, represents one of the most significant attempts made before the age of photography to embrace the widest range of human knowledge in visual form. Documenting ancient art and architecture, botany, geology, ornithology and zoology, the collection is a significant tool for understanding the cultural and intellectual concerns of a period during which the foundations of our own scientific methods were laid down.

"The Paper Museum reflects the taste and intellectual breadth of Cassiano dal Pozzo, one of the most learned and enthusiastic of all seventeenth-century Roman collectors. As secretary to Cardinal Francesco Barberini, patron of artists such as Poussin, and a friend of Galileo, Cassiano crossed the boundaries of artistic, scientific and political disciplines to create his unique visual encyclopaedia. His patronage extended to both the well-known and the lesser-known artists of his day, and his close connections with leading European scientists, scholars and philosophers kept him informed of the latest archaeological and scientific discoveries. His younger brother Carlo Antonio came to share his interests and played a significant role in augmenting and arranging the collection.

"Through his association with Federico Cesi, Prince of Acquasparta (1585–1630), and his membership of the Accademia dei Lincei (the first modern scientific society, founded by Cesi), Cassiano assembled visual evidence of scientifically – and for the first time microscopically – observed natural phenomena, thus establishing a firm basis for scientific classification. Fruit, flora, fungi, fauna, minerals and fossils – all were meticulously recorded, whether commonplace or exotic. He applied the same rigour and systematic methodology to his antiquarian studies: classical and early medieval monuments and artefacts were painstakingly drawn and classified to form a unique survey of ancient architecture, religion, custom, dress and spectacle" (http://warburg.sas.ac.uk/pozzo/prospectus.pdf, accessed 0-03-2010).

The "Paper Museum" was sold by Cassiano’s heirs to the Albani Pope Clement XI , who resold it to his connoisseur nephew Cardinal Alessandro Albani in the early eighteenth century. It remained in the Albani collection until a substantial portion was acquired by George III, also a scientific amateur, in 1762 for his library at Buckingham House. In 1834, the collection was transferred to the Royal Library created by William IV at Windsor Castle, where it forms part of the Royal Collection. Other portions are at the British Library, the British Museum, the botanical gardens at Kew (mycological specimens) , the library of Sir John Soane's Museum. Portions not purchased for George III are preserved at the Institut de France and various other public and private collections. 

Since the 1990s a project has been underway to publish the drawings and prints in the ‘Museo Cartaceo’ in a series of thirty-six volumes, arranged by subject matter following the method of classification employed by Cassiano himself. The series is entitled The Paper Museum of Cassiano dal Pozzo ~ A Catalogue Raisonné.

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Gasparo Aselli's Book Includes the First Color-Printed Medical Illustrations 1627

Detail from plate from of De lactibus sive lacteis venis.  Click to see and resize image of entire page.

Detail from title page of De lactibus sive lacteis venis.  Click to see and resize image of entire page.

Image of Gaspara Aselli (engraved by Cesare Bassano).

Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc.

In 1627 De lactibus sive lacteis venis by the Italian physician and anatomist Gasparo (Gaspare) Aselli was posthumously published in Milan at the press of Giambattista Bidelli through the efforts of Nicolas Fabry de Peiresc. The work contained a beautiful engraved title page and a portrait of Aselli by the Milanese painter and engraver Cesare Bassano. The four folding chiaroscuro woodcuts in this work printed in black, red and two shades of brown were the first color-printed illustrations in a medical or anatomical work. They are unsigned and authorship of these has not been established.

While performing vivisection on a dog that had recently fed, Aselli noticed a network of vessels in the mesentery and along the peritoneal surface of the intestine. The vessels released a whitish fluid similar to milk when incised, so Aselli called them lacteas, sive albas venas. He made a systematic study of these vessels in different species of animals, noting the chronological relationship between their engorgement and the animal's last meal, and erroneously conjectured that the vessels led to the liver; it was not until Jean Pecquet's discovery of the thoracic duct and its continuity with the lacteal vessels that the process of absorption was clearly established.  

Norman, Morton's Medical Bibliography 5th ed (1991) No. 1094. Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) No. 76. Choulant, History and Bibliography of Anatomic Illustration (1920) 240-241

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"Je pense, donc je suis." 1637

In 1637 French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist René Descartes issued his Discours de la méthode pour bien conduire sa raison, & chercher la verité‚ dans les sciences. As Descartes spent much of his life in the Dutch Republic, he had the work published in Leiden.

Descartes's Discours presented an outline of Cartesian scientific method, summed up in the famous Four Rules presented in Book 2, together with scientific treatises intended to illustrate the method's range. The four rules may be stated as :

 1. "The first was never to accept anything for true which I did not clearly know to be such; that is to say, carefully to avoid precipitancy and prejudice, and to comprise nothing more in my judgment than what was presented to my mind so clearly and distinctly as to exclude all ground of doubt.

2. "The second, to divide each of the difficulties under examination into as many parts as possible, and as might be necessary for its adequate solution.

3. "The third, to conduct my thoughts in such order that, by commencing with objects the simplest and easiest to know, I might ascend by little and little, and, as it were, step by step, to the knowledge of the more complex; assigning in thought a certain order even to those objects which in their own nature do not stand in a relation of antecedence and sequence.

4.  "And the last, in every case to make enumerations so complete, and reviews so general, that I might be assured that nothing was omitted.

"The enumerations have in time developed into many forms. He suggested drawing boxes on a paper, and connecting them. This idea has led to a multitude of graphic thinking aids that we use today" (Wikipedia article on Discourse on the Method, accessed 03-03-2009).

The work includes three scientific treatises: Dioptrique, containing Descartes's derivation of the law of refraction; Météores; and Géométrie. The work included his invention of the Cartesian coordinate system and the foundation of analytic geometry, the bridge between algebra and geometry, crucial to the invention of calculus and analysis. Though Descartes' most  famous statement is best known by its Latin translation, it was first published in the Discours as "Je pense, donc je suis," and later translated into Latin in his Principia philosophiae as "Cogito, ergo sum."

Carter & Muir, Printing and the Mind of Man (1967) no. 129. Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 621.

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Michael Florent van Langren issues the Earliest Known Graph of Statistical Data 1644

In 1644 Dutch astronomer and cartographer Michael Florent van Langren (Langrenus, Miguel Florencio, Michale Florent) published La Verdadera Longitud por Mar y Tierra in Antwerp as a pamphlet. To show the magnitude of the problem of determining longitude, van Langren created the first known graph of statistical data, showing the wide range of estimates of the distance in longitude between Toledo and Rome.

Friendly, Valero-Mora, and Ibáñez Ulargui, "The First (Known Statistical Graph: Michael Florent van Langren and the 'Secret' of Longitude," 2010. http://www.datavis.ca/papers/langren-TAS09154.pdf, accessed 01-108-2013.

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1650 – 1700

David Teniers the Younger Publishes the First Published Illustrated Catalogue of an Art Collection 1660

In 1660 David Teniers the Younger, court painter in Archduke Leopold William's court in Brussels, issued the Theatrum Pictorium, a catalogue of 243 Italian paintings belonging to his patron, Hapsburg Archduke Leopold Wilhelm, cousin of King Philip IV of Spain, and Governor of the Southern Netherlands (comprising most of modern Belgium).  Containing the engraved reproductions of 243 paintings, this was the first published illustrated catalogue of an art collection. Remarkably Teniers had the first edition printed in Dutch, French, Spanish and Latin, and the work later went through five more editions: 1673 (4 languages), 1684 (Latin), c. 1700 (Latin) and 1755 (French). 

During the single decade of his governorship (1646-56) Leopold Wilhelm formed one of the greatest art collections of his age, and Teniers effectively became its curator. Leopold Wilhelm’s collection came to number approximately 1,300 works, including paintings by Holbein, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Van Eyck, Raphael, Giorgione, Veronese and more than 15 works by Titian. This collection now forms the heart of Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum.

van Claerbergen (ed) David Teniers and the Theatre of Painting (2006).

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Robert Hooke's Graphic Portrayal of the Hitherto Unknown Microcosm 1665

In 1665 Robert Hooke published Micrographia: Or Some Physiological Descriptions of Minute Bodies Made by Magnifying Glasses in London. This was the first book devoted entirely to microscopical observations, and also the first book to pair its microscopic descriptions with profuse and detailed illustrations. This graphic portrayal of the hitherto unknown microcosm had an impact rivalling that of Galileo's Sidereus nuncius (1610), which was the first book to include images of the macrocosm shown through the telescope. It was also the second book published under the auspices of the Royal Society of London.

Hooke began his observations with studies of non-living materials, such as woven cloth and frozen urine crystals, then proceeded to investigations of plant and animal life.  He published the first studies of insect anatomy, giving a lucid account of the compound eye of the fly, and illustrating the microscopic details of such structures as apian wings, flies' legs and feet, and the sting of the bee.  His famous and dramatic portraits of the flea and louse, a frightening eighteen inches long, are hardly less startling today than they must have been to Hooke's contemporaries.  His botanical observations include the first description of the plant-like form of molds, and of the honeycomb-like structure of cork, which last he described as being composed of "cellulae"— thereby coining the modern biological usage of the work "cell" to describe the basic microscopic units of tissue.

In January 2014 a digital facsimile of the first edition of Hooke's Micrographia was available from the National Library of Medicine's website at this link.

Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 1092.

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The First Hieroglyphic Bible for Children 1684 – 1692

Melchior Mattsperger compiled Die Geistliche Herzens-Einbildungen in zweihundert und fünffzig biblischen Figur-Sprüchen vorgestellet. This work, first published in 2 volumes in Augsburg, Germany in 1684 and 1692, was the first hieroglyphic bible, combining brief complete biblical passages and a combination of text and images to represent words or parts of words, in rebus form. 

The first English language edition of this work, A Curious Hieroglyphick Bible, was printed in London in 1783. The first American edition followed in 1788. Introducing children to brief biblical passages with an intriguing combination of text and image, numerous editions with a variety of biblical selections and illustrations were issued through the first half of the nineteenth century.

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Anatomy in the Style of Dutch Still-Life Painting 1685

Plate from Bidloo's Anatomia humani corporis. Please click on the link below to view and resize full page. 

Title page of Bidloo's Anatomia humani corporis. 
Please click on the link below to view and resize full page. 

Govert Bidloo.

Gerard de Lairesse (1641–1711) by Rembrandt.  Lariesse suffered from congenital syphilis.

In 1685 Dutch physician, anatomist, poet, and playwright Govert Bidloo published Anatomia humani corporis. This large folio contains an engraved title, engraved portrait of Bidloo by Abraham Bloteling after Gérard de Lairesse and 105 engraved plates after Lairesse, probably by Bloteling and Peter and Philip van Gunst. The work was issued in  Amsterdam for the widow of Joannes van Someren, the heirs of Joannes van Dyk, Henry Boom and widow of Theodore Boom.

Considered as an artistic meditation on anatomy, Gerard de Lairesse’s designs are a total departure from the idealistic tradition inaugurated in the mid-16th century by the Vesalian woodcuts. They are also worlds apart from the productions of the Odoardo Fialetti - Giulio Casserio collaboration. Lairesse displayed his figures with everyday realism and sensuality, contrasting the raw dissected parts of the body with the full, soft surfaces of undissected flesh surrounding them; placing flayed, bound figures in ordinary nightclothes or bedding; setting objects such as a book, a jar, a crawling fly in the same space as a dissected limb or torso. He thus brought the qualities of Dutch still-life painting into anatomical illustration, and gave a new, darker expression to the significance of dissection. De Lairesse’s images of dissected pregnancies and premature infants also reflect compassion—a quality unusual in art that was intended primarily to be scientific.

A painter and writer on art theory, Lairesse was influenced by Rembrandt, who painted his portrait in 1665, and also by the French styles of Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorrain. The French called Lairesse the “Dutch Poussin.” Lairesse suffered from congenital syphilis, which gave him a deformed nose visible in Rembrandt’s portrait. Perhaps because he had always lived with disease Lairesse had more than a casual interest in medicine. Syphilis made him blind in 1690, and for the rest of his active life Lairesse supported himself by lecturing and writing about art, publishing two books on drawing and painting which were widely reprinted and translated throughout the eighteenth century.

Some of Lairesse’s drawings were probably engraved by Abraham Bloteling (Blooteling). A line engraver and creator of mezzotint plates who worked in both Holland and England, Bloteling was particularly famous for the quality of his mezzotints, for which he initiated a more thorough system of preparing the grounds, and may have invented the rocker. According to historian of medical book illustration Ludwig Choulant, prior medical scholars Albrecht Haller and Johann Carl Wilhelm Moehsen believed that some plates in the series were engraved by the brothers Pieter and Philip van Gunst. Despite imperfections from the point of view of dissection, which Choulant and others have pointed out, the Bidloo-de Lairesse anatomical studies reflect much that is good, including early depictions of skin and hair from observation with a microscope.

Bidloo began this project with de Lairesse around 1676 during a period in which he was also writing plays in Amsterdam, obtaining his medical degree, and working as a surgeon. It would appear that Bidloo brought his flair for drama to the conception and realization of this project. The 105 large drawings were probably completed about 1682, after which the plates had to be engraved—a huge production.

In 1690 Bidloo's publishers issued an edition in Dutch, and in 1698 William Cowper issued an expanded English with new text using Bidloo's original plates, but without crediting Bidloo, resulting in a famous plagiarism dispute in the era before copyright.

Choulant, History and Bibliography of Anatomic Illustration (1920) 250. Dumaître, La Curieuse Destiné des Planches Anatomiques de Gérard de Lairesse (1982). Hofer, Baroque Book Illustration, 146. Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) No. 231. Roberts & Tomlinson, The Fabric of the Body, 309-17. Wax, The Mezzotint: History and Technique (1990) 25-26.

♦ In 2012 it was my pleasure to sell a spectacular large paper copy of Bidloo's atlas, bound in contemporary full red morocco, and emblazened with the coat of arms of its first owner, to Vassar College as their 1,000,000th book. Vassar produced a spectacular website describing the copy, with background, images and a video. The excellent video, which beautifully described this wonderful copy, is here:

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Baroque Anatomy and Plagiarism (?) 1698

English surgeon and anatomist William Cowper published The Anatomy of Humane Bodies. . . . in 1698. This large folio volume included a mezzotint portrait of Cowper by Smith after Closterman, an allegorical engraved title attributed to Abraham Bloteling with pasted-on English title in cartouche, a second engraved title with vignette by Sturt, and 114 plates, of which 105 were designed by Gérard de Lairesse and probably engraved by Bloteling, and 9 plates mostly drawn and engraved by Michael van der Gucht. The volume was printed in Oxford at the Sheldonian Theatre and issued in London by Samuel Smith & Benjamin Walford.  From the format standpoint it is one of the largest volumes published in England during the seventeenth century.

Cowper's atlas was the first edition in English of the original anatomical plates designed for Govert Bidloo by Gérard de Lairesse, a painter who rivaled Rembrandt in popularity in his time. The plates were originally issued with Bidloo's Latin text and published in 1685. There was also an edition in Dutch in 1690. Bidloo’s text, however, was widely criticized, and perhaps because of this, or because sales were disappointing, Cowper, or his publisher, was able to obtain 300 sets of Bidloo's original plates from the publishers in Amsterdam. Cowper arranged to supply an entirely new text in English to accompany the reissue of the original engravings, with a few additions. Cowper also commissioned nine new plates. Cowper's new English text was clearly superior, and the basis for later Latin editions. However, Cowper did not acknowledge Bidloo, even going so far as to paste over Bidloo’s name with his own in the cartouche on the engraved allegorical title.

At this time neither copyright nor rights of authorship existed. The first copyright law passed was the British Statute of Anne in 1709. Without legal recourse, Bidloo chose to attack Cowper in print, resulting in a bitter plagiarism dispute between the two— one of the most famous in medical history. In 1700 Bidloo went so far as to publish his Gulielmus Cowper, criminalis literari citatus, coram tribunali, attacking Cowper in considerable detail. 

Russell, British Anatomy, no. 211.

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1700 – 1750

Albinus & Ladmiral Issue the First Full Color Printing by the Three-Color Process to Illustrate a Medical or Scientific Book 1736 – 1741

In 1736 physician and anatomist Bernhard Siegfried Albinus of Leiden published Dissertatio de arteries et venis intestinorum hominis. Adjecta icon coloribus distincta containing a color mezzotint printed by the painter Jan Ladmiral. This was among the earliest applications of full color printing, and the first use of the three-color printing  process in a medical or scientific book. Between 1736 and 1741 Albinus issued six pamphlets, each containing a color mezzotint by Ladmiral, forming the first series of full-color anatomical color-printed illustrations ever made.  Besides the previously mentioned pamphlet of 1736, the dissertations included De sede et causa coloris Aethiopum et caeterorum hominum (1737), a treatise on the anatomy and color of human skin; Icon durae matris in coava superficie visae (1738), on the anatomy of the brain; Icon durae matris in convexa superfice visae, ex capite (1738); Icon membranae vasculosae (1738), on the vascular membranes; and Effigies penis humani (1741), on the anatomy of the penis. These six images are  the only color prints produced by Jan Ladmiral, who had learned the process of color printing from the artist Jacob Christoph le Blon, the inventor of the process for printing color mezzotints using the three primary colors.  

♦ Probably the most unusual set of Albinus's pamphlets with color plates by Ladmiral is the collection bound in human skin in 1910 by Paul Kersten for the German collector Hans Friedenthal, and preserved at the Lane Medical Library at Stanford University.

The first medical book with illustrations printed in color by any method was Aselli's De lactibus (1627) which contained 4 folding woodcuts printed by the chiaroscuro process.

Choulant, History and Bibliography of Anatomic Illustration (1920) 265-66 for Le Blon, and 267-69 for Ladmiral.

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Bernhard Siegfried Albinus' Cool, Elegant Aesthetic of Anatomy 1747

In 1747 Dutch physician and anatomist Bernhard Siegfried Albinus published Tabulae sceleti et musculorum corporis humani in Leiden at the printing office of Johan & Hermann Verbeek. The plates in this large folio work are unsurpassed for their cool, elegant aesthetic and scientific accuracy. They were drawn and engraved by Jan Wandelaar, a pupil of the engravers Jacob Fokema and Guillem van der Gouwen, and the painter Gérard de Lairesse, who prepared the drawings for Govert Bidloo's atlas (referenced in this database). Prior to working for Albinus, Wandelaar worked for anatomist Friedrik Ruysch. Albinus, however, provided Wandelaar with the opportunity for the full expression of his talents as a draftsman and engraver. For many years Wandelaar worked nearly exclusively for Albinus, and lived in Albinus' house, illustrating the long series of superb books which Albinus produced. Choulant states that when Wandelaar died Albinus fell into a severe depression, from which he only gradually recovered. The Tables of the Skeleton and Muscles of the Human Body represents the apogee of an exceptional collaboration between physician and artist which lasted from 1721 until the artist's death in 1754, and resulted in a series of unsurpassed publications.

Roberts and Tomlinson described the innovative method that Wandelaar and Albinus devised for the transfer of the most accurate and proportional images of the anatomy to the drawings, using two nets, or grids, of small cords. The first plates are finished representations of the skeleton and are each accompanied by an outline-plate of the same size. The following 9 plates represent complete finished musclemen, each with an additional outline plate. The 14 plates following these represent special muscles and parts of muscles. Each of the very numerous figures on these last 14 plates is supplied with an outline-drawing unless the letters are engraved directly upon the finished figures. There are a total of 40 plates.

The 3 finished plates of the skeleton and the 9 finished muscle men are some of the most beautiful plates in the history of engraving. Wandelaer placed each figure in a carefully chosen landscape setting, and the artistic results are so pleasantly successful that the anatomical figures, although composed of many separate parts, appear to be actually stepping out of the picture.

Choulant, History and Bibliography of Anatomic Illustration (1920) 276-83. Roberts & Tomlinson, The Fabric of the Human Body (1992) 320-339. J. Norman (ed) Morton's Medical Bibliography (1991) No. 399. Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) No. 29. Sappol, Dream Anatomy (2006) 118-19.

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1750 – 1800

The First American Political Cartoon: "JOIN, or DIE." May 9, 1754

In the May 9, 1754 issue of his newspaper, The Pennsylvania Gazette, printer, publisher, writer, scientist and inventor Benjamin Franklin published a political cartoon by Franklin showing eight American colonies as separated parts of a coiled snake with the caption, "JOIN, or DIE."

Franklin labeled eight separate sections of the snake with abbreviations for New York, New England, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Vermont, North Carolina and South Carolina.

"There was, at the time, a long-held superstition (with roots in the legend of Osiris) that held that a snake cut to pieces would come back to life if the pieces were put together before sunset. Separate, they are inert and impotent. United, they are active, and powerful. Delaware and Georgia were omitted, for reasons that remain unclear" (http://www.booktryst.com/2011/08/first-and-most-important-american.html, accessed 08-17-2011).

Franklin's accompanying text rallied the American colonies to unite and defend against the French in the French and Indian War. This was the first time that the colonies were asked to act as one.

James Parker republished Franklin's cartoon in the single September 21, 1765 issue of the Constitutional Courant attacking the Stamp Act. calling for the unification of the colonies in their struggle for justice from Great Britain. In 1774 Paul Revere altered the cartoon to fit the masthead of the Massachusetts Spy, and the cartoon became a symbol of colonial freedom during the American Revolutionary War.  Suitably redrawn, it returned to service for both the Union and the Confederacy in the American Civil War.

The original May 9, 1754 issue of the Pennsylvania Gazette is one of the rarest of early Americana, with the copy at the Library of Congress the only copy recorded in institutions.  

On September 12-14, 2011 a copy will be sold at Heritage Auctions in Beverly Hills. It carries an estimate of $100,000-$200,000.

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Pierre-Simon Fournier Issues an Influential Manual of Types and Typefounding 1764 – 1766

In 1764 printer and typefounder Pierre-Simon Fournier le Jeune issued from Paris his Manuel typographique, utile aux gens de lettres, et à ceux qui exercent les différents parties de l'Art de l'Imprimerie in 2 volumes. The first volume concerned typefounding and contained 16 plates showing equipment and instruments used by the typefounder. The second volume was a survey of European typefoundries, mainly of value today for its wide-ranging collection of type specimens from different foundries. Fournier planned a third volume on printing techniques, and a fourth volume on the lives of typographers.  His death in 1768 prevented publication of those volumes. 

In 1930 English typographer and historian of printing Harry Carter published an annotated English translation in an edition of 260 copies at the Curwen Press: Fournier on Typefounding. The Text of the Manuel typographique (1764-66) translated into English and Edited with Notes by Harry Carter. This was reprinted by offset as a trade edition, with a new foreword and a supplementary bibliography by Carter, in 1973.

Barber, French Letterpress Printing (1969) 10.

(This entry was last revised on 06-15-2014.)

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Joseph Priestley Issues the First Biographical Timeline Chart 1765

British theologian, dissenting clergyman, natural philosopher, educator, and political theorist Joseph Priestley published A Chart of Biography in London with text entitled A Description of a Chart of Biography in 1765. Priestley's work was the first biographical timeline chart, in which individual bars were used to visualize the life span of a person, allowing the comparison of the lifespans of many people.

"The Chart of Biography covers a vast timespan, from 1200 BC to 1800 AD, and includes two thousand names. Priestley organized his list into six categories: Statesman and Warriors; Divines and Metaphysicians; Mathematicians and Physicians (natural philosophers were placed here); Poets and Artists; Orators and Critics (prose fiction authors were placed here); and Historians and Antiquarians (lawyers were placed here). Priestley's 'principle of selection' was fame, not merit; therefore, as he mentions, the chart is a reflection of current opinion. He also wanted to ensure that his readers would recognize the entires on the chart. Priestley had difficulty assigning all of the people listed to individual categories; he attempted to list them in the category under which their most important work had been done. Machiavelli is therefore listed as a historian rather than a statesman and Cicero is listed as a statesman instead of an orator. The chart was also arranged in order of importance; 'statesmen are placed on the lower margin, where they are easier to see, because they are the names most familiar to readers' " (Wikipedia article on A Chart of Biography, accessed 03-16-2010).

Rosenberg & Grafton, Cartographies of Time (2010) 116-17, plate 19.

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Joseph Priestley Issues the Most Influential Historical Timeline of the Eighteenth Century 1769 – 1770

In 1769 and 1770 British theologian, dissenting clergyman, natural philosopher, educator, and political theorist Joseph Priestley published A New Chart of History with A Description of a New Chart of History.

"Together with his Chart of Biography (1765), which he dedicated to his friend Benjamin Franklin, Priestley believed these charts would allow students to 'trace out distinctly the dependence of events to distribute them into such periods and divisions as shall lay the whole claim of past transactions in a just and orderly manner.'

"The Chart of History lists events in 106 separate locations; it illustrates Priestley's belief that the entire world's history was significant, a relatively new development in the 18th century, which had begun with Voltaire and William Robertson. The world's history is divided up into the following geographical categories: Scandinavia, Poland, Russia, Great Britain, Spain, France, Italy, Turkey in Europe, Turkey in Asia, Germany, Persia, India, China, Africa and America. Priestley aimed to show the history of empires and the passing of power; the subtitle of the Description that accompanied the chart was 'A View of the Principal Revolutions of Empire that have taken place in the World' and he wrote that:

"The capital use [of the Charts was as] a most excellent mechanical help to the knowledge of history, impressing the imagination indelibly with a just image of the rise, progress, extent, duration, and contemporary state of all the considerable empires that have ever existed in the world.

" As Arthur Sheps in his article about the Charts explains, 'the horizontal line conveys an idea of the duration of fame, influence, power and domination. A vertical reading conveys an impression of the contemporaneity of ideas, events and people. The number or density of entries . . . tells us about the vitality of any age.' Voids in the chart indicated intellectual Dark Ages, for example" (Wikipedia article on A New Chart of History, accessed 07-10-2011).

Rosenberg & Grafton, Cartographies of Time (2010) 116-17, plate 20.

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Graphic Representation of the Organization of the Encyclopédie 1769

In 2012 I acquired a remarkable folding engraving, which it would appear, was extracted from one of the later volumes of the Diderot et d'Alembert Encyclopédie ou dictionnaire des sciences. This extremely large and intricately engraved tree of knowledge created in 1769 by Chrétien Fréderic Guillaume Roth of Weimar, and engraved by Benard, was entitled Essai d'une Distribution généologique des Sciences et des Arts principaux. Selon l'Explication détaillée du Systême des Connissances Humaines dans le Discours préliminaire des Editeurs de l'Encyclopédie publiée par M. Diderot et M. d'Alembert à Paris en 1751. Reduit en cette forme pour découvrir la Connoisance Humaine d'un coup d'oeil.

Remarkably Roth's tree of knowledge appears to have been engraved and printed from one very large copperplate.  The thick, folded sheet on which my copy was printed measures 925 x 622 mm. with the engraved surface measuring 900 x 597 mm.

When I wrote this entry in May 2013 I was unable to find any information concerning Chrétien Roth except for the general awareness that he created this graphic representation of the organization of knowledge.

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Jean-Étienne Guettard Issues the First National Geological Atlas 1780

In 1780 French mineralogist and naturalist Jean-Étienne Guettard and Antoine Monnet, France's first Inspector-general of mines, published Atlas et description minéralogiques de la France in Paris at the Office of Dupain-Triel, Royal Geographical Engineer.

In 1766 Henri Bertin, Minister and Secretary of State in charge of mining, commissioned a geological survey of France from mineralogist Jean Etienne Guettard, one of the first geological cartographers, and Guettard's protegée, the young Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier (Antoine Lavoisier). Guettard and Lavoiser had begun collecting field notes for the project as early as 1763, and in 1767 they embarked on a geological tour of Alsace, Lorraine and Franche-Comt. During this tour both Guettard and Lavoisier maintained diaries of their geological observations. That kept by Lavoisier is preserved in the Duveen Lavoisier collection at Cornell University; that kept by Guettard was formerly in the Haskell F. Norman Library, dispersed at Christie's. 

When Lavoisier returned to Paris he assumed most of the responsibility for supervising the production of the geological maps, which were engraved by the Sieur de Dupain-Triel, Royal Geographical Engineer. By 1770, he and Guettard had overseen the completion of sixteen plates, and by 1777 they had partially completed an almost equal number. According to Lavoisier's own statement, all plates dated 1766 and 1767 were prepared with his assistance.

The atlas was to have contained 230 maps in all, but this total was never reached, as political and financial difficulties intervened. In 1777, to the displeasure of both Lavoisier and Guettard, Antoine Monnet, France's first Inspector-general of mines, was appointed to direct the geological survey. In 1780 thirty-one maps, together with a long text written by Monnet, were published under the joint authorship of Guettard and Monnet. The Atlas's maps included six by Guettard and Lavoisier, fifteen begun by Guettard and Lavoisier and finished by Monnet, and ten prepared entirely by Monnet. Monnet issued a second edition of the Atlas some time after 1794, under the title Collection complète de toutes les parties de l'Atlas minéralogique de la France. This second edition had forty-five maps, fourteen more than the 1780 Atlas; of the new maps, ten were by Guettard and Lavoisier, one was prepared by Guettard and Lavoisier and revised by Monnet, and three were prepared by Monnet alone.

Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 1287; Guettard diary, no. 953. Duveen & Klickstein, Bibliography of the Works of Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier (1954) 218; Supplement pp. 129-132. The authors state that all the maps produced for the atlas could be purchased individually, colored or uncolored, at the office of Dupain-Triel.

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Charles de Fourcroy Publishes Early Graphic Representation of Statistics 1782

In 1782 French mathematician and director of fortifications Charles Louis de Fourcroy published Essai d'une table poléométrique, ou amusement d'un amateur de plans sur les grandeurs de quelques villes in Paris at the press of Dupain-Triel père. Fourcroy's Tableau poléométrique published in this work was

"one of the oldest proportional representations of human phenomena."

"Each city is reperesented by a square whose area is proportional to the geographic area occupied by the city (and for the smallest cities, by a half square only, divided by the diagonal line.

"When superimposed, the squares are classed automatically. This results in visual groupings, which lead the author to propose an 'urban classification' "(Bertin, Semiology of Graphics [2011] 202-03, with reproduction).

Fourcroy's 45-page work pioneered the use of graphs in cross-sectional and mathematical analysis. In January 2013 a color reproduction of his graph was available at this link.

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William Playfair Founds Statistical Graphics, and Invents the Line Chart and Bar Chart 1785 – 1786

In 1785 Scottish engineer and political economist William Playfair issued in London a privately circulated preliminary edition of his The Commercial and Political Atlas; Representing, by Means of Stained Copper-Plate Charts, the Exports, Imports, and General Trade of England, at a Single View. 

The next year Playfair formally published the work in London with an even longer title as The Commercial and Political Atlas; Representing, by Means of Stained Copper-Plate Charts, the Exports, Imports, and General Trade of England, at a Single View. To which are Added, Charts of the Revenue and Debts of Ireland, Done in the Same Manner by James Correy.  For this work Playfair invented the line chart or line graph or times series plots, present in the book in 43 variants, and the bar chart or bar graph, represented by a single example. The first 10 plates were engraved by Scottish engraver and cartographer John Ainslie in 1785 for the preliminary edition; the remainder were engraved by Samuel John Neele. It is thought that Playfair, often short of funds, may have hand-colored the charts himself—the coloring process that he curiously designated as "staining" in the titles.

As one inspiration for his information graphics concerning economics and finance, Playfair cited Priestley's timelines as published in his New Chart of History.

"Over the course of the next half century, Plafair's line graph, which counterposed two quantitative axes, (one for time, the other for economic measures such as exports, importants and debts) became on of the most recognizable chronographic forms" (Rosenberg & Grafton, Cartographies of Time [2010] 136).

"Playfair had a variety of careers. He was in turn a millwright, engineer, draftsman, accountant, inventor, silversmith, merchant, investment broker, economist, statistician, pamphleteer, translator, publicist, land speculator, convict, banker, ardent royalist, editor, blackmailer and journalist. On leaving Watt's company in 1782, he set up a silversmithing business and shop in London, which failed. In 1787 he moved to Paris, taking part in the storming of the Bastille two years later. He returned to London in 1793, where he opened a "security bank", which also failed. From 1775 he worked as a writer and pamphleteer and did some engineering work" (Wikipedia article on William Playfair, accessed 03-16-2010).

In 2005 the third edition (1801) of Playfair's atlas with the first edition (1801) of the breviary were reproduced in color as Playfair, The Commercial and Political Atlas and Statistical Breviary, Edited and Introduced by Howard Wainer and Ian Spence. 

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1800 – 1850

William Playfair Invents the Pie Chart 1801

In 1801 Scottish engineer and political economist William Playfair published in London The Statistical Breviary; Shewing, on a Principle Entirely New, the Resources of Every State and Kingdom in Europe; Illustrated with Stained Copper-Plate Charts, Representing the Physical Powers of Each Distinct Nation with Ease and Perspicuity. To which is added, a Similar Exhibition of the Ruling Powers of Hindoostan. In this work Playfair invented the pie chart. It has also been suggested that Playfair, often short of funds, may have colored the charts in all the copies himself—the process he characterized as "staining" in the title.

Playfair, The Commercial and Political Atlas and Statistical 
, Edited and Introduced by Howard Wainer and Ian Spence (2005). This edition reproduces in color the third edition of the atlas (1801) and the first edition of the breviary (1801).

(This entry was last revised on 02-04-2015.)

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John Thomas Smith Publishes the First Steel-Engraved and the First Lithographed Book Illustrations June 9, 1807

On June 9, 1807 English painter, engraver, antiquarian and sometime Keeper of Prints at the British Museum John Thomas Smith issued Antiquities of Westminster. . . . in London. According to its title page the work contained two hundred forty-six engravings of topographical subjects, of which one hundred and twenty-two were no longer in existence when the book was published. These engravings were published on 38 plates, nearly all either drawn or engraved by Smith, of which two were tinted and twelve were hand-colored (two heightened with gold). As a supplement to this work Smith issued Sixty-Two Additional Plates to Smith's Antiquitie's of Westminster, advertising the price of these as six guineas on its engraved and hand-colored title page. These plates were mostly either drawn or engraved by Smith.   

In his Antiquities of Westminster Smith experimented with various print media, including etching, engraving, mezzotinting, aquatint, and lithography. For his plate of the Ceiling of the Star Chamber facing p. 29. Smith used an old steel saw blade in its unsoftened state as a medium. He broke a number of burins in the process, and it took him two months to complete the plate instead of the two days it would have taken to engrave the plate on copper. Because of the difficulty with this print Smith did not return to steel engraving. The image was, however, the first steel engraved book illustration.

Smith's plate "Internal view of the painted chamber" facing p. 48,

"a rather weak pen drawing in the style of an etching, is the first known instance of a lithograph being used to illustrate a book. The original intention was to illustrate the whole edition with one plate only produced by lithography; but the process was obviously not quite so easy as it seemed, as after 300 prints had been taken the stone was ruined and it was decided to revert to etching on copper for the remaining copies. The first 300 copies of the edition have both the lithographed and etched versions as Smith decided to use his failure as an opportunity to describe the process" (Twyman, Lithography 1800-1850 [1970] 30). 

"The exact date of Smith's drawing on stone is not known, but he describes in the text (p. 49) how he was supplied with materials by André, and if this was so then the drawing must almost certainly have been made prior to André's departure in 1805. It must in any case have been completed and spoilt by 19 November 1806 since this is the date borne by the copper-engraving that replaced it for the rest of the edition. The print of the plate may therefore ahve been done by either André or Vollweiler (Twyman, op. cit., footnote 1, p. 30).

Smith's book arose from the chance discovery by workmen of a section of 14th century wall at Westminster, complete with its original wall paintings, sculpture and stained glass. Smith quickly secured permission to record what had been revealed before it was demolished and this became the basis of his superb work. His book remains the main source of information for the appearance of the Palace of Westminster, which fortunately it depicts in great detail, before the fire of 1834 and also of the Abbey precincts before the clearance of the winding alleys and sinister rookeries reflected in the names of Thieving Lane and Little Sanctuary

The text for Smith's book was written by John Sidney Hawkins, antiquarian son of Sir John Hawkins, the friend and first biographer of Samuel Johnson. However, Hawkins was a difficult collaborator, and so antagonized Smith that Smith removed Hawkins's name from the title page and elsewhere in the volume. The conflict between the co-authors became very public.  My copy has bound at the back an elaborate supplement by Smith entitled Mr. John Thomas Smith's Vindication: Being an Answer to a pamphlet, written and Published by by John Sidney Hawkins. . . . concerning Mr. J.T. S's conduct in relation to the "Antiquities of Westminster." Abbey, Scenery, 210; Lowndes p. 2426. 

Hunnisett, Engraved on Steel. The History of Picture Production Using Steel Plates (1998) 110-11.

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Binny & Ronaldson Issue the First American Type Specimen 1809

In 1809 Binny & Ronaldson, the first type foundry in the United States, issued the first type specimen published in the United States. Printed by Fry & Kammerer in Philadelphia, this pamphlet of 13 leaves was entitled A Specimen of Metal Ornaments cast at the Letter Foundery of Binny & Ronaldson. Only two copies survived, of which only the copy in the Typographic Library and Museum of the American Type Founders Company in Jersey City is complete. In 1924 the American Institute of Graphic Arts issued a facsimile of the unique complete copy with a brief afterward by Carl Purlington Rollins.  Peculiarly, the two double page fold-outs are single images of two different jockeys walking two different anatomically correct stallions.

Daniel B. Updike wrote of this specimen:

"It was not a printer' specimen of types, but a founder's specimen of ornaments. About one hundred ornamental cuts are shown. In appearance the designs seem largely inspired from French sources. A few of them are like those shown in Pierre's collection of 1785. The general type of decoration in others is similar to cuts in the Gillé specimen of 1808. A feature of the book is its versions of the arms of the United States. Ill-executed mechanically for the most part, from a decorative point of view the collection is respectable and has considerable style" (Updike, Printing Types: Their History, Forms, and Use II [1922] 153-4).

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The Double Publication of the Double Elephant Folio of Anatomy 1823 – 1826

Considering that it is among the rarest of all anatomies, and certainly the largest, it is remarkable that two nearly identical editions of Paolo Mascagni’s posthumous life-size anatomy were published almost simultaneously. From 1823 to 1826 Francesco Antommarchi, a physician and anatomist of Corsican descent, issued from Paris Planches anatomiques du corps humain executes d’après les dimensions naturelles. This huge work contained 83 lithographed plates of which 48 were hand-colored and 35 were outline keys. The uncut sheets of the atlas measured 970 x 650 mm., or 25.5 x 38.25 inches. To accompany these plates Antommarchi published a folio text (Explication des planches anatomiques . . . in normal folio size with sheets 545 x 350 mm. or 21.5 x 13.75 inches. 

An edition with engraved plates was also published in Pisa under the title Anatomia universa (1823-32). Though the two editions were printed by different processes, the image quality of the two is remarkably similar and it is debatable which is superior from either the artistic or scientific standpoint. In an hommage to Vesalius, Antommarchi had imaginary landscape backgrounds created for the base of his musclemen. These did not appear in the Italian edition. There are other subtle differences: Antommarchi included letter keys within the images of some of the less-complex plates, eliminating the need for outline plates to those images. He also published more anatomical plates than the Italian edition, and, of course, his text was substantially different.

The publication history of these two editions is complex and usually misunderstood. The Paris edition was issued in 15 parts between 1823 and 1826 by the lithographic press of the Comte de Lasteyrie, one of the two founders of lithography in France (the text volume, issued in 1826, bears the imprint of Lasteyrie’s successor, R. Brégeaut). The atlas, with magnificent plates printed on single broadsheets measuring 970 x 650 mm., is comparable in size to the double elephant folio edition of Audubon’s Birds of America (1827-38), which measures about 985 x 660 mm.

Antommarchi's work is undoubtedly the largest lithographically printed book issued during the incunabula period of lithography. It is also the second anatomical atlas ever reproduced through the medium of lithography, overlapping in its years of publication with the Anatomie de l'homme ou descriptions et figures lithographes de toutes les parties du corps humain by the artist/anatomist Jules Germaine Cloquet, which was issued in five normal-sized folio volumes, also in Paris at the presses of Engelmann and de Lasteyrie from 1821 to 1831.

Antommarchi's atlas was issued in both colored and uncolored versions; according to the historian of anatomical illustration Ludwig Choulant, writing in the 1840s when copies of both editions may have remained available from the publishers, copies with colored plates could be purchased for 1050 francs and uncolored copies for 375 francs.

The preface to the text volume of the lithographed edition, written by Antommarchi, and personally signed by him on the verso of the title page, provides valuable information about this work’s publication history. Antommarchi studied under the great Italian anatomist Paolo Mascagni, and at the time of Mascagni’s death was serving as his prosector, responsible for preparing dissections for demonstration. During his career Mascagni spent a great deal of his time, energy and money in the production of a life-sized human anatomy, titled Anatomia universa, which he intended to have printed using engraved copperplates; this required meticulous preparation of very large copperplates for the work’s enormous images. Some scholars have suggested that Mascagni was hoping to have this work printed in color by the Le Blon / Gautier d’Agoty process; however, that process of color-printing mezzotints would not have been able to reproduce Mascagni’s drawings in sufficient detail. At his death Mascagni left this project unfinished, along with two others: an illustrated anatomy for sculptors and painters; and a treatise on the tissues of animals and plants intended as an introduction or “Prodromo” to the Anatomia universa. These manuscripts he put in the hands of Antommarchi, who was left in charge of publishing these three works on behalf of the Mascagni family.

In 1816 Antommarchi issued Mascagni’s anatomy for artists, edited by the author’s brother and grandson, under the title Anatomia per uso degli studiosi di scultura e pittura. According to Antommarchi’s preface to the present work (pp. iii-iv), the uncompleted works by Mascagni that remained after the publication of Anatomia per uso degli studiosi consisted of the following:

1. Trente planches ombrées, gravées sur cuivre et non terminés, de sa grande Anatomie;  

2. Quinze planches au simple trait, gravées presque toutes au dos des planches ombrées. Une multitude de fautes et d’erreurs s’étaient glissées dans la gravure, quoiqu’elle eût été faite du vivant de cet homme célèbre, et sur des dessins aussi soignés qu’ils étaient exacts;

Dix-neuf planches gravées sur cuivre, avec quelques cahiers manuscrits qui devaient servir de prodrome ou l’introduction à la grande anatomie;

4. Un certain nombre de dessins anatomiques et de cahiers manuscrits sur l’anatomie descriptive et l’économie rurale.

[1. Thirty shaded plates, engraved on copper and not completed, of his grand Anatomy;

2. Fifteen outline plates, almost all engraved on the backs of the shaded plates. A multitude of faults and errors have slipped in during the engraving, even though they were made during the lifetime of this famous man [Mascagni], and from drawings as detailed as they were exact;

3. Nineteen plates engraved on copper, with several manuscript notebooks intended to serve as the prodrome or introduction to the grand Anatomy;

4. A certain number of anatomical drawings and manuscript notebooks on descriptive aantomy and rural economy.]

Since the publication of the Prodromo and the grand anatomy would require a large sum of money, a private company was formed, with the Mascagni family’s permission, to supply the necessary funds. As Antommarchi states in his preface (p. iv),

Je fus mis à la tête de cette opération, chargé de coordonner les matériaux, de perfectionner les planches, de faire les textes, et de soigner la publication successive de ces deux ouvrages. [I was placed in charge of this operation, charged with coordinating materials, perfecting the plates, preparing the texts and overseeing the successive publication of these two books.]

Antommarchi issued the Prodromo in 1819. In the meantime he had been appointed physician to Napoleon, then in exile on the remote island of St. Helena, and on 10 September 1819 he was sent to St. Helena to provide medical care to the deposed emperor. It is possible that Napoleon requested Antommarchi’s services because, like Napoleon, Antommarchi was Corsican by birth. Antommarchi brought copies of Mascagni’s plates for the grand anatomy to St. Helena, and continued working on the project in his spare time. Napoleon took a great interest in the anatomy and even consented to have it dedicated to him; however, the emperor died in May 1821, prior to the completion of Antommarchi’s editorial labors. Antommarchi directed Napoleon’s autopsy, cast Napoleon’s death mask, and later published best-selling books about his experiences with the late emperor. Since he could not dedicate his edition to the living man, in homage to Napoleon’s memory, and in reference to the isolation of Napoleon’s remains on the remote island, Antommarchi dedicated his edition of Mascagni’s grand anatomy to the emperor’s tomb on St. Helena. (Napoleon’s body remained on the island until 1840, when it was moved to a tomb created for him in Paris.)

Upon Antommarchi’s return to Italy, as he recounts in his preface (p. v), he received an offer from the private company and Mascagni’s heirs,

où l’on me proposait de m’abandonner en totalité les exemplaires du Prodrome, les cuivres de cet ouvrage, ceux de la grande Anatomie, ainsi que tous les papiers qui pouvaient y avoir rapport. On demandait une somme de huit mille écus de Toscane, pour le paiement desquels on donnerait du temps et prendrait des sûretés convenables. La famille Mascagni, convaincue qu’il serait avantageux à l’acquéreur de ces deux ouvrages d’avoir les cuivres et les exemplaires qui restaient du “Traité sur les vaisseaux lymphatiques” et de l’Anatomie pittoresque, m’en proposait aussi l’acquisition pour la moitié de ce qui portait le prospectus.

[where they proposed to surrender to me in totality the copies of the Prodrome, the copperplates for that work, those of the grand Anatomy, as well as all the papers relating to it. They asked the sum of eight thousand Tuscan crowns, to be paid over time, for which they would take suitable security. The Mascagni family, convinced that it would be advantageous to the buyer of these two works to have the copperplates and remaining copies of [Mascagni’s] “Treatise on the lymphatic vessels” [1787] and the artists’ anatomy, also proposed that I purchase these works for half the sum indicated on the prospectus.]

Before this could be accomplished, however, Antommarchi was informed by M. Moggi, one of the private company’s representatives, that the company had decided not to go through with the deal, and that it wanted to dissolve itself. Antommarchi then went to Florence to propose another arrangement with the Mascagni family:

Je m’adressai de suite à la famille Mascagni, et lui proposait sept mille cinq cents écus, au lieu de six mille cinq cents que lui payait la société. Nous fûmes bientôt d’accord, les actes étaient rédigés, on allait signer; mais Moggi, qui était l’âme de toute cette affaire, avait d’autres vues. L’autorité intervint et refusa de sanctionner la transaction. “Puisqu’on m’empêche d’acquérir, qu’on s’exécute.—Nous ne voulons pas.—Mon travail?—Vous l’avez.—Je l’utiliserai.—Libre à vous.—Résilions.—Nous ne demandons pas mieux.” Ainsi fut fait; nous parùmes devant le magistrat, qui déclara la société dissoute. Mais l’opération était déjà passée en d’autres mains; je n’avais pu l’avoir pour sept mille cinq cents écus: on la céda pour trois mille. La famille Mascagni était désintéressée, je ne devais rien à la nouvelle société; je me disposai à tirer parti de mon travail.

[I next spoke to the Mascagni family and offered them seven thousand five hundred crowns in place of the six thousand five hundred that the company would have paid them. We were soon in agreement, the papers were drawn up and ready to be signed; but Moggi, who was the prime mover in this whole affair, had different ideas. Authorities intervened and refused to sanction the transaction. “Since you are forbidding me to purchase, then you take over.—We don’t want to.—My work?—You have it.—I will use it.—You are free to do so.—Let us quit.—We ask nothing better.” This was done; we appeared before the magistrate, who declared the company dissolved. But the operation had already passed into other hands; I could not have it for seven thousand five hundred crowns: they had sold it for three thousand. The Mascagni family was paid off, I owed nothing to the new company; I prepared to take advantage of my work.] 

The Mascagni family sold the copperplates of the grand anatomy to three professors at Pisa who began preparing their own edition of the work; this edition, containing 44 engraved illustrations and 44 outline plates (compared to 48 hand-colored plates and 35 outline plates called for in our edition) was published between 1823 and 1832 under the title Anatomia universa. In the meantime Antommarchi proceeded to Paris where he arranged to have his versions of the Mascagni plates lithographed by de Lasteyrie and issued under the title Planches anatomiques du corps humain. It is clear from his preface that Antommarchi believed he had full authority to publish his edition which, because of his close working relationship with Mascagni, may be closer to Mascagni’s original intention than the Italian version. Choulant, who provided an incorrect collation of Antommarchi’s edition, objected to the fact that Antommarchi left Mascagni’s name off the title page, but otherwise appears to have agreed. If one thinks of the Anatomia universa, edited by the three Pisa professors, as an adaptation of Mascagni’s plates according to the ideas of the three editors, he may, on the other hand, look upon Lasteyrie’s lithographed edition as Antommarchi’s adaptation, evidently prepared by him at St. Helena for his edition of Mascagni’s plates (Choulant, p. 319).

Complete sets of Antommarchi’s edition, with both the text and all the plates, are extremely rare, especially with the plates hand-colored. In 2012 OCLC and the Karlsruhe Virtuelle Katalog cited four copies of the text and atlas in American libraries (U. Chicago, National Library of Medicine, U. Minnesota and the College of Physicians in Philadelphia) plus six copies in France (Bibliothèque Nationale, Bibliothèque St. Geneviève, Paris BIUM, Bordeaux, U. Reims and U. de Lille), a copy at the British Library and four other European copies (Sachsische Landesbib., U. Leiden, Berlin, Halle). The library database records for these copies did not indicate whether the atlas plates were colored or black and white.

Choulant, History and Bibliography of Anatomic Illustration (1920) 315-320. Roberts & Tomlinson, The Fabric of the Body (1992) 384-96. Twyman, Lithography 1800-1850,  50-52.

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The Phenakistoscope, the First Device to Demonstrate the Illusion of a Moving Image 1832 – 1834

In 1832 Belgian physicist Joseph Antoine Ferdinand Plateau (Joseph Plateau) of Brussels became first person to demonstrate the illusion of a moving image. Plateau's device, which he called the phenakistoscope ("spindle viewer"), used the persistence of motion principle to create an illusion of motion. It consisted of two disks, one with small equidistant radial windows, through which the viewer could look, and another containing a sequence of images drawn around the disk in concentric circles. When viewed in a mirror through the first disk's slots, the pictures on the second disk appeared to move. The synchronization of the windows and the images created an animated effect.  Also in 1832, Viennese mathematician and inventor Simon von Stampfer invented a similar device, which he called a stroboscope.  

Two years later, 1834 when British mathematician William George Horner invented what came to be known as the zoetrope. Horner named his device a "daedalum," but it was widely called "the wheel of the devil." Perhaps the reference to the devil had less to do with Horner's device than with the often psychodelic and sometimes grotesque animated designs created for it.

Horner's invention made two significant improvements over the phenakistoscope: it could be viewed without a mirror, and more than one person could view the moving pictures at the same time.  Horner's device did not become widely popular until the 1860s when it was patented by both English and American makers, including the American game pioneer Milton Bradley. An American developer William F. Lincoln named his version of the toy the "zoetrope", meaning "wheel of life." This name became widely applied to the device.

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One of the First Applications of Spatial Analysis in Epidemology 1832 – 1834

In 1834 French economist, statistician and demographer Louis-François Benoiston de Châteauneuf, as head of a French commission, issued from Paris Rapport sur la marche et les effets du choléra-morbus dans Paris et les communes rurales du département de la Seine / par la commission nommée, avec l'approbation de M. le ministre du commerce et des travaux publics, par MM. les préfets de la Seine et de police ; année 1832. This work contained one of the earliest applications of spatial analysis in epidemiology—an early thematic map by geographer and cartographer Charles Picquet, in which the 48 districts of Paris were represented by color gradient according to the percentage of deaths from cholera per 1000 inhabitants.

In December 2013 digital versions of this work were available from the Bibliotheque nationale de France and other sites. 

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The First Commercially Viable Method of Color Printing 1834 – 1835

In 1835 London-based English artist and printer George Baxter received patent No. 6916, "Improvements for Producing Coloured Steel Plate, Copper Plate, and Other Impressions." His patent included an example of a print requiring 14 different impressions on the hand press before completion. The original printed patent in my possession, which reproduced Baxter's original color artwork in black & white like all early patents, could not accurately show the progression of colors involved, but the patent did explain the concepts.  Even though Baxter's process was elaborate, it was the first commercially viable method of color printing. A perfectionist, Baxter never personally profited from the process, probably because he used so many colors and extra hand-touches to achieve his desired results. 

Perhaps also because of the extreme complexity of the technique, Baxter's patent seems not to have been infringed upon. Eventually Baxter licensed the process to other printers, such as George C. Leighton, who being less perfectionistic, modified the process, and produced commercial color prints more efficiently and more profitably.

"Baxter’s process for producing colour prints combined relief and intaglio printing methods. A ‘key’ plate was prepared, usually made of steel and using any combination of engraving, stipple, etching and aquatint. Baxter also appears to have used mezzotint and lithography to create his key plate on occasion. The key plate provided the main lines of the image and much of the tone, light and shade. It was usually printed in a neutral tone, such as light grey or terracotta. Often Baxter used more than one colour to ink the key plate – for example, to gradate the image from blue in the sky, to buff in the middle distance and to a darker colour in the foreground; i.e. inking the plate à la poupée. Usually Baxter used aquatint for landscapes and stipple to work faces and figures.

"Following printing of the key plate, relief blocks were prepared, usually from wood but also from zinc or copper, using impressions of the key plate to create the blocks. Usually one block was prepared for each colour, although sometimes two or more colours or tints were included on the same block, requiring hand inking of each individual area. Each colour was applied and allowed to dry before adding the next colour. It is thought that Baxter usually started printing with a blue tint and then progressed through the other colours in a predetermined order – all blocks were numbered sequentially and labelled with the colour to be used. Sometimes up to 24 separate colours were used, although ten could be considered an average number. Baxter achieved his precise registration by fixing the print over a number of spikes, over which the blocks would also fit.

"Baxter is thought to have used hand-colouring for finishing touches on occasion – for example, '… extra touches of red on the mouths, high white lights upon jewels . . .' It is also believed Baxter occasionally applied glaze via an additional printing step all over the image, composed of his usual varnish with a ‘hard drier’ added to make it insoluble in water. More often, however, it is thought that Baxter glazed areas of the print selectively by hand using a glaze composed of gum arabic, egg white and Castile soap" (Wikipedia article on George Baxter, accessed 05-17-2012).

Probably the first published "Baxter Prints" were two small cameo prints of birds illustrating the title pages of Robert Mudie's The Feathered Tribes of the British Islands (London, 1834). The are captioned in small type, "Engraved on Wood and Printed in Colours, by G. Baxter."  The following year Baxter color printed title page vignettes and also the frontispieces of Mudie's 4-volume set, The Heavens, the Earth, the Sea, and the Air.  My copy of the first edition of Mudie's The Sea, presumably issued after the Baxter's patent was granted, has a color frontispiece entitled "Evening on the Sea,"captioned "Baxter's Patent Oil Colour Printing."

Burch, Colour Printing and Colour Printers (1910) 124-134.  

♦ For collectors and students of Baxter prints there is the New Baxter Society in England.

(This entry was last revised on 03-19-2014.)

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Charles Knight Invents "Illuminated Printing" & Offers Printed Color Plates at a Low Price for the Mass Market 1838 – 1845

In 1838 English printer and publisher Charles Knight received British patent No. 7673 for "Improvements in the Process and in the Apparatus used in the Production of Coloured Impressions on Paper, Vellum, Parchment, and Pasteboard by Surface Printing." Knight called his color printing process "illuminated printing," and invented it for the economical printing of colored pictures, maps, and drawings.

"At first only four colours were contemplated, and by some ingenious mechanism he contrived that they should all be applied in the course of a single passage of the sheet through the press, which was operated by hand. Knight, like Savage, had a decided preference for a press of the 'Ruthven' type, in which the platen was normally at the back, but was brought over the forme by means of two springs, which 'gave' to the pull, but resumed their ordinary position when the bar was released. Knight fitted the machine, in place of the usual bed, with a polygonal revolving frame, or, as he called it, 'prism' (attached to a rising table), each face of which, carrying a colour block, was applied in sucession to the sheet as the frame revolved. In an alternative method, the frame with the blocks on it revolved ona sort of turn-table, placed on the bed of the press; whilst in a third, the tympan, with the sheet attached, was carried from block to block. It will be remembered that this idea of printing several colours at one operation of the press had been to some extent anticpated by Lalleman, at Paris, two centuries earlier. The specification also describes an apparatus in which the colour blocks were on beds, hinged to the sides of a square table, and turned backward to be inked by hand, and down again for the impression. The process was in regular operation in 1839, as the Quarterly Review for December in that year contains an article, headed "The Printer's Devil," in which is a description of Clowes' printing establishment, and a fairly lengthy reference to Knight's colour-printing method, which the writer of the article in question saw at work, in connection with the production of "Patent Illuminated Maps." He describes the printing apparatus as resembling a square box, each of the four sides of which carried a printing plate, for blue, yellow, red and black respectively, which were applied to the sheet in the ordered named, the last having the letterpress matter for the names of places,etc. The tints being partly blended on the paper, three more were furnished in that way, i.e. the yellow and the red gave orange, the yellow and blue green, and so on, there being thus seven colours in all" (Burch, Colour Printing and Colour Printers [1910] 141-43).

In 1839 Knight issued a couple of examples of his "illuminated printing" in his publication of engraver John Jackson's A Treatise on Wood Engraving Historical and Practical. One of my copies contains at p. 715 as called for in the List of Illustrations, "A Café in Constantinople, and a Design for a Pattern, two of "Mr. Knight's Patent Illuminated Prints." My other copy substitutes Knight's "Patent Illuminated Map" of Ancient Jerusalem, a double-page tip-in, for the Constantinople scene.  Both copies also contain a more finely detailed Baxter print of "Parsonage at Ovingham" at p. 713. This book, which contained 269 illustrations, for the most part wood-engravings by Jackson himself, including a full-page engraved portrait of Jackson's teacher, Thomas Bewick, was co-authored by the writer William Chatto, who wrote the first seven chapters, and signed a preface explaining his authorship. Jackson failed to credit Chatto on the title page—a fault that was corrected in the second edition of 1861. A specially bound copy in my collection, presented by Jackson to the London bookseller Thomas Tegg on July 10, 1839, is labeled on the spine "Treatise on Wood Engraving / Illustrations by Jackson" confirming, however, that Jackson did not take credit for the text.

In 1840 Knight published a series of his "illuminated maps" in Hughes, The Illuminated Atlas of Scripture Geography: A Series of Maps Delineating the Physical and Historical Features in the Geography of Palestine and the Adjacent Countries accompanyied with An Explanatory Notice of Each Map. . . This small 4to contained 20 double-page maps color-printed by Knight's process. Regarding the maps, the work stated on p. 6:

"Lastly, we have to explain in a few words the peculiarities which distinguish the appearance of these Maps from any which have hitherto been published. These are, —1st, That, by a novel method of printing, the various divisions of the countries are covered with distinct colours, so that the boundaries are clearly perceived at the first view; and 2nd, That the mountains, instead of being, as in maps engraved in the usual manner, indicated by black lines, are in white, distinctly and prominently relieved by the coloured ground. In the best engraved maps a serious imperfection has always been felt to result from the names and the hills being alike printed in black, in consequence of which, either names are obscured by the hills, or the hills must be omitted in order to allow of the names being read. This renders them exceedingly difficult of reference; and it may be generally remarked of engraved maps, that in proportion as the physical features of country are fully and correctly delineated, so do the names and boundaries become obscure and unintelligble. In the ordinary process of map-engraving, the evil complained of appears unavoidable; but this is no longer the case when a different medium is used for conveying each part of the requisite information. By the method adopted in this series of Maps, the physical features of the countries—their hills and valleys—their lakes and streams—are clearly delinieated, without in the least interfering with the exhibition of names and places; while their various divisions, distinguished by colours, are presented at once and distinctly to the eye of the student. They will thus, it is believed, be found better calculated than any hitherto published to serve the important purposes of School and Home Education."

While the quality of the color prints in the works issued in 1839 and 1840 was quite good, during 1844 and 1845 Knight issued Old England: A Pictorial Museum in ninety-six fascicules in small folio format containing 24 plates printed by his patented color printing process, and a total of 2,488 numbered wood engravings. The color plates in this work are relatively crude and take on an almost painterly quality in their inexact registration. When the set was complete title pages were issued for two volumes, and Knight offered the set for sale in publisher's cloth bindings, blind-stamped and gilt in 1845. Old England must have been a commerical success, selling a large number of copies, since copies were readily available on the rare book market more than 100 years later in 2012, when I acquired two copies.

(This entry was last revised on 02-11-2015.)

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The Most Famous Image in the Early History of Computing 1839

Portrait of Jacquard woven in silk on a Jacquard loom.

In 1839 weaver Michel-Marie Carquillat, working for the firm of Didier, Petit et Cie, in Lyon, France wove in fine silk a Portrait of Joseph-Marie Jacquard, The image, including caption and Carquillat’s name, taking credit for the weaving, measures 55 x 34 cm.; the full piece of silk including blank margins measures 85 x 66 cm.

This image, of which perhaps only about 20 examples survived, was woven on a Jacquard loom using 24,000 Jacquard cards, each of which had over 1000 hole positions. The process of mis en carte, or converting the image details to punched cards for the Jacquard mechanism, for this exceptionally large and detailed image, would have taken several workers many months, as the woven image convincingly portrays superfine elements such as a translucent curtain over glass window panes.

The Jacquard loom did no computation, and for that reason it was not a digital device in the way we think of digital today. However the method by which Jacquard stored information in punched cards by either punching a hole in s standardized space in a card or not punching a whole in that space is analogous to a zero or one or an on and off switch. It was also an important conceptual step in the history of computing because the Jacquard method of storing information in punched cards, and weaving a pattern by following the series of instructions recorded in a train of punched cards, was used by Charles Babbage in his plans for data and program input, and data output and storage in his general purpose programmable computer, the Analytical EngineOffsite Link. Trains of Jacquard cards were programs in the modern sense of computer programs, though the word "program" did not have that meaning until after the development of electronic computers after World War II.

Once all the “programming” was completed, the process of weaving the image with its 24,000 punched cards would have taken more than eight hours, assuming that the weaver was working at the usual Jacquard loom speed of about forty-eight picks per minute, or about 2800 per hour. More than once this woven image was mistaken for an engraved image. The image was produced only to order, most likely in an exceptionally small number of examples. In 2012 the only publically recorded examples were those in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Science Museum, London, The Art Institute of Chicago, and the Computer History Museum, Mountain View, California. The image was the subject of the book by James Essinger entitled, Jacquard's Web. How a Hand Loom led to the Birth of the Information Age (2004).

To Charles Babbage the incredible sophistication of the information processing involved in the mis en carte — what we call programming— of this exceptionally elaborate and beautiful image confirmed the potential of using punched cards for the input, programming, output and storage of information in his design and conception of the first general-purpose programmable computer—the Analytical Engine. The highly aesthetic result also confirmed to Babbage that machines were capable of amazingly complex and subtle processes—processes which might eventually emulate the subtlety of the human mind.

“In June 1836 Babbage opted for punched cards to control the machine [the Analytical Engine]. The principle was openly borrowed from the Jacquard loom, which used a string of punched cards to automatically control the pattern of a weave. In the loom, rods were linked to wire hooks, each of which could lift one of the longitudinal threads strung between the frame. The rods were gathered in a rectangular bundle, and the cards were pressed one at a time against the rod ends. If a hole coincided with a rod, the rod passed through the card and no action was taken. If no hole was present then the card pressed back the rod to activate a hook which lifted the associated thread, allowing the shuttle which carried the cross-thread to pass underneath. The cards were strung together with wire, ribbon or tape hinges, and fan-folded into large stacks to form long sequences. The looms were often massive and the loom operator sat inside the frame, sequencing through the cards one at a time by means of a foot pedal or hand lever. The arrangement of holes on the cards determined the pattern of the weave.

“As well as patterned textiles for ordinary use, the technique was used to produce elaborate and complex images as exhibition pieces. One well-known piece was a shaded portrait of Jacquard seated at table with a small model of his loom. The portrait was woven in fine silk by a firm in Lyon using a Jacquard punched-card loom. . . . Babbage was much taken with the portrait, which is so fine that it is difficult to tell with the naked eye that it is woven rather than engraved. He hung his own copy of the prized portrait in his drawing room and used it to explain his use of the punched cards in his Engine. The delicate shading, crafted shadows and fine resolution of the Jacquard portrait challenged existing notions that machines were incapable of subtlety. Gradations of shading were surely a matter of artistic taste rather than the province of machinery, and the portrait blurred the clear lines between industrial production and the arts. Just as the completed section of the Difference Engine played its role in reconciling science and religion through Babbage’s theory of miracles, the portrait played its part in inviting acceptance for the products of industry in a culture in which aesthetics was regarded as the rightful domain of manual craft and art” (Swade, The Cogwheel Brain. Charles Babbage and the Quest to Build the First Computer [2000] 107-8).

(This entry was last revised on 02-28-2016.)

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"The Illustrated London News", the First Fully Illustrated Weekly Newspaper, Begins Publication May 14, 1842

On Saturday, May 14, 1842 politician and journalist Herbert Ingram and Mark Lemon, editor of Punch, published the first issue of The Illustrated London News. "Costing sixpence, the magazine had 16 pages and 32 woodcuts. It included pictures of the war in Afghanistan, a train crash in France, a steamboat explosion in Canada and a fancy dress ball at Buckingham Palace."

This was probably the first attempt to publish an illustrated news publication. The Illustrated London News continued as a weekly until 1971. According to Gale Digital Collections, publisher of the online archive of The Illustrated London News, circulation was 60,000 in 1842 and, 300,000 at its peak in the 1860s. 

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The First Commercial Christmas Card May 1, 1843

On May 1, 1843 English Academic painter and illustrator John Callcott Horsley designed the first commercially produced Christmas card, commissioned by English civil servant and inventor Henry Cole.  The card, which read "A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year to You," was controversial because it included a picture of a family with a small child drinking wine together. This possibly contributed to its commercial success with two printings totalling 2050 cards sold in 1843 for one shilling each. On November 24, 2001 a copy of this card sold for £22,500 at auction at Henry Aldridge and Son in Devizes, Wiltshire, England.

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The First Scientific Instrument to Record Scientific Information in Real Time 1847

In 1847 German physician and physiologist Carl Friedrich Wilhem Ludwig published "Beiträge zur Kenntniss des Einflusses der Respirationsbewegungen auf den Blutlauf im Aortensysteme" in Archiv für Anatomie, Physiologie und wissenschaftliche Medizin (1847) 242-302 issued from Berlin.

This was the Ludwig's first description of his kymograph, the first instrument to record scientific information in graphic form in real time, which Ludwig created by modifying Poiseuille’s hemodynamometer so that it could record its results graphically. This device, further modified by Marey and Chaveau, became a standard tool for the graphic recording of experimental results; it is illustrated in Ludwig's plate numbered 10 in the journal volume. 

Ludwig's paper was accompanied by 5 plates showing the apparatus and its method of graphic recording on a metal drum covered with smoked paper which was scratched with a moving stylus, leaving smoke-free lines. These paper sheets were then removed from the drum and fixed with varnish to preserve the record.

J. Norman (ed). Morton's Medical Bibliography 5th ed (1991) No. 770.

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1850 – 1875

Jules Antoine Lissajous Describes Lissajous Figures 1857

In 1857 Jules Antoine Lissajous, professor of mathematics at the Lycée Saint-Louis in Paris, published "Mémoire sur l'Etude optique des mouvements vibratoires,"  Annales de chimie et de physique, 3rd series, 51 (1857) 147-232, 2 folding plates. Lissajous's paper on his optical method of studying vibration gave rise to the widely used "Lissajous figures," or Lissajous curves, defined mathematically as curves in the xy plane generated by the functions y = a sin (w1t + q1) and x = b sin (w2t + q2) where w1 and w2 are small integers.

"Like some other physicists of his time, Lissajous was interested in demonstrations of vibration that did not depend on the sense of hearing. . . . [His] most important research, first described in 1855, was the invention of a way to study acoustic vibrations by reflecting a light beam from the vibrating object onto a screen. . . . Lissajous produced two kinds of luminous curves. In the first kind, light is reflected from a tuning fork (to which a small mirror is attached), and then from a large mirror that is rotated rapidly. . . . The second kind of curve, named the 'Lissajous figure,' is more useful. The light beam is successively reflected from mirrors on two forks that are vibrating about mutually perpendicular axes. Persistence of vision causes various curves, whose shapes depend on the relative frequency, phase, and amplitude of the forks' vibrations. . . . If one of the forks is a standard, the form of the curve enables an estimate of the parameters of the other. As Lissajous said, they enable one to study beats (the ellipses rotate as the phase difference changes). 'Lissajous figures' have been, and still are, important in this respect" (DSB).

Lissajous figures are sometimes used in graphic design as logos. Examples include the logos of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (a = 1, b = 3, d = p/2) and the Lincoln Laboratory at MIT (a = 4, b = 3, d = 0).

Prior to modern computer graphics, Lissajous curves were typically generated using an oscilloscope. Two phase-shifted sinusoid inputs are applied to the oscilloscope in X-Y mode and the phase relationship between the signals is presented as a Lissajous figure. Lissajous curves can also be traced mechanically by means of a harmonograph. They often appear in computer screensavers.

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Florence Nightingale's Rose Diagram 1858 – January 1859

Detail from Nightingale's "Diagram of the Causes of Mortality in the Army of the East. Please click on the link below to view and resize full image.  Please see http://understandinguncertainty.org/coxcombs for an interactive version of the coxcombs.

Florence Nightingale.

In 1858 nurse, statistician, and reformer Florence Nightingale published Notes on Matters Affecting the Health, Efficiency, and Hospital Administration of the British Army. Founded Chiefly on the Experience of the Late War. Presented by Request to the Secretary of State for War. This privately printed work contained a color statistical graphic entitled "Diagram of the Causes of Mortality in the Army of the East" which showed that epidemic disease, which was responsible for more British deaths in the course of the Crimean War than battlefield wounds, could be controlled by a variety of factors including nutrition, ventilation, and shelter. The graphic, which Nightingale used as a way to explain complex statistics simply, clearly, and persuasively, has become known as Nightingale's "Rose Diagram." 

In January 1859 Nightingale more offically published and distributed  A Contribution to the the Sanitary History of the British Army During the Late War with Russia. This also contained a copy of the Rose Diagram.

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Charles Joseph Minard Issues One of the Best Statistical Graphic Ever Drawn November 20, 1869

On November 20, 1869 French civil engineer Charles Joseph Minard published in Paris Carte figurative des pertes successives en hommes de l'Armée Française dans la campagne de Russie 1812-1813This was a a flow map on Napoleon's disastrous Russian campaign of 1812 in which he marched his army of 500,000 men from the Neman River to Moscow.

"The graph displays several variables in a single two-dimensional image:

"• the army's location and direction, showing where units split off and rejoined

"• the declining size of the army (note e.g. the crossing of the Berezina river on the retreat)

"• the low temperatures during the retreat.

"Étienne-Jules Marey first called notice to this dramatic depiction of the terrible fate of Napoleon's army in the Russian campaign, saying it "defies the pen of the historian in its brutal eloquence". Edward Tufte says it 'may well be the best statistical graphic ever drawn' and uses it as a prime example in The Visual Display of Quantitative Information" (Wikipedia article on Charles Joseph Minard, accessed 01-16-2011).

The chart is a lithograph 62 x 30 cm.  

♦ An essay on Minard's historical sources for the chart, and a different reproduction pf the chart, was available at http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/minard in January 2011.

♦ The bibliographer of Minard's statistical graphics, Michael Friendly, posted several very interesting graphic variations on Minard's chart as Re-Visions of Minard. "I use 're-vision' in the sense of both 'to revise' and 'to see again', possibly from a new perspective." This was also available in January 2011.

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Francis Amasa Walker Issues The First National Thematic Atlas 1874

In 1874 American economist, statistician, journalist, educator, academic administrator, and military officer Francis Amasa Walker published in Washington, D.C. at the Government Printing Office Statistical Atlas of the United States Based on the Results of the Ninth Census 1870 with Contributions from Many Eminent Men of Science and Several Departments of the Government. This oversized compendium of maps, graphs, statistical tables, and essays by scientists, economists, and federal officials was the first comprehensive thematic atlas produced by any nation.  It was hailed both at home and abroad for its innovative use of graphic elements to distill and display complex data. When he conceived and supervised production and publication of this work Walker was Chief of the U. S. Bureau of Statistics and superintendent of the 1870 census. The 60 large maps, most of which were printed in color, were chromolithographed in New York by Julius Bien, who produced the plates for the first American full-size reissue of portions of Audubon's Birds of America (1858-60).

Kinnahan, "Charting Progress: Francis Amasa Walker's Statistical Atlas of the United States and Narratives of Western Expansion," American Quarterly 60 (2008) 399-423.

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James Clerk Maxwell's Three-Dimensional Thermodynamic Surface in Clay 1874

In a letter to Irish physicist Thomas Andrews of Belfast dated July 15, 1875 Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell, then at the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge, wrote "I think you know Prof. J. Willard Gibbs's (Yale College Connecticut) graphical methods in thermodynamics. Last winter I made several attempts to model the surface which he suggests, in which the three coordinates are volume, entropy and energy. The numerical data about entropy can only be obtained by integration from data which are for most bodies very insufficient, and besides it would require a very unwieldy model to get all the features, say of CO2, well represented, so I made no attempt at accuracy, but modelled a fictitious substance, in which the volume is greater when solid than when liquid; and in which, as in water, the saturated vapour becomes superheated by compression. When I had at last got a plaster cast I drew on it lines of equal pressure and temperature, so as to get a rough motion of their forms. This I did by placing the model in sunlight, and tracing the curve when the rays just grazed the surface... I send you a sketch of these lines...."

The result of Maxwell's clay modelling project, an early information visualization project known as Maxwell's thermodynamic surface, is an 1874 sculpture which provides a

"three-dimensional plot of the various states of a fictitious substance with water-like properties. This plot has coordinates volume (x), entropy (y), and energy (z). It was based on the American scientist Josiah Willard Gibbs’ graphical thermodynamics papers of 1873. The model, in Maxwell's words, allowed 'the principal features of known substances [to] be represented on a convenient scale.' 

"Gibbs' papers defined what Gibbs called the 'thermodynamic surface,' which expressed the relationship between the volume, entropy, and energy of a substance at different temperatures and pressures. However, Gibbs did not include any diagrams of this surface. After receiving reprints of Gibbs' papers, Maxwell recognized the insight afforded by Gibbs' new point of view and set about to construct physical three-dimensional models of the surface. This reflected Maxwell's talent as a strong visual thinker and prefigured modern scientific visualization techniques.

"Maxwell sculpted the original model in clay and made three plaster casts of the clay model, sending one to Gibbs as a gift, keeping the other two in his laboratory at Cambridge University. Maxwell's copy is on display at the Cavendish Laboratory of Cambridge University, while Gibbs' copy is on display at the Sloane Physics Laboratory of Yale University, where Gibbs held a professorship" (Wikipedia article on Maxwell's thermodynamic surface, accessed 12-25-2012).

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1875 – 1900

The "New York Tribune" Publishes the First Significant Series of Illustrations in a Daily Newspaper June 30, 1875

On June 30, 1875 the New York Tribune published a series of 36 relief blocks on its front page showing the targets at an International Rifle Match in Dublin, Ireland.

The blocks were produced in New York from target coordinates transmitted over the Atlantic telegraph. These were the first significant series of illustrations published in a daily newspaper.

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Marey Pioneers Recording Scientific Results Graphically 1878

In 1878 French physiologist and chronographer Étienne-Jules Marey published La méthode graphique dans les sciences expérimentales et principalement en physiologie et en médecine in Paris. Marey pioneered the use of graphical recording in the experimental sciences, using instruments (many of his own invention) to capture and display data impossible to observe with the senses alone, and to record visually the progression of such data over time. He began by applying graphical recording methods to problems in physiology, using machines to investigate the mechanics of the circulatory, respiratory and muscular systems. After 1868 he turned to the study of human and animal locomotion, and in the 1880s he began using cinematography to record animal motion, making him one of the pioneers in this field.

Marey’s graphical recording methods, at first looked on askance by the French medical establishment, eventually led to Marey’s election to the Académie des Sciences, where he occupied the chair in the medical and surgical section once held by Claude Bernard. In the same year Marey published his La méthode graphique, an encyclopedic summary of all of his research and results so far. It began, as did all Marey’s publications, with a scrupulous history in which he enumerated his predecessors and described what he had borrowed from each. He then defined the purposes of his inscribing machines and showed how they were able to describe both movement and force as well as to store the information as material for comparison and research. He described the circulatory and locomotion phenomena he had studied, but this time he focused on methods of recording them. He reviewed the function of the mechanical models he had created, and finally he explained the locomotion of humans, horses, birds and insects and showed the devices for registering their movements. “There is nothing,” wrote Marey, “that can escape the methods of analysis at our disposal” (Braun, Picturing Time: The Work of Etienne-Jules Marey 39-40).

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Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions 1884

In 1884 English clergyman and headmaster of the City of London School  Edwin A. Abbott published a work of scientific fantasy or mathematical fiction entitled Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions. With illustrations by the Author, A SQUARE.

"It is a charming, slightly pedestrian tale of imaginary beings; polygons who live in a two-dimensional universe of the Euclidean plane. Just below the surface, though, it is a biting satire on Victorian values--especially as regards women and social status-- and an accomplished and original piece of scientific popularization about the fourth dimension. And, perhaps, an allegory of a spiritual journey" (Ian Stewart, editor, The Annotated Flatland [2002] ix).

♦ In 2008 Ladd Ehlinger Jr. produced an excellent computer-animated film of Flatland, which he characterized as a tale of "math, physics, dimensionality, philosophy, religion and war." 

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Historical Graphic Interpretation of Man's Quest for Knowledge of the Universe 1888

In 1888 astronomer and prolific writer Camille Flammarion published  L'atmosphère: météorologie populaire in Paris.  What remains most notable about this work was a single wood engraved image which it published for the first time, known historically as the Flammarion engraving. This pastiche is one of the most widely studied and reproduced historical interpretations of man's quest for knowledge of the universe.

"The engraving depicts a man, clothed in a long robe and carrying a staff, who kneels down and passes his head, shoulders, and right arm through a gap between the starry sky and the earth, discovering a marvellous realm of circling clouds, fires and suns beyond the heavens. One of the elements of the cosmic machinery bears a strong resemblance to traditional pictorial representations of the "wheel in the middle of a wheel" described in the visions of the Hebrew prophet Ezekiel. One of the most significant features of the landscape is the tree, which some people have interpreted as the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. The caption that accompanies the engraving in Flammarion's book reads

"A missionary of the Middle Ages tells that he had found the point where the sky and the Earth touch..."

"In 1957, astronomer Ernst Zinner claimed that the image dated to the German Renaissance, but he was unable to find any version published earlier than 1906. Further investigation, however, revealed that the work was a composite of images characteristic of different historical periods, and that it had been made with a burin, a tool used for wood engraving only since the late 18th century. The image was traced to Flammarion's book by Arthur Beer, an astrophysicist and historian of German science at Cambridge and, independently, by Bruno Weber, the curator of rare books at the Zürich central library.

"Flammarion had been apprenticed at the age of twelve to an engraver in Paris and it is believed that many of the illustrations for his books were engraved from his own drawings, probably under his supervision. Therefore it is plausible that Flammarion himself created the image, though the evidence for this remains circumstantial. Like most other illustrations in Flammarion's books, the engraving carries no attribution. Although sometimes referred to as a forgery or a hoax, Flammarion does not characterize the engraving as a medieval or renaissance woodcut, and the mistaken interpretation of the engraving as an older work did not occur until after Flammarion's death. The decorative border surrounding the engraving is distinctly non-medieval and it was only by cropping it that the confusion about the historical origins of the image became possible. According to Bruno Weber and to astronomer Joseph Ashbrook, the depiction of a spherical heavenly vault separating the earth from an outer realm is similar to the first illustration in Sebastian Münster's Cosmographia of 1544, a book which Flammarion, an ardent bibliophile and book collector, might have owned.

"In Flammarion's L'atmosphère: météorologie populaire, the image refers to the text on the facing page (p. 163), which also clarifies the author's intent in using it as an illustration:

Whether the sky be clear or cloudy, it always seems to us to have the shape of an elliptic arch; far from having the form of a circular arch, it always seems flattened and depressed above our heads, and gradually to become farther removed toward the horizon. Our ancestors imagined that this blue vault was really what the eye would lead them to believe it to be; but, as Voltaire remarks, this is about as reasonable as if a silk-worm took his web for the limits of the universe. The Greek astronomers represented it as formed of a solid crystal substance; and so recently as Copernicus, a large number of astronomers thought it was as solid as plate-glass. The Latin poets placed the divinities of Olympus and the stately mythological court upon this vault, above the planets and the fixed stars. Previous to the knowledge that the earth was moving in space, and that space is everywhere, theologians had installed the Trinity in the empyrean, the glorified body of Jesus, that of the Virgin Mary, the angelic hierarchy, the saints, and all the heavenly host.... A naïve missionary of the Middle Ages even tells us that, in one of his voyages in search of the terrestrial paradise, he reached the horizon where the earth and the heavens met, and that he discovered a certain point where they were not joined together, and where, by stooping his shoulders, he passed under the roof of the heavens...

"The same paragraph had already appeared, without the accompanying engraving, in an earlier edition of the text published under the title of L'atmosphère: description des grands phénomènes de la Nature ("The Atmosphere: Description of the Great Phenomena of Nature," 1872). The correspondence between the text and the illustration is so close that one would appear to be based on the other. Had Flammarion known of the engraving in 1872, it seems unlikely that he would have left it out of that year's edition, which was already heavily illustrated. The more probable conclusion therefore is that Flammarion commissioned the engraving specifically to illustrate this particular text, though this has not been ascertained conclusively (Wikipedia article on Flammarion engraving, accessed 11-29-2012).

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Nomograms: A Graphical Method of Calculation 1891

In 1891 French engineer and applied mathematician Philbert Maurice d'Ocagne published Nomographie, les calculs usuels effectués au moyen des abaques. In this work on nomograms or nomographs he

"presented the first outline of a rationally ordered discipline embracing all the individual procedures of nomographical calulation then known. Pursuing this subject, he succeeded in defining and classifying the most general modes of representation applicable to equations with an arbitrary number of variables. The results of all these investigations, along with a considerable number of applications . . .  [he] set forth in Traité de nomographie (1899), which was followed by other more or less developed expositions. This material appeared in fifty-nine partial or entire translations in fourteen languages" (Dictionary of Scientific Biography X [1974] 170). 

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The First Animated Films are Shown October 28, 1892

In 1892 Charles-Émile Reynaud, inventor of the praxinoscope, an animation system using loops of 12 pictures, created the first animated films.

"On October 28, 1892 at Musée Grévin in Paris, France he exhibited animations consisting of loops of about 500 frames, using his Théâtre Optique system - similar in principle to a modern film projector" (Wikipedia article on History of Animation, accessed 05-24-2009).

"The show, billed as Pantomimes Lumineuses, included three cartoons, Pauvre Pierrot, Un bon bock, and Le Clown et ses chiens, each consisting of 500 to 600 individually painted images and lasting about 15 minutes. Reynaud acted as the projectionist and the show was accompanied by a piano player. Although the films shown by the Lumière Brothers in 1895 eclipsed it, the show stayed at the Musée Grévin until 1900 by which time over 500,000 people had seen it" (Wikipedia article on Théâtre Optique, accessed 05-24-2009).

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d'Ocagne Publishes the First Systematic Classification of Calculating Machines 1894

In 1894 Philbert Maurice d'Ocagne published Le Calcul simplifiée par procèdes mécaniques et graphiques. This contained the first systematic classification of calculating machines.

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Mallarmé: Experimentation with the Relationship Between the Word and the Printed Page May 1897

In May 1897 French symbolist poet Stéphane Mallarmé issued his poem Un coup de dés jamais n'abolira le hasard (A Throw of the Dice will Never Abolish Chance) in the magazine CosmopolisMallarmé's death in 1898 prevented him from realizing the full expression of his experimentation with the relationship between the word and the printed page. The poem was first published in book form on July 10, 1914 by the Imprimérie Sainte Catherine at Bruges, in an edition limited to 60 copies. In this edition the printers attempted to follow Mallarmé's specific instructions for the typography:

"The poem is spread over 20 pages, in various typefaces, amidst liberal amounts of blank space. Each pair of consecutive facing pages is to be read as a single panel; the text flows back and forth across the two pages, along irregular lines.

The sentence that names the poem is split into three parts, printed in large capital letters on panels 1, 6, and 8. A second textual thread in smaller capitals apparently begins on the right side of panel 1, QUAND MÊME LANCÉ DANS DES CIRCONSTANCES ÉTERNELLES DU FOND D'UN NAUFRAGE ("Even when thrown under eternal circumstances from the bottom of a shipwreck"). Other interlocking threads in various typefaces start throughout the book. At the bottom right of the last panel is the sentence Toute Pensée émet un Coup de Dés ('Every Thought issues a Throw of Dice')" (Wikipedia article on Un Coup de Dés . . . , accessed 01-27-2014). 


"Prior to 2004, "Un Coup de Dés" was never published in the typography and format conceived by Mallarmé. In 2004, 90 copies on vellum of a new edition were published by Michel Pierson et Ptyx. This edition reconstructs the typography originally designed by Mallarmé for the projected Vollard edition in 1897 and which was abandoned after the sudden death of the author in 1898. All the pages are printed in the format (38 cm by 28 cm) and in the typography chosen by the author. The reconstruction has been made from the proofs which are kept in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, taking into account the written corrections and wishes of Mallarmé and correcting certain errors on the part of the printers Firmin-Didot.

"A copy of this new edition can be consulted in the Bibliothèque François-Mitterrand. Copies have been acquired by the Bibliothèque littéraire Jacques-Doucet and University of California - Irvine, as well as by private collectors. A copy has been placed in the Museum Stéphane Mallarmé at Vulaines-sur-Seine, Valvins, where Mallarmé lived and died and where, according to Paul Valéry, he made his final corrections on the proofs prior to the projected printing of the poem" (Wikipedia article on Stéphane Mallarmé, accessed 01-27-2014).

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Perhaps the Earliest Example of Stop-Motion Animation December 1899

Matches: An Appeal, an English short subject by Arthur-Melbourne Cooper, developed for the Bryant and May Matchsticks company of Bow, London in December 1899, may be the earliest surviving example of stop-motion animation. It involved stop-motion animation of wired-together matches writing a patriotic call to action on a blackboard.

"The film contains an appeal to send money to Bryant and May who would then send matches to the British troops which were fighting in the Boer War in South Africa. It was shown in December 1899 at The Empire Theatre in London. This film is the earliest known example of stop-motion animation. Little puppets, constructed of matchsticks, are writing the appeal on a black wall. Their movements are filmed frame by frame, movement by movement. With this film Britain was 6 or 7 years ahead of animation pioneers in France and the United States" (Wikipedia article on Arthur Melbourne-Cooper, accessed 02-15-2012).

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1900 – 1910

"The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism" January – February 20, 1909

On February 5, 1909 Italian poet and editor Filippo Tommaso Marinetti published Manifesto iniziale del Futurismo in the newspaper Gazzetta dell'Emilia in Bologna. In Milan, Marinetti had begun writing its list of eleven demands in October or November 1908, and in January 1909 he circulated to his friends a two-page leaflet entitled Manifesto del Futurismo containing the programmatic section. Later that month Marinetti wrote the narrative preamble that would accompany his list of demands, and sent the document to the Gazzetta dell'Emilia, and other newspapers. Within the month of February, Marinetti's first manifesto of futurism was reprinted, according to the article on Marinetti in the Italian Wikipedia, in 5 Italian newspapers and one magazine: in Il Pungolo of Naples on February 6, in Arena in Verona on February 9, in Il Piccolo of Trieste on February 10, in Il Giorno of Rome on February 16, and in the weekly magazine Tavola rotonda of Naples on February 14. On February 20, through the influence of one of the major shareholders of Le Figaro, who had been a friend of Marinetti's father, the manifesto was published in French on the front page of the leading French newspaper, Le Figaro. From this version, which was headed simply, "Le Futurisme" on the front page of the newspaper, but which is typically translated as The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism, Marinetti became an international celebrity. On the issue of whether or not Marinetti revised the text during the various rapid reprints or in the French translation I have seen no scholarship. 

"The Futurist Revolution did not seem, at first, to be much concerned with books. In Filippo Tommaso Marinetti's intitial Futurist Manifesto . . . books are hardly mentioned; whereas trains, airplanes, the automobile are gloried as tools and symbols of the modern age, libraries, like museums are to be burned. But it would be wrong to view this book-burning—an image inevitably associated for us with all too real subsequent occurences under totalitarian regimes—in sinister terms. The primary impulse of Futurism, indeed its raison d'être, was to shake Italy and Italians out of what Marinetti and his friends saw as a paralyzing obsession with the glories of the past. Passéism—a futurist coinage—was the enemy. A recent nation-state, far from unified within its own borders and unsure of its status among other European powers, Italy, in their view, needed to embrace modernity wholeheartedly; instead of looking at the past, with the inevitable result of an inferiority complex, it ought to confront the future, boldly assert its own creative voice. And books, in the development of which Renaissance Florentine, Milanese, and Ventian printers had played such a prominent part, were a thing of the past.

"Yet, paradoxically, Futurism was also a revolution of the book, and there rests, in fact, one of its greatest artistic legacies. This revolution, as in many other -isms of the twentieth-century, began as a revolution of the word, an opening up of language to all kinds of hitherto unexplored possibilities. But Futurism was much more than a literary movement: as much as the writing of the book and its contents, Futurist poets and artists were interested in its making—its design, thpography, printing, and final appearance. . . ." (Vincent Firoud, Marinetti's Metal Book. Code(x)+2 Monograph Series No. 1, Berkeley: Codex Foundation, 2012). 

Rainey, Poggi, Wittman (eds) Futurism: An Anthology (2009).

In January 2014 an English translation of Marinetti's first manifesto and a reproduction of its appearance in Le Figaro were available from Italianfuturism.org at this link.

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1910 – 1920

Incunable of Poetic and Typographic Experimentation of the 20th Century 1912 – 1914

Excerpted in journals between 1912 and 1914, Italian futurist Filippo Tommaso Marinetti's sound poem and concrete poem, Zang Tumb Tumb (usually referred to as Zang Tumb Tuuum), was published as an artist's book by Marinetti's publishing company, Edizioni Futuriste di "Poesia", in Milan in 1914. An account of the Battle of Adrianople, in October 1912 during the First Balkan War, which Marinetti witnessed as a reporter for the French newspaper L'Intransigneant, the poem used what Marinetti called Parole in libertà, (words in freedom)— radically creative typography, different typefaces, some hand-arranged, and of various sizes to show explosions of grenades and shots of the weapons. The text uses onomatopoeias to express the variety of sounds and noises of battle. including emulations of sounds of gunfire and the clatter of telegraphic messages being transmitted and received.

"In 1914, Marinetti put these theories [his theories of language and typography] into practice when he published Zamg Tumb Tuum, a book that has been called 'the incunable of the entire poetic experimentation of our century.'. . .  It in fact opens with the 'Destruction of Syntax' manifesto and ends with the 'Technical Manifesto.' . . .Marinetti translated his impression into a poetic prose which makes full use of both the new kind of writing and the typographical freedom he advocated, mixing letter sizes, bold type and italics, and introducing all kinds of typographical fantasies" (Vincent Giroud, Parole in Liberta. Marinetti's Metal Book. Code(x) +2 Monograph Series No.  [2102] 5).

The poem is read aloud in Italian in the video below:

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Marinetti's Manifesto of his Typographical Revolution May 11, 1913

In his manifesto of May 11, 1913, the title of which was translated into English as Destruction of Syntax—Radio Imagination—Words-in-Freedom, first published as an independent leaflet in Italian, futurist Filippo Tommaso Marinetti wrote in a section entitled "Typographical Revolution":

"I have initiated a typographical revolution directed against the bestial, nauseating sort of book that contains passéist poetry or verse à la D'Annunzio—handmade paper that imitates models of the seventeenth century, festooned with helmets, Minervas, Apollos, decorative capitals in red ink with loops and squiggles, vegetables, mythological ribbons from missals, epigraphs, and Roman numerals. The book must be the Futurist expression of Futurist thought. Not only that. My revolution is directed against the so-called typographical harmony of the page, which is contrary to the flux and reflux, the leaps and bursts of style that run through the page itself. For that reason we will use, in the very same page, three or four different colors of ink, and as many as twenty different tpographical fonts if necessary. For examples: italics for a series of swift or similar sensations, boldface for violent onomatopoeias, etc. The typographical revolution and the multicolored variety in the letters will mean that I can double the expressive force of words.

I oppose the decorative and precious asesthetic of Mallarmé and his search for the exotic word, the unique and irreplaceable, elegant, suggestive, exquisite adjective. I have no wish to suggest an idea of sensation by means of passéist graces and affectations: I want to seize them brutally and fling them in the reader's face.

I also oppose Mallarmé's static idea. The typographic revolution that I've proposed will enable me to imprint words (words already free, dynamic, torpedoing forward) every velocity of the stars, clouds, airplanes, trains, waves, explosives, drops of seafoam, molecules, and atoms.

And so I shall realize the fourth principle contained in my "First Manefesto of Futurism" (20 February 1909): 'We affirm that the beauty of the world has been enriched by a new form of beauty: the beauty of speed' " (Rainy, Poggi & Wittman eds., Futurism: An Anthology [2009] 149-50).

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William Brinton Issues "Graphic Methods for Presenting Facts", the First American Book on Information Graphics 1914

In 1914 Willard C. Brinton published Graphic Methods for Presenting Facts in New York at The Engineering Magazine Company. This was the first book on information graphics published in the United States.

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The Basis for Computed Tomography 1917

In 1917 Austrian mathematician Johann Radon, professor at Technische Universität Wien, introduced the Radon transform. He also demonstrated that the image of a three-dimensional object can be constructed from an infinite number of two-dimensional images of the object.

About sixty-five years later Radon's work was applied in the invention of computed tomography.

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1920 – 1930

Fortunato Depero's "Bolted Catalogue" of Futurist Graphics 1927

For the 1927 Biennale Internazionale delle Arti Decorative in Monza, Italy, Italian futurist painter, writer, sculptor and graphic designer, and industrial designer Fortunato Depero designed a Book Pavilion  for publishers Bestetti Treves Tumminelli, built entirely out of giant block letters. This was considered a significant architectural achievement. He also produced a lavish printed catalogue of his own graphic work from 1913 to 1927 entitled Depero futurista, reproduced both by letter press and photography. The book was bound in futurist style using two industrial bolts.

 "It featured for the first time a mechanical binding consisting of two bolts holding the pages together, as conceived by Fedele Azari, the publisher. Influenced by the focus on the machine that characterized Futurism in the early 1920s, this book should be considered a manifesto of the Machine Age. However, Depero's innovation was not confined to the cover; the inside text features a wealth of typographic inventions including the use of different typefaces, the text formed into various shapes, the use of different papers and colours, and several other devices.

"After seeing this book, Kurt Schwitters wanted to meet Depero and enthusiastically showed his copy to every visitor to his personal library. This book was published in an edition of 1000 copies, most of which bear a stamp of the number of the copy. The edition, showed at least three different front pages with different color prints. There are four or five copies with a metal binding -- books of great rarity but of minor visual impact. Finally, there were even four to five copies provided with a box case expressly designed by the author.... " (http://www.colophon.com/gallery/futurism/1.html, accessed 01-03-2014).

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1930 – 1940

Marinetti's Metal Book: "Parole in Liberta . . ." 1932

Five years after Fortunato Depero issued his sensational Depero futurista, a "mechanical" book full of futurist poetry and graphics that featured a binding held together with two machined bolts, in 1932 Italian poet and editor Filippo Tommaso Marinetti introduced his definitive model of the mechanical book, Parole in libertà: olfattive, tattili, termichea collection of his poetry, designed by futurist artist Tullio Mazzoti, better known by his pseudonym, Tullio d'Albisola, and produced by industrialist Vincenzo Nosenzo. Nosenzo owned a tin can factory in Zinola, a suburb of Savona, and had perfected and patented a method of lithographing on tin, called "lito-latta," the English translation of which would be "lithotin." Publication was shared by Nosenzo's firm, Lito-Latta in Savona (Nosenzo's imprint), which was responsible for the book's production, and Marinetti's Futurist publishing house "Poesia" in Rome. Thus, while Depero's book was printed on paper, Marinetti's book was printed entirely on tin sheets, reflective of the materials and textures of the Machine Age. It was also intended to be an imperishable book. The book's content was also innovative, as Marinetti introduced new references between words and physical interaction with olfactory, tactile, and thermal sensations.

Copies of Marinetti's metal book weigh 852 grams, not including the slipcase. Though dimensions apparently vary from copy to copy, its 15 sheets of tin are typically 24 x 24 centimeters, bound with a tubular aluminum spine, on which they rotate on metal wire spindles attached at head and foot—a feat of book engineering credited to Nosenzo. The tin leaves are extremely thin (no more than 1 mm each), and to prevent cuts they are very slightly folded on their edges.

"Notwithstanding its unusual components and the originality of Tullio's design, the Metal Book features all the elements we expect to find in a book. It has a front and a back cover, the front cover doubling as a title page; three preliminary 'leaves,' including copyright page, frontispiece, and dedication page (not necessarily found in this order from copy to copy); a body of text, comprising nine leaves printed on both sides; and an advertisement and table of contents at the end. None of the 28 'pages' is paginated" (Vincent Giroud, Parole in Liberta. Marinetti's Metal Book. Berkeley: Codex Foundation Code(x) +2 Monograph Series No. 1, 2012).

The edition was 101 unnumbered copies, of which 50 were for sale, and the rest for presentation. "A unique copy was printed on paper, comprising a different title page (with the imprint of the Edizioni Futuriste di 'Poesi'), the copyright page, a different frontispiece portrait of Marinett (wearing his Accademia d'Italia uniform), the deication page, the nine poems as printed in the Metal Book (but without any of the typographical plates), and the table. Measuring 34 x 31.5 cm., this unicum is bound in a full red and green leather binding held together, in the manner of Depero futurista, with five bolts— one of which is now missing. Destined for Marinetti, and inscribed to him by Tullio and Nosenzo on 5 December 1932, it is now in the Beinecke Library, where a significant part of Marinetti's library now rests" (Giroud, op.cit., 20-21).  

In January 2014 digital images of Yale's complete tin copy were available from the Beinicke Library at this link.

As a companion to Giroud's study of Marinetti's Metal Book, fine printer Peter Koch and the Codex Foundation also issued in 2012, as No. 2 in the Code(x) +2 Monograph Series, a reduced-format color reproduction of the copy at Yale. The reproduction is entirely printed on black paper to emphasize the metallic aspects. This also reproduces the very rare slipcase, missing from some copies. In my opinion Giroud's 22-page essay, and its companion reproduction, are among the most interesting studies of an individual publication.

In 2009 the British Library acquired a copy of Marinetti's metal book for £83,000.

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Invention of the Sociogram: Some of the Earliest Graphic Depictions of Social Networks April 3, 1933 – 1934

On April 3, 1933 The New York Times published an article entitled and summarized in sub-headings, as follows: "Emotions Mapped by New Geography: Charts seem to Portray the Psychological Currents of Human Relationships. FIRST STUDIES EXHIBITED. Colored Lines Show Likes and Dislikes of Individuals and of Groups. MANY MISFITS REVEALED. Dr. J.L. Moreno Calculates There Are 10 to 15 Million Isolated Individuals In Nation." The article reported on an interview with Romanian-born Austrian-American psychiatrist, psychosociologist, and group psychotherapy pioneer Jacob L Moreno. This article contained the first reproduction of one of Moreno's sociograms—an early network visualization.

The following year Moreno published a book entitled Who Shall Survive? A New Approach to the Problem of Human Interrelations in Washington, D.C. Apart from its psychiatric and sociological significance, this work contained some of the earliest graphic depictions of social networks— data visualization methods later applied to numerous other disciplines. These images were later called sociograms. For a second edition published in New York in 1953 Moreno revised the title to Who Shall Survive? Foundations of Sociometry, Group Psychotherapy and Sociodrama

Lima, Visual Complexity. Mapping Patterns of Information (2011) 75-76.

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Otto Bettman Founds The Bettmann Archive: the Beginning of "The Visual Age" 1938

The Bettmann Archive, founded in New York in 1936 by Otto Bettmann, a refugee from Nazi Germany, contained 15,000 images by 1938.  Bettmann later characterized this period of time as "the beginning of the visual age." By 1980, the year before Bettmann sold the archive to the Kraus-Thomson Organization, the archive contained 2,000,000 images, carefully selected for their historical value, mainly under the five categories of world events, personalities, lifestyles, advertising art, and art and illustrations.

In 1984 the Kraus-Thomson Organization acquired the extensive United Press International (UPI) collection, containing millions of worldwide news and lifestyle photographs taken by photographers working for United Press International, International News Photos, Acme Newspictures, and Pacific and Atlantic.

In 1995 Corbis, a company controlled by Bill Gates, bought the Bettmann Archive.

"Beginning in 1997, Corbis spent five years selecting images of maximum historical value and saleability for digitization. More than 1.3 million images (26% of the collection) have been edited and 225,000 have been digitized. Because of this effort, more images from the Bettmann Archive are available now than ever before.

"In 2002, the Archive was moved to a state-of-the-art, sub-zero film preservation facility in western Pennsylvania. The 10,000-square-foot underground storage facility is environmentally-controlled, with specific conditions (minus -20°C, relative humidity of 35%) calculated to preserve prints, color transparencies, negatives, photographs, enclosures, and indexing systems" (http://www.corbis.com/BettMann100/Archive/Preservation.asp, accessed 01-17-2010).

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One of the First "Maps of Science" 1939

In 1939 British physicist, x-ray crystallographer, molecular biologist, historian and sociologist of science John Desmond Bernal published The Social Function of Science in London. This pioneering sociological study work contained two large folding information graphics. The first was one of the first attempts at a "map of science." It divided science into physical, biological, and social sectors and distinguished between fundamental and technical research.

Börner, Atlas of Science: Visualizing What We Know (2010) 11.

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1940 – 1950

Borges' Universe as a Library, or Universal Library or Archive 1941

In 1941 Argentine writer and librarian Jorge Luis Borges published the short story La biblioteca de Babel (The Library of Babel) in his collection of stories entitled El Jardín de senderos que se bifurcan (The Garden of Forking Paths) in Buenos-Aires through the publishing house of Editorial Sur. 

In 1944 the entire 1941 book was included in his Ficciones (1944), through which it received much larger circulation. In 1962 two different English-language translations of The Library of Babel appeared: one by James E. Irby in a collection of Borges's works entitled Labyrinths and the other by Anthony Kerrigan as part of a collaborative translation of the Ficciones. A new translation by Andrew Hurley appeared in 1998 as part of a translation of the Collected Fictions. Hurley's translation of The Library of Babel was republished separately in 2000 by David R. Godine with reproductions of eleven etchings by Erik Desmazières illustrating Borges' text.

Borges' story of a universe in the form of a library, or an imaginary universal library, has been viewed as a fictional or philosophical predictor of characteristics and criticisms of the Internet.

"Borges's narrator describes how his universe consists of an endless expanse of interlocking hexagonal rooms, each of which contains the bare necessities for human survival—and four walls of bookshelves. Though the order and content of the books is random and apparently completely meaningless, the inhabitants believe that the books contain every possible ordering of just a few basic characters (letters, spaces and punctuation marks). Though the majority of the books in this universe are pure gibberish, the library also must contain, somewhere, every coherent book ever written, or that might ever be written, and every possible permutation or slightly erroneous version of every one of those books. The narrator notes that the library must contain all useful information, including predictions of the future, biographies of any person, and translations of every book in all languages. Conversely, for many of the texts some language could be devised that would make it readable with any of a vast number of different contents.

"Despite — indeed, because of — this glut of information, all books are totally useless to the reader, leaving the librarians in a state of suicidal despair. However, Borges speculates on the existence of the 'Crimson Hexagon', containing a book that contains the log of all the other books; the librarian who reads it is akin to God" (Wikipedia article on The Library of Babel, accessed 05-25-2009).

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Key Developments in Jay W. Forrester's Project Whirlwind 1943

In 1943 Project Whirlwind began as an analog flight simulator project at MIT. About November 1945 the project switched from analog to digital electronics. Formal design of the machine began in 1947.

By 1950 Project Whirlwind was in limited operation at MIT as a general purpose computer. It was the first computer that operated in real time, with the first video display for output, and it was the first computer that was not just an electronic replacement of older mechanical systems. On April 20, 1951 Whirlwind offically began operation at MIT. Whirlwind I included the first primitive graphical display on its vectorscope screen.

In 1952 three-dimensional magnetic-core memory replaced electrostatic memory on the Whirlwind I, leading to increased performance and reliability. 

In 1954 programmers J. H. Laning and Neil Zierler developed an algebraic compiler for theWhirlwind I—the first high-level algebraic language for a computer.

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Dennis Gabor Invents Holography 1947

In 1947 Hungarian electrical engineer and physicist Dennis Gabor, working at British Thomson-Houston, Rugby, England invented holography.

"Holography is a technique that allows the light scattered from an object to be recorded and later reconstructed so that it appears as if the object is in the same position relative to the recording medium as it was when recorded. The image changes as the position and orientation of the viewing system changes in exactly the same way as if the object was still present, thus making the recorded image (hologram) appear three dimensional. Holograms can also be made using other types of waves. The technique of holography can also be used to optically store, retrieve, and process information. While holography is commonly used to display static 3-D pictures, it is not yet possible to generate arbitrary scenes by a holographic volumetric display" (Wikipedia article on holography, accessed 04-26-2009).

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1950 – 1960

The Earliest Pioneer in Electronic Art 1950 – 1953

In 1950 American draftsman, graphic artist and mathematician Benjamin (Ben) F. Laposky of Cherokee, Iowa, first used a cathode ray oscilloscope with sine wave generators and various other electrical and electronic circuits to create abstract art, which he called "electrical compositions." The electrical vibrations shown on the screen of the oscilloscope, which included Lissajous figures, he recorded by still photography. Some of Laposky's images were published in Scripta Mathematica in 1952.

In 1953 Laposky exhibited fifty images that called "Oscillons" (or oscillogram designs) at the Sanford Museum in Cherokee, Iowa. To record this exhibition and Laposky's statements of his artistic philosophy the museum published an exhibition catalogue entitled electronic abstractions. Because of this exhibition Laposky is credited as the earliest pioneer in electronic art, more specifically in the analog vector medium. In later work Laposky also incorporated motorized rotating filters of variable speed to color the patterns. He never programmed computers to create images.

A version of Laposky's electronic abstractions show was exhibited across the United States, in France at LeMons, and other places by the Cultural Relations Section of the United States from 1953 to 1961.

In later work Laposky incorporated motorized rotating filters of variable speed to color the patterns, recording the images by color photography.

Herzogenrath & Nierhoff-Wielk, Ex Machina–Frühe Computergrafik bis 1979. Ex Machina-Early Computer Graphics up to 1979 (2007) 229.

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"Can Man Build a Superman?" January 23, 1950

The cover by Boris Artzybasheff on the January 23, 1950 issue of TIME Magazine depicted the Harvard Mark III partly electronic and partly electromechanical computer as a Naval officer in Artzybasheff's "bizarrely anthropomorphic" style. The caption under the image read, "Mark III. Can Man Build a Superman?" The cover story of the magazine was entitled "The Thinking Machine."

The Mark III, delivered to U.S. Naval Proving Ground at the US Navy base at Dahlgren, Virginia in March 1950, operated at 250 times the speed of the Harvard Mark I (1944). 

Among its interesting elements,  the Time article included an early use of the word computer for machines rather than people. The review of Wiener's Cybernetics published in TIME in December 1948, referred to the machines as calculators.

"What Is Thinking? Do computers think? Some experts say yes, some say no. Both sides are vehement; but all agree that the answer to the question depends on what you mean by thinking.

"The human brain, some computermen explain, thinks by judging present information in the light of past experience. That is roughly what the machines do. They consider figures fed into them (just as information is fed to the human brain by the senses), and measure the figures against information that is "remembered." The machine-radicals ask: 'Isn't this thinking?'

"Their opponents retort that computers are mere tools that do only what they are told. Professor [Howard] Aiken, a leader of the conservatives, admits that the machines show, in rudimentary form at least, all the attributes of human thinking except one: imagination. Aiken cannot define imagination, but he is sure that it exists and that no machine, however clever, is likely to have any."

"Nearly all the computermen are worried about the effect the machines will have on society. But most of them are not so pessimistic as [Norbert] Wiener. Professor Aiken thinks that computers will take over intellectual drudgery as power-driven tools took over spading and reaping. Already the telephone people are installing machines of the computer type that watch the operations of dial exchanges and tot up the bills of subscribers.

"Psychotic Robots. In the larger, "biological" sense, there is room for nervous speculation. Some philosophical worriers suggest that the computers, growing superhumanly intelligent in more & more ways, will develop wills, desires and unpleasant foibles' of their own, as did the famous robots in Capek's R.U.R.

"Professor Wiener says that some computers are already "human" enough to suffer from typical psychiatric troubles. Unruly memories, he says, sometimes spread through a machine as fears and fixations spread through a psychotic human brain. Such psychoses may be cured, says Wiener, by rest (shutting down the machine), by electric shock treatment (increasing the voltage in the tubes), or by lobotomy (disconnecting part of the machine).

"Some practical computermen scoff at such picturesque talk, but others recall odd behavior in their own machines. Robert Seeber of I.B.M. says that his big computer has a very human foible: it hates to wake up in the morning. The operators turn it on, the tubes light up and reach a proper temperature, but the machine is not really awake. A problem sent through its sleepy wits does not get far. Red lights flash, indicating that the machine has made an error. The patient operators try the problem again. This time the machine thinks a little more clearly. At last, after several tries, it is fully awake and willing to think straight.

"Neurotic Exchange. Bell Laboratories' Dr. [Claude] Shannon has a similar story. During World War II, he says, one of the Manhattan dial exchanges (very similar to computers) was overloaded with work. It began to behave queerly, acting with an irrationality that disturbed the company. Flocks of engineers, sent to treat the patient, could find nothing organically wrong. After the war was over, the work load decreased. The ailing exchange recovered and is now entirely normal. Its trouble had been 'functional': like other hard-driven war workers, it had suffered a nervous breakdown" (quotations from http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,858601-7,00.html, accessed 03-05-2009).

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Probably the First Computer-Controlled Aesthetic System 1953 – 1957

Between 1953 and 1957 English cybernetician and psychologist Gordon Pask, in collaboration with Robin McKinnon-Wood, created Musicolour, a reactive system for theatre productions, or a computer-controlled aesthetic system, that "drove an array of lights that adapted to a musician's performance" (Mason, a computer in the art room. the origins of british computer arts 1950-1980 [2008] 6). This was one of the earliest examples of "computer art." The system's analog computer was transported from performance to performance.

Pask discussed and explained Musicolour in A comment, a case history and a plan (1968) written before the Cybernetic Serendipity exhibition (1968) in which Musicolour was demonstrated. However the text was not published in the catalogue of that exhibition. It was first published in Reichardt ed., Cybernetics: Art and Ideas (1971) 76-99.

Pickering, The Cybernetic Brain. Sketches of Another Future (2010) 313-324.

(This entry was last revised on 08-14-2014.)

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SAGE: Physically the Largest Computers Ever Built 1957

In 1957 the first SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment)  AN/FSQ-7 (DC-01) computer was operational on a limited basis for the SAGE Air Defense System at McGuire Air Force Base in Burlington County, New Jersey.  Twenty AN/FSQ-7s would eventually be built. The AN/FSQ-7 computer contained 55,000 vacuum tubes, occupied 0.5 acres (2,000 m2) of of floor space, weighed 275 tons, and used up to three megawatts of power. Performance was about 75,000 instructions per second. From the standpoint of physical dimensions, the fifty-two AN/FSQ-7s remain the largest computers ever built.  

"Although the machines used a large number of vacuum tubes, the failure rate of an individual tube was low due to efforts in quality control and a novel quality assurance system called marginal checking that discovered tubes that were growing weak, before they failed. Each SAGE site included two computers for redundancy, with one processor on "hot standby" at all times. In spite of the poor reliability of the tubes, this dual-processor design made for remarkably high overall system uptime. 99% availability was not unusual."

The system allowed online access, in graphical form, to data transmitted to and processed by its computers. Fully deployed by 1963, the IBM-built early warning system remained operational until 1984. With 23 direction centers situated on the northern, eastern, and western boundaries of the United States, SAGE pioneered the use of computer control over large, geographically distributed systems.

"Both MIT and IBM supported the project as contractors. IBM's role in SAGE (the design and manufacture of the AN/FSQ-7 computer, a vacuum tube computer with ferrite core memory based on the never-built Whirlwind II) was an important factor leading to IBM's domination of the computer industry, accounting for more than a half billion dollars in revenue, nearly 10% of IBM's income in the late 1950s" (Wikipedia article on Semi-Automatic Ground Environment, accessed 03-03-2012).

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Invention of the Image Scanner; Creation of the First Digital Image 1957

In 1957 Russell A. Kirsch and a team at the U.S. National Bureau of Standards, using the SEAC computer, built the first image scanner—a drum scanner. Using that device they took the first digital photograph: 

"The first image ever scanned on this machine was a 5 cm square photograph of Kirsch's then-three-month-old son, Walden. The black and white image had a resolution of 176 pixels on a side" (Wikipedia article on Image Scanner, accessed 04-01-2009).

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Animated Title Sequence by Electromechanical Analog Computer 1958

Title sequence from Vertigo; titles designed by Saul Bass; spirographic images contributed by John Whitney.

In the late 1950s American animator, composer and inventor John Whitney a WWII vintage Kerrison Predictor electromechanical analog computer at an army surplus store. He connected the electrical outputs to servos controlling the positioning of small lit targets and light bulbs. Whitney's next step was to modify the "mathematics" of the system to move the targets in various mathematically controlled ways, a technique he referred to as incremental drift. As the power of the systems grew they eventually evolved into what is today known as motion control photography, a widely used technique in special effects filming.

Probably Whitney's best known work from this early period was the animated title sequence from Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 film Vertigo, on which Whitney collaborated with graphic designer Saul Bass.

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The TX-2 Computer for the Study of Human-Computer Interaction 1959

In 1959 Wesley A. Clark designed and built the TX-2 computer at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Massachusetts. It had 320 kilobytes of fast memory, about twice the capacity of the biggest commercial machines. Other features were magnetic tape storage, an online typewriter, the first Xerox printer, paper tape for program input, and a nine inch CRT screen. Among its applications were development of interactive graphics and research on human-computer interaction.

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1960 – 1970

William Fetter Coins the Term "Computer Graphics" 1960

William A Fetter: while working for Boeing, made the first computer model of the human body ("Boeing Man"), and coined the term computer graphics.

In 1960 William A. Fetter, an art director at The Boeing Company in Seattle, Washington, coined the term “computer graphics.” With Walter Bernhardt, assistant professor of applied mechanics from Wichita State University, Kansas, Fetter outlined a new concept of perspective which Bernhardt converted to mathematics. The same year Boeing established a formal research program to determine how computing technology could be used for design.

See also the entry on "Boeing Man."

(This entry was last revised on 10-18-2014.)

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Licklider & Clark Publish "Online Man-Computer Communication" Circa June 1962

About June 1962 J.C.R. Licklider of Bolt, Baranek, and Newman and Welden E. Clark published “Online Man-Computer Communication,” calling for time-sharing of computers, for graphic displays of information, and the need for an improved graphical interface. (See Reading 10.6.)

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Among the Beginnings of Computer Art in the United States August 28, 1962

"During the summer of 1962, A. Michael Noll . . . had an assignment working in the research division of Bell Telephone Laboratories, where he was employed as a Member of Technical Staff. His summer project involved the programming of a new method for the determination of the pitch of human speech – the short-term cepstrum. The results of the computer calculations were plotted on the Stromberg Carlson SC-4020 microfilm plotter.

"The SC-4020 plotter had a cathode ray tube that was photographed automatically with a 35-mm camera. The SC-4020 was intended as a high-speed printer in which the electron beam was passed through a character mask and the shaped beam positioned on the screen while the shutter of the camera remained open. The staff of the computer center wrote a FORTRAN software package to interface with the SC-4020 in positioning the electron beam to draw images on the screen, mostly plots of scientific data, with a 1024-by-1024 resolution.

"A colleague (Elwyn Berlekamp) had a programming error that produced a graphic mess on the plotter, which he comically called 'computer art.' Noll decided to program the computer to create art deliberately, drawing on his past training in drawing and interests in abstract painting. He described [and illustrated] the results in an internal published Technical Memorandum 'Patterns by 7090' dated August 28, 1962.

"Noll’s early pieces combined mathematical equations with pseudo randomness. Today his work would be called programmed computer art or algorithmic art. Much art is produced today by drawing and painting directly on the screen of the computer using programs designed expressly for such purposes.

"Two early works by Noll were 'Gaussian-Quadratic' and 'Vertical Horizontal Number Three.' Stimulated by 'op art,' he created 'Ninety Parallel Sinusoids' as a computer version of Bridget Riley’s 'Currents.' Noll believed that in the computer, the artist had a new artistic partner. Noll used FORTRAN and subroutine packages he wrote using FORTRAN for all his art and animation" (A. Michael Noll, "First Hand: Early Digital Art at Bell Telephone Laboratories, Inc., accessed 01-19-2014).

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General Motors and IBM Develop the First CAD Program December 1962

In December 1962 DAC-1 (Design Augmented by Computers), the first computer-assisted design (CAD) program, was demonstrated. Development of the program began in 1959 as a joint effort between General Motors in Detroit and IBM. 

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Edward Zajac Produces the First Computer-Animated Film 1963

In 1963 Edward E. Zajac at Bell Labs, Murray Hill, New Jersey, produced the first computer-animated film, a 1.25 minute film entitled Simultation of Two-Gyro Gravity-Gradient Attitude Control System to define how a particular type of satellite would move through space. The film, also narrated by Zajac, simulated the motion and autorotation of a communication satellite as a succession of single phases.   

"Zajac programmed the calculations in FORTRAN, then used a program written by Zajac's colleague, Frank Sinden, called ORBIT. The original computations were fed into the computer via punch cards, then the output was printed onto microfilm using the General Dynamics Electronics Stromberg-Carlson 4020 microfilm recorder. All computer processing was done on an IBM 7090 or 7094 series computer" (http://techchannel.att.com/play-video.cfm/2012/7/18/AT&T-Archives-First-Computer-Generated-Graphics-Film, accessed 01-19-2014).

In 1964 Zajac published "Computer-Made Perspective Movies as a Scientific and Communication Tool," Communications of the ACM 7 no. 3 (March 1964) 169-170. Two years later he published, "Film Animation by Computer," New Scientist 29 (1966) 346-49, which described the making of Two-Gyro Gravity-Gradient Attitude Control System. This article also incorporated illustrations from Kenneth C. Knowlton's "A Computer technique for Producing Animated Movies," AFIPS '64 (Spring) Proceedings of the April 21-23, 1964 Spring Joint Computer Conference, 67-87.  My copy of Zajac's article was reprinted as Bell Telephone System Techical Publications Monograph 5150 (April, 1966).

Franke, Computer Graphics, Computer Art (1971) 93.

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Ivan Sutherland Creates the First Graphical User Interface 1963

In 1963 Ivan Sutherland, a student at MIT's Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Massachusetts, working on the experimental TX- 2 computer, created the first graphical user interface, or first interactive graphics program, in his Ph.D. thesis, Sketchpad: A Man-Machine Graphical Communication System. 

Sketchpad was an early application of vector graphics.

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Using his BEFLIX Computer Animation Language, Ken Knowlton Produces "A Computer Technique for the Production of Animated Movies" 1963 – 1966

In 1963, Kenneth C. Knowlton, working at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, NJ, developed the BEFLIX (Bell Flicks) programming language for bitmap computer-produced movies, using an IBM 7094 computer and a Stromberg-Carlson 4020 microfilm recorder. This was the first computer animation language. Each frame created with BEFLIX contained eight shades of grey and a resolution of 252 x 184. Using this technique, Knowlton in 1963 created a 10 minute 16mm silent film entitled A Computer Technique for the Production of Animated Movies.  

At the Spring Joint Computer Conference of AFIPS, on April 21-23, 1964 Knowlton delivered a paper entitled, appropriately enough, "A computer technique for producing animated movies." This was published in the Proceedings on pp. 67-87. The paper reproduced some images from Knowlton's film and indicated that the film could be borrowed from Bell Labs. Most of the paper reproduced programming code in Beflix.

The following year published "Computer-Produced Movies. A computer-controlled display tube and camera can produce animated movies quickly and economically," Science 150 (November 16, 1965) 1116-1120. This was offprinted as Bell Telephone System Technical Publications Monograph 5112.

And, in 1966 Knowlton published "Computer-Generated Movies, Designs and Diagrams," Design Quarterly, No. 66/67, Design and the Computer (1966), 58-63.

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Machine Perception of Three Dimensional Solids May 1963 – 1965

In May 1963 computer scientist Lawrence G. Roberts published Machine Perception of Three Dimensional Solids, MIT Lincoln Laboratory Report, TR 315, May 1963. This contained "the first algorithm to eliminate hidden or obscured surfaces from a perspective picture" (Carlson, A Critical History of Computer Graphics and Animation, accessed 05-30-2009).

In 1965, Roberts implemented a homogeneous coordinate scheme for transformations and perspective,  publishing Homogenous Matrix Representation and Manipulation of N-Dimensional Constructs, MIT MS-1505. Roberts's "solutions to these problems prompted attempts over the next decade to find faster algorithms for generating hidden surfaces" (Carlson, op. cit.).

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The First to Create Three-Dimensional Images of the Human Body Using a Computer 1964

"Boeing Man" or "Human Figure," a wireframe drawing printed on a Gerber Plotter.  It was used as a standard figure of a pilot.

In 1964 William A. Fetter, an art director at The Boeing Company in Seattle, Washington, supervised development of a  computer program that allowed him to create the first three-dimensional images of the human body through computer graphics. Using this program Fetter and his team produced the first computer model of a human figure for use in the study of aircraft cockpit design. It was called the “First Man” or "Boeing Man." Though Fetter's wire frame drawings could be called commercial art, they were of a high aesthetic standard.

Herzogenrath & Nierhoff-Wielk, Ex-Machina–Frühe Computergrafik bis 1979. Die Sammlunge Franke. . . . Ex-Machina– Early Computer Graphics up to 1979 (2007) 239.

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Bitzer & Willson Invent the First Plasma Video Display (Neon Orange) 1964

In 1964 Donald Bitzer, H. Gene Slottow, and Robert Willson at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign invented the first plasma video display for the PLATO Computer System.

The display was monochrome neon orange and incorporated both memory and bitmapped graphics. Built by Owens-Illinois glass, the flat panels were marketed under the name "Digivue."

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The Rand Tablet: One of the Earliest Tablet Computers and the First Reference to Electronic Ink August 1964

In August 1964 M. R. Davis and T. O. Ellis of The Rand Corporation, Santa Monica, California, published The RAND Tablet: A Machine Graphical Communication DeviceThey indicated that the device had been in use since 1963.

"The RAND table is believed to be the first such graphic device that is digital, is relatively low-cost, possesses excellent linearity, and is able to uniquely describe 10 [to the 6th power] locations in the 10" x 10" active table area. . . . the tablet has great potential no only in such applications as digitizing map information, but also as a working tool in the study of more esoteric applications of graphical languages for man-machine interaction. . . . " (p.iv)

"The RAND tablet device generates 10-bit x and 10-bit y stylus position information. It is connected to an input channel of a general-purpose computer and also to an oscilloscope display. The display control multiplexes the stylus position information with computer-generated information in such a way that the oscilloscope display contains a composite of the current pen position (represented as a dot) and the computer output. In addition, the computer may regenerate meaningful track history on the CRT, so that while the user is writing, it appears that the pen has "ink." This displayed "ink" is visualized from the oscilloscope display while hand-directing the stylus position on the tablet. users normally adjust within a few minutes to the conceptual superposition of the displayed ink and the actual off-screen pen movement. There is no apparent loss of ease or speed in writing, printing, constructing arbitrary figures, or even in penning one's signature" (pp. 2-3).

J. W. Ward, History of Pen Computing: Annotated Bibliography in On-line Character Recognition and Pen Computing: http://rwservices.no-ip.info:81/pens/biblio70.html#DavisMR64 , accessed 12-30-2009).

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William Fetter Issues the First Book on Computer Graphics 1965

Example of image from Computer Graphics in Communication.  Please click to view larger image.

Detail of cover of Computer Graphics in Communication. Please click to see entire image.

Detail of title page of Computer Graphics in Communication. Please click to see entire image.

William Fetter taken when he worked at Boeing.

In 1965 William A. Fetter of The Boeing Company in Seattle, Washington, issued the first book on computer graphics: Computer Graphics in Communication. This 110-page work with nearly 100 illustrations may be the first monograph illustrated with computer graphics. Fetter had coined the term "computer graphics" in 1960. The book was "Written for the Course Content Development Study in Engineering Graphics Supported by the National Science Foundation September, 1964." As a reflection of the novelty of its topic, the book contained a bibliography of seven references but stated that none were used directly in its development.

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Michael Noll's "Human or Machine" : Comparing Computer-Generated Art with Human Created Art 1965 – 1966

In 1965 A. Michael Noll, American electrical engineer and pioneer computer artist at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, New Jersey, created Computer Composition With Lines. He generated the art work algorithmically with pseudo-random processes to mimic Piet Mondrian’s Composition With Lines (1917). In what became a classic experiment in aesthetics, copies of both works were shown to people, a majority of whom expressed a preference for the computer work and thought it was by Mondrian. The work won first prize in August 1965 in the contest held by Computers and Automation magazine.

The following year Noll published an illustrated account of the production of this pioneering work of computer art and its perception: "Human or Machine: A Subjective Comparison of Piet Mondrian's 'Composition with Lines' (1917) and a Computer-Generated Picture," The Psychological Record 16 (1966) 1-10.

In January 2014 Noll published an authoritative, illustrated, and thoroughly documented historical paper on computer art done at Bell Labs from 1962 to 1968 entitled "First-Hand: Early Digital Art at Bell Telephone Laboratories, Inc." on the website of the IEEE Global History Network.

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The Earliest Public Exhibitions of Computer Art February 5 – November 26, 1965

The first public exhibitions of computer art were:

Feb 5-19, 1965:

Generative Computergrafik. Studien-Galerie des Studium Generale, Technische Hochschule Stuttgart. held by Frieder Nake and Georg Nees. Opened by Max Bense.  

Apr 6-24, 1965:

Computer-generated pictures. Howard Wise Gallery, New York, held by A. Michael Noll, Bela Julesz, both of whom worked at Bell Labs. The announcement for the show was a small deck of colored IBM punch cards.

"The agreement was that any profits from the sale of the works would be split between the Wise Gallery and either Julesz or Noll. In the end, not a single work was sold" (Noll, First-Hand: Early Digital Art at Bell Telephone Laboratories, Inc., accessed 01-19-2014).

Nov 5-26, 1965:

Computergrafik. Galerie Wendelin Niedlich, Stuttgart. held by Frieder Nake and Georg Nees. Opened by Max Bense.

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Walter Allner Designs the First Magazine Cover Using Computer Graphics July 1965

Detail of cover of the July 1965 issue of Fortune.  Please click to see entire image.

The color cover of the July 1965 issue of Fortune magazine was the first magazine cover designed using computer graphics, though the editor and designer made not have been aware of that at the time. The cover reproduced a photograph of graphics displayed on a computer screen. Two color filters made the computer image appear in color.  On p. 2 of the issue the magazine explained their cover as follows:

"This cover is the first in Fortune's thirty-five years to have been executed wholly by machine— a PDP-1 computer manufactured by Digital Equipment Corp., and loaned to Fortune by Bolt Beranek & Newman Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts. The myriad arrows photographed in upward flight across the machine's oscilloscope symbolize the predominant direction of corporate statistics in 1964, while the large, glowing numeral [500] represents the number of companies catalogued in the Directory of the 500 Largest Industrial Corporations. . . ."

On p. 97 editor Duncan Norton-Taylor devoted his monthly column to the cover, writing:

"In the course of events, Fortune's art director, Walter Allner, might have frowned on filling the column at left with an array of abbreviations and figures, for Allner is no man to waste space on uninspired graphics. But these figures are his special brain children. They are the instructions that told a PDP-1 computer how to generate the design on this month's cover. This program was 'written' to Allner's specifications and punched into an eight-channel paper tape by Sanford Libman and John Price, whose interest in art and electronics developed at M.I.T.

"Generating the design on an oscilloscope and photographing required about three hours of computer time and occupied Price, Allner, and Libman until four one morning. Multiple exposure through two filters added color to the electron tube's glow. . . . 

"Walter Allner was born in Dessau, Germany. He studied at the Bauhaus-Dessau under Josef Albers, Vasily Kandinsky, and Paul Klee. . . . 

"Allner confesses to certain misgivings about teaching the PDP-1 computer too much about Fortune cover design, but adds, philosophically: 'If the computer puts art directors out of work, I'll at least have had some on-the-job training as a design-machine programer [sic]."

Herzogenrath & Nierhoff-Wielk, Ex Machina—Frühe Computergrafik bis 1979. Ex Machina—Early Computer Graphics up to 1978 (2007) 243.

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Aaron Klug Invents Digital Image Processing 1966

In 1966 English molecular biologist Aaron Klug at the University of Cambridge formulated a method for digital image processing of two-dimensional images.

A. Klug and D. J. de Rosier, “Optical filtering of electron micrographs: Reconstruction of one-sided images,” Nature 212 (1966): 29-32.

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Cyrus Levinthal Builds the First System for Interactive Display of Molecular Structures 1966

In 1966, using the Project MAC, an early time-sharing system at MIT, Cyrus Levinthal built the first system for the interactive display of molecular structures

"This program allowed the study of short-range interaction between atoms and the "online manipulation" of molecular structures. The display terminal (nicknamed Kluge) was a monochrome oscilloscope (figures 1 and 2), showing the structures in wireframe fashion (figures 3 and 4). Three-dimensional effect was achieved by having the structure rotate constantly on the screen. To compensate for any ambiguity as to the actual sense of the rotation, the rate of rotation could be controlled by globe-shaped device on which the user rested his/her hand (an ancestor of today's trackball). Technical details of this system were published in 1968 (Levinthal et al.). What could be the full potential of such a set-up was not completely settled at the time, but there was no doubt that it was paving the way for the future. Thus, this is the conclusion of Cyrus Levinthal's description of the system in Scientific American (p. 52):

It is too early to evaluate the usefulness of the man-computer combination in solving real problems of molecular biology. It does seems likely, however, that only with this combination can the investigator use his "chemical insight" in an effective way. We already know that we can use the computer to build and display models of large molecules and that this procedure can be very useful in helping us to understand how such molecules function. But it may still be a few years before we have learned just how useful it is for the investigator to be able to interact with the computer while the molecular model is being constructed.

"Shortly before his death in 1990, Cyrus Levinthal penned a short biographical account of his early work in molecular graphics. The text of this account can be found here."

In January 2014 two short films produced with the interactive molecular graphics and modeling system devised by Cyrus Levinthal and his collaborators in the mid-1960s was available at this link.

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"Bobb Goldsteinn" Coins the Term Multimedia July 1966

American showman, songwriter, and artist Bobb Goldsteinn (Bob Goldstein) coined the term multimedia to promote the July 1966 opening of his "LightWorks at L'Oursin" show at Southampton, Long Island, New York.

"On August 10, 1966, Richard Albarino of Variety borrowed the terminology, reporting: 'Brainchild of songscribe-comic Bob (‘Washington Square’) Goldstein, the ‘Lightworks’ is the latest multi-media music-cum-visuals to debut as discothèque fare' " (Wikipedia article on Multimedia, accessed 08-29-2010).

The evolving concept of multimedia involves combinations of text, still images, video, animation, sound, and interactivity. Thus, technically an illustrated book could be considered a multimedia object with a combination of texts and images; however, multimedia primarily implies combinations of electronic media.

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Jacques Bertin's "Sémiologie graphique" is Published 1967 – 1983

In 1967 French cartographer and theorist of information graphics Jacques Bertin published Sémiologie graphique. Les diagrammes, les réseaux, les cartes in Paris at the press of Gauthier-Villars. This book provided the first theoretical foundation for information graphics: a systematic classification of the use of visual elements to display data and relationships, primarily in static graphics. Bertin's system consisted of seven visual variables: position, form (shape), orientation, color (hue), texture, value (lightness or darkness of color), and size, combined with a visual semantics for linking data attributes to visual elements.

Bertin revised his book for a second edition published in 1973. It was translated into German in 1974. In 1983 an English translation of the second French edition by William J. Berg, with a foreword by Howard Wainer, and a new preface by Bertin, was published by the University of Wisconsin Press as Semiology of Graphics: Diagrams, Networks, Maps. In 2010 the English translation was reissued with a new Foreword by Wainer. The 438 page book contained over 1000 images, a few in color.

A widely referenced quotation from Bertin's book is:

"And now, at the end of the twentieth century, with the pressure of modern information and the advances of data processing, graphics is passing through a new and fundamental stage. The great difference between the graphic representation of yesterday, which was poorly dissociated from the figurative image, and the graphics of tomorrow, is the disappearance of the congential fixity of the image.

"When one can superimpose, juxtapose, transpose, and permute graphic images in ways that lead to groupings and classings, the graphic image passes from the dead image, the 'illustration,' to the living image, the widely accessible research instrument it is now becoming. The graphic is no longer only the 'representation' of a final simplification, it is a point of departure for the discovery of these simplifications and the means for their justification. The graphic has become, by its manageability, an instrument for information processing. . . . " [I added the bold face. JN]

In his foreword to the 1983 English translation Wainer called Bertin's work, "the most important work on graphics since the publication of Playfair's Atlas [The Commerical and Political Atlas (1785-86)]."

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Steven A. Coons Develops the "Coons Patch" in Computer Graphics June 1967

In June 1967 Steven A. Coons, professor of mechanical engineering and researcher in interactive computer graphics at MIT's Electronic Systems Laboratory, published Surfaces for Computer-aided Design of Space Forms, Project MAC Report MAC-TR-41, MIT.

Known as the "The Little Red Book,

" the paper described what became known as the "Coons Patch"— "a formulation that presented the notation, mathematical foundation, and intuitive interpretation of an idea that would ultimately become the foundation for surface descriptions that are commonly used today, such as b-spline surfaces, NURB surfaces, etc. His technique for describing a surface was to construct it out of collections of adjacent patches, which had continuity constraints that would allow surfaces to have curvature which was expected by the designer. Each patch was defined by four boundary curves, and a set of "blending functions" that defined how the interior was constructed out of interpolated values of the boundaries" (Carlson, A Critical History of Computer Graphics and Animation, accessed 05-30-2009).

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Ivan Sutherland and Bob Sproull Create the First Virtual Reality Head Mounted Display System 1968

In 1968 Ivan Sutherland at the University of Utah, with the help of his student Bob Sproull, created the first Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) head mounted display system.

Sutherland's head mounted display was so heavy that it had to be suspended from the ceiling, and the formidable appearance of the device inspired its name—the Sword of Damocles. The system was primitive both in terms of user interface and realism, and the graphics comprising the virtual environment were simple wireframe rooms.

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Stephen A. Benton Invents the Rainbow Hologram or Benton Hologram 1968

In 1968 Stephen A. Benton, then of Polaroid Corporation, and later at MIT's Media Lab, invented the Benton hologram or rainbow hologram, a hologram designed to be viewed under white light illumation rather than laser light, which was required to view holograms before this invention.  

"The rainbow holography recording process uses a horizontal slit to eliminate vertical parallax in the output image, greatly reducing spectral blur while preserving three-dimensionality for most observers. A viewer moving up or down in front of a rainbow hologram sees changing spectral colors rather than different vertical perspectives. Stereopsis and horizontal motion parallax, two relatively powerful cues to depth, are preserved. The holograms found on credit cards are examples of rainbow holograms" (Wikipedia article on rainbow hologram, accessed 11-23-2012).

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Andries van Dam Develops Probably the First Hypertext System Used in Education 1968

In 1968 Andries van Dam and his students at Brown University, including Bob Wallace, introduced The File Retrieval and Editing SyStem, or FRESS. FRESS was a continuation of work done on van Dam's previous hypertext system, HES, developed in 1967.

"FRESS ran on an IBM 360-series mainframe running VM/CMS. It implemented one of the first virtual-terminal interfaces, and could run on various terminals from dumb typewriters up to the Imlac PDS-1 graphical minicomputer. On the PDS-1, it supported multi-window WYSIWYG editing and graphics display. Notably, the PDS-1 used a lightpen rather than a mouse, and the lightpen could be "clicked" using a cathartic foot-pedal.

"FRESS improved on HES's capabilities in many ways. FRESS documents could be of arbitrary size, and (unlike prior systems) were not laid out in lines until the moment of display. FRESS users could insert a marker at any location within a text document and link the marked selection to any other point either in the same document or a different document.

"FRESS had two types of links: tags and "jumps". Tags were links to information such as references or footnotes, while "jumps" were links that could take the user through many separate but related documents, much like the World Wide Web of today. FRESS also had the ability to assign keywords to links or text blocks to assist with navigation. Keywords could be used to select which sections to display or print, which links would be available to the user, and so on. Multiple "spaces" were also automatically maintained, including an automatic table of contents and indexes to keywords, document structures, and so on.

"FRESS is also possibly the first computer-based system to have had an "undo" feature for quickly correcting small editing or navigational mistakes.

"FRESS was essentially a text-based system and editing links was a fairly complex task unless you had access to the PDS-1 terminal, in which case you could select each end with the lightpen and create a link with a couple of keystrokes. FRESS provided no method for knowing where the user was within a collection of documents.

"FRESS was used for instructional computing (probably being the first hypertext system used in education), particularly for teaching poetry, as well as typesetting many books, notably by philosopher Roderick Chisholm. For example, in the Preface to Person and Object Chisholm writes 'The book would not have been completed without the epoch-making File Retrieval and Editing System...'  FRESS was for many years the word processor of choice at Brown and a small number of other sites " (Wikipedia article on File Retrieval and Editing System, accessed 11-08-2013).

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The Computer Artis Society, the First Society for Computer Art, is Founded in London 1968

In the months following the ground breaking London exhibition, Cybernetic Serendipity, that showcased computer-based and technologically influenced works in graphics, music, film, and interactivity, Alan SutcliffeGeorge Mallen, and John Lansdown founded the Computer Arts Society in London. The Society enabled relatively isolated artists working with computers in a variety of fields to meet and exchange information. It also ran practical courses, conferences and exhibitions.

"In March 1969, CAS organised an exhibition entitled Event One, which was held at the Royal College of Art. The exhibition showcased innovative work with computers across a broad range of disciplines, including sculpture, graphics, music, film, architecture, poetry, theatre and dance. CAS founder John Lansdown, for example, designed and organised a dance performance that was choreographed entirely by the computer and performed by members of the Royal Ballet School. The multi-media approach of exhibitions such as Event One greatly influenced younger artists and designers emerging at this time. Many of these artists were rebelling against the traditional fine art hierarchies of the time, and went on to work in the new fields of computer, digital, and video art as a result.

"CAS established links with educational establishments, journalists and industry, ensuring greater coverage of their activities and more importantly helping to provide access to computing technology at a time when this was difficult. CAS members were remarkably ahead of their time in recognising the long term impact that the computer would have on society, and in providing services to those already working creatively with the computer. By 1970 CAS had 377 members in 17 countries. Its journal 'PAGE' was first edited by auto-destructive artist Gustav Metzger, and is still being produced today. The Computer Arts Society is a specialist group of the British Computer Society" (http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/t/v-and-a-computer-art-collections/, accessed 01-19-2014).

In January 2014 all of the early issues of Page, beginning with "Page 1," April 1969 were available from the website of the Computer Arts Society Specialty Group of the BCS at this link.

In 2007 the Computer Arts Society donated its collection of original computer art to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, which maintains one of the world's largest and most significant collections of computer art. The V&A's holdings in this field were the subject of an article by Honro Beddard entitled "Computer Art at the V&A," V&A Online Journal, Issue No. 2 (2009), accessed 01-19-2014). 

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"Incredible Machine" State of the Art in Computer Generated Film, Graphics and Music in 1968 1968

In 1968 scientists at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, New Jersey, created "Incredible Machine,"a color film that that represented the state-of-the- art in computer-generated film, graphics, and music at the time. 

The film featured artwork and computer graphics by Ken Knowlton and 
computer-generated music by Max Mathews. The title sequence was programmed by A. Michael Noll using his four-dimensional animation technique and is perhaps the first use of computer animation for title sequences. The computer ballet during the end credits was by A. Michael Noll. The basilar membrane animation was done by Robert C. Lummis, Man Mohan Sondhi, and A. Michael Noll.

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Lee Harrison's Scanimate: The First Widely Applied Analog Computer Animation System Circa 1968 – 1985

In 1962 Lee Harrison III built ANIMAC, a hybrid graphic animation computer. This was a precursor to the Scanimate, an analog computer animation system designed and built Harrison and the Computer Image Corporation in Denver. From the around 1969 to the mid 1980s Scanimates were used to produce a significant portion of the video-based animation seen on television in commercials, show titles, and other graphics. Scanimates could create animations in real time. This helped the system to supercede film-based animation techniques for television graphics, and from the early 1970s to early 1980s systems were in operation in Japan, Australia, Luxembourg, London, New York, Hollywood and Denver. Altogether eight Scanimate systems were built. The systems were also used in films. However, by the mid-1980s Scanimate was superseded by digital computer animation, which produced sharper images and more sophisticated 3D imagery.

"Animations created on Scanimate and similar analog computer animation systems have a number of characteristic features that distinguish them from film-based animation: The motion is extremely fluid, using all 60 fields per second (in NTSC format video) or 50 fields (in PAL format video) rather than the 24 frames per second that film uses; the colors are much brighter and more saturated; and the images have a very "electronic" look that results from the direct manipulation of video signals through which the Scanimate produces the images.

"A special high-resolution (around 800 lines) monochrome camera records high-contrast artwork. The image is then displayed on a high-resolution screen. Unlike a normal monitor, its deflection signals are passed through a special analog computer that enables the operator to bend the image in a variety of ways. The image is then shot from the screen by either a film camera or a video camera. In the case of a video camera this signal is then fed into a colorizer, a device that takes certain shades of grey and turns it into color as well as transparency. The idea behind this is that the output of the Scanimate itself is always monochrome. Another advantage of the colorizer is that it gives the operator the ability to continuously add layers of graphics. This makes possible the creation of very complex graphics. This is done by using two video recorders. The background is played by one recorder and then recorded by another one. This process is repeated for every layer. This requires very high-quality video recorders (such as both the Ampex VR-2000 or IVC's IVC-9000 of Scanimate's era, the IVC-9000 being used quite frequently for Scanimate composition due to its very high generational quality between re-recordings) " (Wikipedia article on Scanimate, accessed 02-01-2014).

In January 2014 a major archive of Scanimate information and videos was available from Dave Sieg's scanimate.sfx.com.

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Aaron Klug Invents Three-Dimensional Image Processing January 1968

In January 1968 English molecular biologist Aaron Klug described techniques for the reconstruction of three-dimensional structures from electron micrographs, thus founding the processing of three-dimensional digital images.

D. J. de Rosier and A. Klug, “Reconstruction of three dimensional structures from electron micrographs,” Nature 217 (1968) 130-34.

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Cybernetic Serendipity: The First Widely-Attended International Exhibition of Computer Art August 2 – October 20, 1968

From August 2  to October 20, 1968 Cybernetic Serendipity: The Computer and the Arts was exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, curated by British art critic, editor, and Assistant Director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts Jasia Reichardt, at the suggestion of Max Bense. This was the first widely attended international exhibition of computer art, and the first exhibition to attempt to demonstrate all aspects of computer-aided creative activity: art, music, poetry, dance, sculpture, animation.

In the video below Jasia Reichardt introduced the exhibition:

"It drew together 325 participants from many countries; attendance figures reached somewhere between 45,000 and 60,000 (accounts differ) and it received wide and generally positive press coverage ranging from the Daily Mirror newspaper to the fashion magazine Vogue. A scaled-down version toured to the Corcoran Gallery in Washington DC and then the Exploratorium, the museum of science, art and human perception in San Francisco. It took Reichardt three years of fundraising, travelling and planning" (Mason, a computer in the art room. the origins of british computer arts 1950-80 [2008] 101-102)

For the catalogue of the show Reichardt edited a special issue of Studio International magazine, consisting of 100 pages with 300 images, publication of which coincided with the exhibition in 1968. The color frontispiece reproduced a color computer graphic by the American John C. Mott-Smith "made by time-lapse photography successively exposed through coloured filters, of an oscilloscope connected to a computer." The cover of the special issue was designed by the Polish-British painter, illustrator, film-maker, and stage designer Franciszka Themerson, incorporating computer graphics from the exhibition. Laid into copies of the special issue were 4 leaves entitled "Cybernetic Serendipity Music," each page providing a program for one of eight tapes of music played during the show. This information presumably was not available in time to be printed in the issue of Studio International.

Reichardt's Introduction  (p. 5) included the following:

"The exhibition is divided into three sections, and these sections are represented in the catalogue in a different order:

"1. Computer-generated graphics, computer-animated films, computer-composed and -played music, and computer poems and texts.

"2. Cybernetic devices as works of art, cybernetic enironments, remoted-control robots and painting machines.

"3. Machines demonstrating the uses of computers and an environment dealing with the history of cybernetics.

"Cybernetic Sernedipity deals with possibilites rather than achievements, and in this sense it is prematurely optimistic. There are no heroic claims to be made because computers have so far neither revolutionized music, nor art, nor poetry, the same way that they have revolutionized science.

"There are two main points which make this exhibition and this catalogue unusual in the contexts in which art exhibitions and catalogues are normally seen. The first is that no visitor to the exhibition, unless he reads all the notes relating to all the works, will know whether he is looking at something made by an artist, engineer, mathematician, or architect. Nor is it particularly important to know the background of all the makers of the various robots, machines and graphics- it will not alter their impact, although it might make us see them differently.

"The other point is more significant.

"New media, such as plastics, or new systems such as visual music notation and the parameters of concrete poetry, inevitably alter the shape of art, the characteristics of music, and content of poetry. New possibilities extend the range of expression of those creative poeple whom we identify as painters, film makers, composers and poets. It is very rare, however, that new media and new systems should bring in their wake new people to become involved in creative activity, be it composiing music drawing, constructing or writing.

"This has happened with the advent of computers. The engineers for whom the graphic plotter driven by a computer represented nothing more than a means of solving certain problems visually, have occasionally become so interested in the possibilities of this visual output, that they have started to make drawings which bear no practical application, and for which the only real motives are the desire to explore, and the sheer pelasure of seeing a drawing materialize. Thus people who would never have put pencil to paper, or brush to canvas, have started making images, both still and animated, which approximate and often look identical to what we call 'art' and put in public galleries.

"This is the most important single revelation of this exhibition." 

Some copies of the special issue were purchased by Motif Editions of London.  Those copies do not include the ICA logo on the upper cover and do not print the price of 25s. They also substitute two blanks for the two leaves of ads printed in the back of the regular issue. They do not include the separate 4 leaves of programs of computer music.  These special copies were sold by Motif Editions with a large  (75 x 52 cm) portfolio containing seven 30 x 20 inch color lithographs with a descriptive table of contents. The artists included Masao Komura/Makoto Ohtake/Koji Fujino (Computer Technique Group); Masao Komura/Kunio Yamanaka (Computer Technique Group); Maugham S. Mason, Boeing Computer Graphics; Kerry Starnd, Charles "Chuck" Csuri/James Shaffer & Donald K. Robbins/ The art works were titled respectively 'Running Cola is Africa', 'Return to Square', 'Maughanogram', 'Human Figure', 'The Snail', 'Random War' & '3D Checkerboard Pattern'.  Copies of the regular edition contained a full-page ad for the Motif Editions portfolio for sale at £5 plus postage or £1 plus postage for individual prints.

In 1969 Frederick A. Praeger Publishers of New York and Washington, DC issued a cloth-bound second edition of the Cybernetic Serendipity catalogue with a dust jacket design adapted from the original Studio International cover. It was priced $8.95. The American edition probably coincided with the exhibition of the material at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington. The Praeger edition included an index on p. 101, and no ads. Comparison of the text of the 1968 and 1969 editions shows that the 1969 edition contains numerous revisions and changes.

In 2005 Jasia Reichardt looked back on the exhibition with these comments:

"One of the journals dealing with the Computer and the Arts in the mid-sixties, was Computers and the Humanities. In September 1967, Leslie Mezei of the University of Toronto, opened his article on 'Computers and the Visual Arts' in the September issue, as follows: 'Although there is much interest in applying the computer to various areas of the visual arts, few real accomplishments have been recorded so far. Two of the causes for this lack of progress are technical difficulty of processing two-dimensional images and the complexity and expense of the equipment and the software. Still the current explosive growth in computer graphics and automatic picture processing technology are likely to have dramatic effects in this area in the next few years.' The development of picture processing technology took longer than Mezei had anticipated, partly because both the hardware and the software continued to be expensive. He also pointed out that most of the pictures in existence in 1967 were produced mainly as a hobby and he discussed the work of Michael Noll, Charles Csuri, Jack Citron, Frieder Nake, Georg Nees, and H.P. Paterson. All these names are familiar to us today as the pioneers of computer art history. Mezei himself too was a computer artist and produced series of images using maple leaf design and other national Canadian themes. Most of the computer art in 1967 was made with mechanical computer plotters, on CRT displays with a light pen or from scanned photographs. Mathematical equations that produced curves, lines or dots, and techniques to introduce randomness, all played their part in those early pictures. Art made with these techniques was instantaneously recognisable as having been produced either by mechanical means or with a program. It didn't actually look as if it had been done by hand. Then, and even now, most art made with the computer carries an indelible computer signature. The possibility of computer poetry and art was first mentioned in 1949. By the beginning of the 1950s it was a topic of conversation at universities and scientific establishments, and by the time computer graphics arrived on the scene, the artists were scientists, engineers, architects. Computer graphics were exhibited for the first time in 1965 in Germany and in America. 1965 was also the year when plans were laid for a show that later came to be called 'Cybernetic Serendipity' and presented at the ICA in London in 1968. It was the first exhibition to attempt to demonstrate all aspects of computer-aided creative activity: art, music, poetry, dance, sculpture, animation. The principal idea was to examine the role of cybernetics in contemporary arts. The exhibition included robots, poetry, music and painting machines, as well as all sorts of works where chance was an important ingredient. It was an intellectual exercise that became a spectacular exhibition in the summer of 1968" (http://www.medienkunstnetz.de/exhibitions/serendipity/images/1/, accessed 06-16-2012). This website reproduces photographs of the actual exhibition and a poster printed for the show.

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K. G. Pontius Hultén Curates "The Machine as Seen at the End of the Mechanical Age" : An Art Exhibition November 27, 1968 – February 9, 1969

Swedish art collector and curator K. G. Pontius Hultén curated and wrote the catalogue for The Machine as Seen at the End of the Mechanical Age, an exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, from November 27, 1968 to February 9, 1969. This was a landmark exhibition on the history of the machine in its relationship to art from the Renaissance to 1968; or as the editor stated, it was "a collection of comments on technology by artists of the Western world" (p. 3). The art reproduced and described in the catalogue— including much that was radical for its time—was mainly in traditional media such as prints or paintings, sculptural or mechanical, with a few electro-mechanical items, and one example of laser art.

Only the last two items in the exhibition were examples of computer graphics, the first of which was a digitized and pixilated image of a reclining nude, entitled "The Nude," executed in 1966 Leon D. Harman and Kenneth C. Knowlton, researchers at Bell Labs. "Knowlton relates how they tossed a coin to determine who would be listed in the museum catalogue as the 'artist' (Harmon) and as the 'engineer' (Knowlton)" (Noll, First Hand: Early Digital Art at Bell Telephone Laboratories, Inc, accessed 01-19-2014).  Creation of "The Nude" as shown in a five foot by twelve enlargement was discussed in a New York Times article by Henry R. Lieberman entitled "Art and Science Proclaim Alliance in Avant-Garde Loft," October 11, 1967.

That the show took place only a month after the pioneering computer art show, Cybernetic Serendipity, closed in London, was probably a coincidence.

The design and production of the catalogue was unusually excellent, including a very striking binding of aluminum sheeting with a stamped enamel-painted design of the MOMA building on the upper cover.

In January 2014 all the press release documents, including detailed information about art exhibited, were available from the Museum of Modern Art website at this link.

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Lloyd Sumner Issues The First Monograph by a Computer Artist December 1968

Cover of Computer Art and Human Response by Lloyd Sumner.

In 1968 print dealer and book collector Paul B. Victorius of Charlottesville, Virginia published Computer Art and Human Response by computer artist Lloyd Sumner. This oblong 8vo of 96 pages, dedicated "To my good friends the Burroughs B5500 and the Calcomp 565," appears to be the first monograph by a computer artist, and because it explains techniques, it is probably the first book on how to produce computer art, as William Fetter's 1965 book on Computer Graphics in Communication was focused on computer graphics used in engineering.

Sumner's book is extensively illustrated with numerous plotter images output on the Calcomp 565, several of which are reproduced in color, making it one of the earliest books exclusively illustrated with computer graphics. Sumner's book was probably published in December 1968.  The text refers to Sumner's participation in the Cybernetic Serendipity show in London held from August to October 1968, indicating that "over 50,000 people" attended that show, and the introduction to the book by the president of the University of Virginia is dated August 1968. Two presentation copies in my collection are dated December 12 and 13 respectively.

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1970 – 1980

Negroponte's "The Architecture Machine" is Published 1970

In his book, The Architecture Machine, published in 1970 architect and computer scientist Nicholas Negroponte of MIT described early research on computer-aided design, and in so doing covered early work on human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence, and computer graphics. The book contained a large number of illustrations.

"Most of the machines that I will be discussing do not exist at this time. The chapters are primarily extrapolations into the future derived from experiences with various computer-aided design systems. . . .

"There are three possible ways in which machines can assist the design process: (1) current procedures can be automated, thus speeding up and reducing the cost of existing practices; (2) existing methods can be altered to fit within the specifications and constitution of a machine, where only those issues are considered that are supposedly machine-compatible; (3) the design process, considered as evolutionary, can be presented to a machine, also considered as evolutionary, and a mutal training, resilience, and growth can be developed" (From Negroponte's "Preface to a Preface," p. [6]).

Negroponte's book has been called the first book on the personal computer. On that I do not agree. The book contains only vague discussions of the possiblity of eventual personal computers. Most specifically it says, as caption to its second illustration, a cartoon relating to a home computer, "The computer at home is not a fanciful concept. As the cost of computation lowers, the computer utility will become a consumer item, and every child should have one." Instead The Architecture Machine may be the first book on human-computer interaction, and on the possibilities of computer-aided design.

(This entry was last revised on 04-20-2014.)

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Franke Issues the First Comprehensive Treatise on Computer Graphics with the First History of Computer Art 1971

Cover of Computergraphik-Computerkunst, by H.W. Franke. Please click on image to see larger version of image.

Herbert W. Franke.

In 1971 Austrian scientist, science fiction writer, and computer graphics artist Herbert W. Franke published Computergraphik-Computerkunst in Munich at the press of F. Bruckmann.  Within the same year his book was also translated into English by Gustav Metzger and published by Phaidon in London and New York as Computer Graphics, Computer Art. In many respects Franke's extensively illustrated book was the first comprehensive treatise on computer graphics, representing the state of the art in 1971.  It also contained the first history of computer art in graphics, sculpture, film, music, architecture, theater and dance.

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The Gouraud Shading Method for Polygon Smoothing is Developed June 1971

In June 1971 Henri Gouraud of the University of Utah published "Computer display of curved surfaces" in IEEE Transactions in Computers. This described the Gouraud shading method for polygon smoothing, a scheme for continuous shading in computer graphics, which makes a surface composed of discrete polygons appear to be continuous.

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The First 3D Rendered Movie 1972

Screen capture of Ed Catmull's left hand - from the world's first ever 3D rendered movie created in 1972 by Ed Catmull and Fred Park.

Screen capture showing polygons used to model the surface of the hand.

In 1972 Edwin Catmull and Frederic Parke, students of Ivan Sutherland at the University of Utah, created the world's first 3D rendered movie, a 6.5 minute clip featuring an animated version of Ed's left hand, and the first CG physically modelled human face created by Fred Parke. The film shows how a mold was made of Ed's hand, on which polygons were very precisely drawn and measured. Then the data was traced by an analog computer. Probably the same data entry method was used for the face.

In 1976 the film was incorporated in the feature film Futureworld.

This video was rediscovered and uploaded to YouTube in September 2011:

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The First Major Film to Use 2D Digital Image Processing 1973

The science fiction /thriller film Westworld, written and directed by Michael Crichton, and produced by MGM Studios, Culver City, California in 1973 was the first major film to incorporate 2D digital image processing. It starred Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin, and James Brolin.

"Westworld was the first feature film to use digital image processing. John Whitney, Jr. and Gary Demos at Information International, Inc. digitally processed motion picture photography to appear pixelized in order to portray the Gunslinger android's point of view. The approximately 2 minutes and 31 seconds worth of cinegraphic block portraiture was accomplished by color-separating (three basic color separations plus black mask) each frame of source 70 mm film images, scanning each of these elements to convert into rectangular blocks, then adding basic color according to the tone values developed. The resulting coarse pixel matrix was output back to film. The process was covered in the American Cinematographer article Behind the scenes of Westworld" (Wikipedia article on Westworld, accessed 03-08-2012).

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Discovery of Citation Mapping 1973

In 1973 American information scientist Henry G. Small of the Institute for Scientific Information published "Co-Citation in the Scientific Literature; A New Measure of the Relationship between Two Documents," Journal of the American Society for Information Science 24 (1973) 265-9. Small's paper first described what he called "citation mapping," which enabled the use of citation data to create maps visualizing the structure of scientific activity.

Citation mapping was co-discovered by Irina Marshakova in Moscow.

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Mandelbrot's "The Fractal Geometry of Nature" 1975 – 1982

In 1975 French American mathematician, physicist, economist, and information theorist Benoit Mandelbrot, a researcher at the IBM T. J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, New York, first developed fractal geometry in his book, Les objets fractals, forme, hasard et dimension, building on the concept that seemingly irregular shapes can have identical structure at all scales. Mandelbrot expanded and translated his ideas in his book Fractals: Form, Chance and Dimension (1977). He further expanded them in The Fractal Geometry of Nature (1982). In 1999 American Scientist magazine stated that these three books, taken together, comprise “one of the ten most influential scientific essays of the 20th century.” The impact of these books on the scientific community, and on the educated public, was significantly enhanced by mathematically accurate computer-drawn illustrations created by programmers working with Mandelbrot, primarily at IBM Research. Images for the 1977 and 1982 books were mainly by Richard F. Voss. The early graphics were low-resolution black and white; later drawings were higher resolution and in color as computer graphic technology evolved between 1975 and 1982.

Mandelbrot's new geometry made it possible to describe mathematically the kinds of irregularities existing in nature, and had applications in an enormously wide range of scientific and technological fields.

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The "Utah Teapot" is Created 1975

In 1975 Martin Newell, computer graphics researcher at the University of Utah, created the Utah Teapot or Newell teapot, a mathematical model of an ordinary teapot of fairly simple shape which became a standard reference object, and something of an "in-joke", in the computer graphics community.

"Versions of the teapot model, or sample scenes containing it, are distributed with or freely available for nearly every current rendering and modelling program and even many graphic API, including AutoCAD, Houdini, Lightwave 3D, modo, POV-Ray, 3D Studio Max, and the APIs OpenGL and Direct3D. Some RenderMan-compliant renderers support the teapot as a built-in geometry by calling RiGeometry("teapot", RI_NULL). Along with the expected cubes and spheres, the GLUT library even provides the function glutSolidTeapot() as a graphics primitive, as does its Direct3D counterpart D3DX (D3DXCreateTeapot()). Mac OS X Tiger and Leopard also include the teapot as part of Quartz Composer, Leopard's teapot supports bump mapping. BeOS included a small demo of a rotating 3D teapot, intended to show off the platform's multimedia facilities. Teapot scenes are commonly used for renderer self-tests and benchmarks. In particular, the Teapot in a stadium benchmark and problem concern the difficulty of rendering a scene with drastically different geometrical density and scale of data in various parts of the scene.

"With the advent first of computer generated short films, and then of full length feature films, it has become something of an in-joke to hide a Utah teapot somewhere in one of the film's scenes. For example, in the movie Toy Story the Utah teapot appears in a short tea-party scene. The Utah teapot sometimes appears in the "Pipes" screensaver shipped with Microsoft Windows, but only in versions prior to Windows XP, and has been included in the "polyhedra" Xscreensaver hack since 2008. The teapot also appears in The Simpsons episode Treehouse of Horror VI in which Homer discovers the "third dimension".

"One famous ray-traced image (by Jim Arvo and Dave Kirk, from their 1987 SIGGRAPH paper "Fast Ray Tracing by Ray Classification") shows six stone columns, five of which are surmounted by the platonic solids (tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, dodecahedron, icosahedron) – and the sixth column has a teapot[7]. The image is titled "The Six Platonic Solids" – which has led some people to call the teapot a "Teapotahedron". This image appeared on the covers of several books and journals. Jim Blinn (in one of his "Project Mathematics!" videos) proves an amusing (but trivial) version of the Pythagorean theorem: Construct a (2D) teapot on each side of a right triangle and the area of the teapot on the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the areas of the teapots on the other two sides" (Wikipedia article on Utah teapot, accessed 01-07-2010).

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One of the First GPU's 1975

During the 1970s Fujitsu's MB14241 video shifter was used to accelerate the drawing of sprite graphics for various 1970s arcade games from Taito and Midway, such as Gun Fight (1975), Sea Wolf (1976), and Space Invaders (1978). The MB14241 may have been the earliest graphics processing unit (GPU).

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The First Major Film to Incorporate 3D Computer Generated Images 1976

The science fiction film Futureworld, a sequel to Westworld, produced by American International Pictures (AIP) in Los Angeles in 1976 was the first major feature film to incorporate 3D computer generated images (CGI).

Futureworld featured a computer-generated hand and face created by University of Utah graduate students Edwin Catmull and Fred Parke. "The animated hand was a digitized version of Edwin Catmull's left hand. The movie also used 2D digital compositing to materialize characters over a background" (Wikipedia article on Futureworld, accessed 03-13-2009).

♦ In May 2013 the 50 second sequence of Futureworld incorporating the CG hand and face was available from YouTube at this link.

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Apple I: The First Personal Computer Sold as a Fully Assembled Product 1977

In 1977 Apple Computer introduced the Apple II, the first personal computer sold as a fully assembled product, and the first with color graphics. When the first spreadsheet program, Visicalc, was introduced for the Apple II in 1979 it greatly stimulated sales of the computer as people bought the Apple II just to run Visicalc.

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The First Graphical Computer Adventure Game 1979 – 1980

In 1979 and 1980 Roberta and Ken Williams wrote Mystery House for the Apple II. Containing 70 simple two-dimensional drawings by Roberta Williams, Mystery House was the first computer adventure game with graphics.  The game was also eventually released into the public domain.

♦ Later it was converted into an ap. In December 2013 you could buy version 1.0.6 of the program in the iTunes Store at this link.

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Vol Libre: The First Fractal CGI Movie 1979 – 1980

Having read Benoît Mandelbrot's 1977 book, Fractals: Form, Chance and Dimension, which described geometry of natural rough rather than smooth shapes, Loren Carpenter created a two-minute color film called Vol Libre to showcase his software for rendering realistic mountains and landscapes using fractal geometry at a SIGGRAPH conference in 1980. This was the first application of fractals in a computer-generated imagery (CGI) film. Production of each frame of the film required about 20-40 minutes of computing time on a VAX-11/780 computer. Prior to this film realistic animation in films had to be done by hand, frame by frame.

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1980 – 1990

The First Flight Simulator Program for a Personal Computer January 1980

In January 1980 Bruce A. Artwick, an engineering student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, released A2-FS1 Flight Simulator for the Apple II personal computer through his subLOGIC Corporation. This was the first flight simulator program for a personal computer. 

Artwick began the project by writing a series of articles on flight simulation using computer graphics during 1976. When a magazine editor told him that subscribers were interested in purchasing such a program Artwick founded subLOGIC Corporation to commercialize his ideas. At first the company sold simulators by mail order, but that changed with the related of Flight Simulator FS1, for the Apple II, followed by a release in March 1980 for the TRS-80 with lower quality graphics.

♦ In December 2013 a dynamic simulation of the original program was available from the Wikipedia at this link.

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The Xerox Star: The "Office of the Future" 1981

In 1981 Xerox introduced the 8010 Star Information System, the first commercial system to incorporate a bitmapped display, a windows-based graphical user interface, icons, folders, mouse, Ethernet networking, file servers, printer servers and e-mail.

Xerox's 8010 Star was developed at Xerox's Systems Development Department (SDD) in El Segundo, California. A section of SDD ("SDD North") was located in Palo Alto, California, and included some people borrowed from Xerox's PARC. SDD's mission was to design the "Office of the Future"—a system, easy to use, that would incorporate the best features of the Xerox Alto, and could automate many office tasks.

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"Computer Gaming World," the First Magazine on Computer Games 1981

In 1981 Russell Sipe founded Computer Gaming World as a bi-monthly publication. Computer Gaming World was the first magazine specifically devoted to computer games. The magazine published 268 issues before being replaced with Games for Windows: The Official Magazine. This went to online-only publication on April 8, 2008

In December 2013 the first 100 issues of Computer Gaming World were available from the Computer Gaming World Museum.

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"Blade Runner" 1982

The 1982 science fiction film Blade Runnerstarring Harrison Ford and directed by Ridley Scott, loosely based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, depicted a dreary, rainy, and polluted Los Angeles in 2019. In the film genetically manufactured, bioengineered biorobots called replicants—visually indistinguishable from adult humans—are used for dangerous and degrading work in Earth's "off-world colonies."  After a minor replicant uprising, replicants are banned on Earth; and specialist police units called "blade runners" are trained to hunt down and "retire" (kill) escaped replicants on Earth.

The film, which  became a cult classic for many reasons, including its unique sets, lighting, costumes and visual effects, is considered the last great science fiction film in which the special effects were produced entirely through analog, rather than digital or computer graphics methods, using elaborate model-making, multiple exposures, etc.

Scott's original director's cut of the film was first issued as a DVD in 1999. In 2007 the so-called "Final Cut" with a great deal of supplementary material, including three previous versions of the film, and a "definitive" documentary, even longer than the original film, was issued on DVD and Blu-ray. The documentary, and the collection of versions of the film, presented a superb opportunity to gain insight into way that Ridley Scott created a film.

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One of the First Films to Incorporate Computer Graphics 1982

Disney's 1982 movie Tron was one of the first films to incorporate computer graphics or computer animation, partly rendered on a Cray-1 Supercomputer, which also appeared in the film.

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The First Completely Computer-Generated (CGI) Cinematic Image Sequence in a Feature Film 1982

in 1982 George Lucas's Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), San Rafael, California, created the first completely computer-generated cinematic image (CGI) sequence in a feature film in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The sequence lasted sixty seconds. Prior to this film all animation in films had to be done by hand, frame by frame. In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan nearly all the special visual effects were done by photographing models, or other analog methods. Only the one minute sequence applied computer graphics.

"The Wrath of Khan was one of the first films to extensively use electronic images and computer graphics to speed production of shots. Computer graphics company Evans & Sutherland produced the vector graphics displays aboard the Enterprise and the fields of stars used in the opening credits. Among ILM's technical achievements was cinema's first entirely computer-generated sequence: the demonstration of the effects of the Genesis Device on a barren planet. The first concept for the shot took the form of a laboratory demonstration, where a rock would be placed in a chamber and turned into a flower. [Effects supervisor Jim] Veilleux suggested the sequence's scope be expanded to show the Genesis effect taking over a planet. While Paramount appreciated the more dramatic presentation, they also wanted the simulation to be more impressive than traditional animation. . . ." (Wikipedia article on Start Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn, accessed 03-12-2012).

The "genesis effect" scene of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan featured an entire fractally-landscaped planet produced by Loren Carpenter. Prior to developing this fractally-landscaped planet Carpenter had created the first realistic computer-generated film using fractal geometry— the two-minute short, Vol Libri. The Director's Edition DVD version of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan issued in 2002 contained as part of its special features on disc 2 a discussion of the Visual Effects of the film.  In this the computer graphics aspect was only briefly mentioned; nearly all of the content concerned analog devices such as photographing models.

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Sun Microsystems Announces its First Workstation February 24, 1982

In May 1982 SUN Microsystems announced its first UNIX workstation, the Sun 1. The company had been founded in Santa Clara, California only three months earlier, on February 24, 1982, by Vinod Khosla, Andy Bechtolsheim, Bill Joy, and Scott McNealy—students at Stanford who worked on the Stanford University Network

"The initial design for what became Sun's first Unix workstation,  was conceived by Andy Bechtolsheim when he was a graduate student at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. He originally designed the SUN workstation for the Stanford University Network communications project as a personal CAD workstation. It was designed as a 3M computer: 1 MIPS, 1 Megabyte and 1 Megapixel. It was designed around the Motorola 68000 processor with an advanced Memory management unit (MMU) to support the Unix operating system with virtual memory support. He built the first ones from spare parts obtained from Stanford's Department of Computer Science and Silicon Valley supply houses" (Wikipedia article on Sun Microsystems, accessed 06-12-2009).

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Microsoft Flight Simulator 1.0 November 1982

Having obtained a license from subLOGIC Corporation to port Flight Simulator FS-1 to IBM PCs and compatibles, in November 1982 Microsoft released the program as Microsoft Flight Simulator 1.0

♦ In December 2013 films on the history of subLOGIC/Microsoft Flight Simulator made in 2010 and 2006 were available from the Wikipedia article on the History of Microsoft Flight Simulator

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"The Last Starfighter": One of the First Films to Make Extensive Use of Computer Graphic Imagery 1984

The Last Starfighter, a 1984 science fiction adventure film directed by Nick Castle, was one of the earliest films to make extensive use of computer graphics for its special effects. In place of physical models, 3D rendered models were used to depict space ships and many other objects. The Gunstar and other spaceships in the film were the design of artist Ron Cobb, who also worked on AlienStar Wars and Conan the Barbarian.

The computer graphics were rendered by Digital Productions on a Cray X-MP supercomputer. The company created 27 minutes of effects for the film— considered an enormous amount of computer generated imagery at the time. For the 300 scenes containing computer graphics each frame of animation contained an average of 250,000 polygons, with a resolution of 3000 × 5000 36-bit pixels. Digital Productions estimated that using computer animation required only half the time, and one-half to one-third the cost of traditional special effects. 

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The First Fully Computer-Generated Character in a Film 1985

In 1985 the film Young Sherlock Holmes, produced by Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment, directed by Barry Levinson and written by Chris Columbus, included the first fully computer-generated (CGI) character, a knight composed of elements from a stained glass window. The effect was created by John Lasseter at Lucasfilm Computer Graphics before George Lucas sold that division to Steve Jobs in 1986, and it became Pixar Animation Studios.

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Rediscovery of Electronic Images Created by Andy Warhol on an Amiga Computer 1985

On April 25, 2014 The Andy Warhol Museum (The Warhol) in Pittsburgh announced the discovery of previously unknown artistic experiments created by Warhol on an Amiga Computer in 1985. The electronic images, perserved on floppy discs, were commissioned by Amiga to demonstrate the graphic capabilities of their personal computer. They were found along with the computer and manuals that Warhol used. When this story was published I thought it was the first instance in which electronic imagery by a major artist was restored from obsolete software and an obsolete computer.

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The Origins of Adobe Photoshop 1987 – February 1990

In 1987, American software engineer Thomas Knoll, a PhD student at the University of Michigan, began writing a program on his Macintosh Plus to display grayscale images on a monochrome display. This program, which he called Display, caught the attention of his brother John Knoll, an employee at Industrial Light & Magic, who urged Thomas to turn Display into a fully-fledged image editing program. Thomas took a six-month break from his studies in 1988 to collaborate with John on the program, after which Thomas renamed the program ImagePro. But since the name ImagePro was already taken, Thomas renamed the program Photoshop, and worked out a short-term deal with scanner manufacturer Barneyscan to distribute copies of the program with a slide scanner.  Roughly 200 copies were shipped under that arrangement.  

During this time, John Knoll gave a demonstration of the program to engineers at Apple in Cupertino, and to Russell Brown, art director at Adobe Systems in San Jose. In September 1988 Adobe decided to purchase the license to distribute. In February 1990 Adobe releated Photoshop 1.0 for the Macintosh. Adobe photograph became the de facto industry standard in raster graphics editing.

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Introduction of the GIF Image Format 1987

In 1987 Compuserve introduced the Graphics Interchange Format (GIF), a bitmap image format widely used on the Internet.  

"The format supports up to 8 bits per pixel for each image, allowing a single image to reference its own palette of up to 256 different colors chosen from the 24-bit RGB color space. It also supports animations and allows a separate palette of up to 256 colors for each frame. These palette limitations make the GIF format unsuitable for reproducing color photographs and other images with continuous color, but it is well-suited for simpler images such as graphics or logos with solid areas of color" (Wikipedia article on Graphics Interchange Format, accessed 10-27-2013).

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The First Computer-Animated Film to Win an Academy Award 1988

In 1988 Tin Toy by Pixar, Emeryville, California, became the first computer-animated film to win an Academy Award, for the "best animated short film."

"Tin Toy marked the first time a character with life-like bendable arms and knees, surfaces and facial components was animated digitally. The challenge was balancing it's 'cartoony' look with a baby's real looks."

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Mathematica 1.0 1988

In 1988 physicist and mathematician Stephen Wolfram and Wolfram Research, Champaign, Illinois, introduced Mathematica 1.0, "a computational software program used in scientific, engineering, and mathematical fields and other areas of technical computing" with powerful two dimensional and three dimensional visualization tools.

Mathematica evolved from Symbolic Manipulation Program, usually called SMP, "a computer algebra system designed by Chris A. Cole and Stephen Wolfram at Caltech circa 1979, and initially developed in the Caltech physics department under Wolfram's leadership .... SMP was essentially Version Zero of the more ambitious Mathematica system.

"SMP was influenced by the earlier computer algebra systems Macsyma (of which Wolfram was a user) and Schoonschip (whose code Wolfram studied)" (Wikipedia article on Symbolic Manipulation Program, accessed 05-16-2009).

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The National Center for Biotechnology Information is Founded November 4, 1988

Recognizing the importance of computerized information processing methods for the conduct of biomedical research, on November 4, 1988 Senator and Representative Claude Pepper sponsored legislation that established the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) as a division of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), Bethesda, Maryland. NLM was chosen for its experience in creating and maintaining biomedical databases, and because as part of NIH, it could establish an intramural research program in computational molecular biology. 

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The First Film to Win an Academy Award for Computer Generated Images 1989

In 1989 The Abyss, a science fiction film written and directed by James Cameron and Lightstorm Entertainment, Santa Monica, California, featuring complex computer generated images (CGI)—most notably a seawater creature dubbed the pseudopod—became the first film to win the Academy Award for Visual Effects produced through CGI. The pseudopod was the first computer generated three-dimensional (3D) character.

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The First Holographic Video Display 1989

MIT's Media Lab developed the first holographic video display in 1989. The volume of the hologram was just 25 cubic millimeters, smaller than a thimble.

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1990 – 2000

The First Partially Computer-Generated Main Character 1991

The T-1000 cyborg as played by Robert Parker.

The T-1000 in its default (metalic) form.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day, a 1991 science fiction action film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, directed by James Cameron and written by Cameron and William Wisher, Jr., included included the first use of natural human motion for a computer-generated character, and the first partially computer-generated main character.

"Terminator 2 was the first mainstream blockbuster movie with multiple morphing effects and simulated natural human motion and realistic movements for a major CG character. It was the first film to use 'personal' computers to create its special effects. 

"The lethal, liquid-metal, chrome T-1000 cyborg terminator (Robert Patrick) was the first [partially] computer graphic-generated main character to be used in a film. This was the first major instance of a CG character in a film since Young Sherlock Holmes (1985). He was capable of 'morphing' into any person or object. The liquifying-solidifying robot's humanoid texture was layered onto a CG model to create the effect. Over 300 special effects shots made up 16 minutes of the film's running time.  

"The seemingly-indestructible Terminator android composed of morphing liquid metal was a killing, shape-shifting terminator with no emotional intelligence, usually exemplified as a policeman. The sleek, modern android was composed of poly-mimetic metal, meaning it could take on the shape, color, and texture of anything it touched (such as a porcelain-tiled floor or metal bars), and could also mimic human behavior, such as imitating the voices of its victims. It could transform its hands into jaw-like blades for impalement, and completely absorb shotgun blasts to its midsection or head. After a fiery big-rig crash in the LA flood channel, the T-1000 walked unscathed out of the flames - revealing his metallic frame before reverting back to humanoid form. In another remarkable scene, the T-1000 was shattered into pieces, but then the pieces reassembled themselves" (http://www.filmsite.org/visualeffects14.html, accessed 05-01-2013).

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Jurassic Park, the First Film to Integrate CGI and Animatronic figures into Live Action Scenes 1993

In 1993 Steven Spielberg directed the science fiction techno-thriller film Jurassic Park, based on the novel by Michael Crichton, and adapted by Crichton for the screen. It was produced by Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment, Universal City, California. With gross sales of $914,000,000 when released, Jurassic Park was also among the highest-grossing and most profitable films ever made.

The plot of Jurassic Park centered around the possibility of re-creating dinosaurs by

"cloning genetic material found in mosquitoes that fed on dinosaur blood, preserved in Dominican amber. The DNA from these samples was spliced with DNA from frogs to fill in sequence gaps. Only female dinosaurs are created in order to prevent uncontrolled breeding within the park" (Wikipedia article on Jurassic Park [film], accessed 05-25-2009)

This was the first film to integrate computer generated images and animatronic dinosaurs seemlessly into live action scenes.

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"Babylon 5," the First Television Series to Use Computer Generated Images February 22, 1993 – January 26, 1994

The science fiction television series Babylon 5, viewed from February 22 1993 to January 26, 1994, became the first television series to use computer generated images (CGI) as the primary method for its visual effects (rather than using hand-built models). It also marked the first TV use of virtual sets.

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"From Webspace to Cyberspace": A Pioneering Cultural and Historical Work December 1994

In December 1994 Kevin Hughes, then of Menlo Park, California, published privately version 1.0 of a pioneering cultural and historical work entitled From Webspace to Cyberspace.

"August 6, 1995 Announcing the release of "From Webspace to Cyberspace", a primer for the Age of the Internet. Originally released as an internal white paper at EIT in December 1994, it is now freely available. It is the sequel to "Entering the World-Wide Web: A Guide to Cyberspace".

It covers:

A brief history and overview of the World-Wide Web

An overview of today's online collaborative systems and descriptions of future work

An introduction to true cyberspace: what it means, media analyses, common myths, and applications of virtual environment technology

Future VRML issues, new tools, VRML browsers, world elements, and cyberspacial design guidelines

Descriptions of next generation VRML browsers and an analysis of navigation methods

Current and future trends in human-computer interface design, new environments, basic layouts, vision-related issues, and         input/output devices

Three-dimensional world design guidelines, with examples and never before seen 3D prototypes of collaborative spaces and universes developed at EIT

The future of the Internet: current problems with the World-Wide Web, new business models, new media, culture acceleration, and what cyberspace needs

It also includes the "History of Cyberspace", five
parallel timelines with almost 1,000 events that track:

Influential popular media and events of the last 500

The history of the Internet

The history of VR and VRML

The history of hypertext, hypermedia, and the World-Wide Web

The history of computers" (http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-talk/msg01457.html, accessed 12-04-2013).

In December 2013 version 1.1 of Hughes's paper, produced in July 1995, was available at this link.

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"Butterfly, an Information Visualizer" 1995

At the CHI '95 Proceedings Jock D. Mackinlay, Ramano Rao and Stuart K. Card of Xerox PARC published "An Organic User Interface for Searching Citation Links." This described Butterfly, an Information Visualizer application for accessing DIALOG's three Science Citation databases across the Internet.

"Network information often involves slow access that conflicts with the use of highly-interactive information visualization. Butterfly addresses this problem, integrating search, browsing, and access management via four techniques: 1) visualization supports the assimilation of retrieved information and integrates search and browsing activity, 2) automatically-created ``link-generating'' queries assemble bibliographic records that contain reference information into citation graphs, 3) asynchronous query processes explore the resulting graphs for the user, and 4) process controllers allow the user to manage these processes. We use our positive experience with the Butterfly implementation to propose a general information access approach, called Organic User Interfaces for Information Access, in which a virtual landscape grows under user control as information is accessed automatically." (Abstract).

In December 2013 an outstanding large image showing the graphic interface of Butterfly was available at this link.

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"Johnny Mnemonic": The First Film to Portray a Graphic Vision of Cyberspace June 1995

The science fiction cyberpunk action film Johnny Mnemonic, released in June 1995, was the first major motion picture to portray a graphic vision of cyberspace or the Internet. Loosely based on the short story "Johnny Mnemonic" by William Gibson, it was directed by Robert Longo, and starred Keanu ReevesDolph LundgrenTakeshiIce-T and Dina Meyer. Its graphic sequences were the first full-frame 35mm effects to be completed using IBM-compatible hardware.

Regardless of the questionable acting and primitive computer graphics, Johnny Mnemonic introduced a compelling idea: the use of hand gestures or object manipulation to gain access to information. This we did not see again until the 2002 film Minority ReportThe main character must properly manipulate a segmented pyramidal shape in order to gain access to a certain file. He twists the segments in a certain order as one manipulates a Pyraminx (a triangular version of the Rubik's Cube) until the proper sequence is performed.

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"The Site", the First TV Show to Feature a Character Animated in Real Time July 1996

While Executive Producer at NBC and MSNBC David Bohrman created The Site for MSNBC, an hour-long television program devoted to the Internet revolution. The show debuted in July 1996 with the launch of MSNBC, and aired Monday through Saturday. The Site won many awards and was named the best broadcast on Internet and high technology by its industry peers. It was also the first television show to have an award-winning website.

One of the most innovative features of The Site was the nightly segment in which the young anchor Soledad O’Brien engaged in spontaneous unscripted tech talk with a flirtatious virtual reality cartoon character named Dev Null, who was animated in real time by a Silicon Graphics ONYX computer. This was probably the first television show to feature a character animated in real time. The animated character was journalist Leo Laporte who did the voice and actions while wearing a motion capture suit. Bohrman dreamed up the idea for Dev Null the previous year while experimenting with virtual set technology at NBC.

"Laporte generated both the voice and actions while wearing a VR motion capture suit. When O'Brien sat at the espresso bar to read email from viewers, Dev flirted with her while answering her computer questions. She recalled, 'One of the reasons that segment of the show worked is that I could not see him as I was talking to him, and the segment was unscripted. He was funny, and his jokes were not gags.'

"While O'Brien looked at a piece of tape on the wall indicating Dev's virtual position, the VR suit captured Laporte's actions, and a computer program translated his body movements to create the character, while other human operators controlled facial expressions and accentuated movements of his hair. The control room juxtaposed O'Brien and Dev on the same set using a switcher.

"Laporte recalled arriving at NBC with a 90-page treatment:

"I'll never forget pitching it to NBC at 30 Rock just before Christmas 1995. Then NBC News Director Andrew Lack came in in a three-piece suit and cowboy boots. He propped his booted feet up on the table and said, 'Okay, let's hear it.' It was like something out of Seinfeld... I had hoped to be the lead reporter on the show, but the NBC executives told me I had no chance of getting on camera, so they stuck me in a VR suit and the character Dev Null was born. I won an Emmy for it, but the only other competition was a sock puppet character on the local Spanish language station, so it wasn't exactly a competitive category... The Site was a major network's idea of what a technology TV show should look like: big on production values, light on content, but it was an important moment in the mainstreaming of the Internet. I still run into people now and then who remember me as "the guy in the suit" (Wikipedia article on Dev Null, accessed 11-08-2014).

After the death of Princess Diana The Site was cancelled by MSNBC. Most of the staff of The Site was rehired by Ziff-Davis to launch ZDTV, a new channel, later known as TechTV

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Rome is Reborn on Google Earth 1997

In 1997 the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH) of the University of Virginia, the UCLA Cultural Virtual Reality Laboratory (CVRLab), the UCLA Experimential Technologies Center (ETC), the Reverse Engineering (INDACO) Lab at the Politecnico di Milano, the Ausonius Institute of the CNRS at the University of Bordeaux-3, and the University of Caen, lower Normandy, began collaboration on a project to create a digital model of ancient Rome as it appeared in late antiquity. The notional date of the model is June 21, 320 A.D.

"The primary purpose of this phase of the project was to spatialize and present information and theories about how the city looked at this moment in time, which was more or less the height of its development as the capital of the Roman Empire. A secondary, but important, goal was to create the cyberinfrastructure whereby the model could be updated, corrected, and augmented. Spatialization and presentation involve two related forms of communication: (1) the knowledge we have about the city has been used to reconstruct digitally how its topography, urban infrastructure (streets, bridges, aqueducts, walls, etc.), and individual buildings and monuments might have looked; and (2) whenever possible, the sources of archaeological information or speculative reasoning behind the digital reconstructions, as well as valuable online resources for understanding the sites of ancient Rome, have been made available to users. The model is thus a representation of the state of our knowledge (and, implicitly, of our ignorance) about the urban topography of ancient Rome at various periods of time. Beyond this primary use, the model can function in other ways. It can be used to teach students or the general public about how the city looked; it can be used to gather data not otherwise available, such as the alignment of built features in the city with respect to each other or to natural features and phenomena; and, it can be used to run urban or architectural experiments not otherwise possible, such as how well the city or the buildings within it functioned in terms of heating and ventilation, illumination, circulation of people, etc. Finally, a digital model can be easily updated to reflect corrections to the model or new archaeological discoveries."

"Starting on June 11, 2007, when the model of ancient Rome was first shown publicly at a ceremony in Rome, a number of video fly-throughs and static images of the model were posted for free public viewing online. In August, 2008, the alpha version of Rome Reborn 2.0 was demonstrated at SIGGRAPH held at the Los Angeles Convention Center. In November, 2008, the latest version of Rome Reborn 1.0 was published to the Internet as in Google Earth." (quotations from the Rome Reborn website of the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia, accessed 01-21-2009)

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The Digital Michelangelo Project 1998

Marc Levoy and team began The Digital Michelangelo Project at Stanford University in 1998 using laser scanners to digitize the statues of Michelangelo, as well as 1,163 fragments of the Forma Urbis Romae, a giant marble map of ancient Rome.

The quality of the scans was so high that the Italian government would not permit the release of the full data set on the Internet; however, the Stanford researchers built a system called ScanView that allowed viewing of details of specific parts of the statue, including parts that would be inaccessible to a normal museum visitor. In December 2013 Scanview could be downloaded at this link.

The laser scan data for Michelangelo's David was utilized in its cleaning and restoration that began in September 2002. This eventually resulted in a 2004 book entitled Exploring David: Diagnostic Tests and State of Conservation.

"In preparation for this restoration, the Galleria dell'Accademia undertook an ambitious 10-year program of scientific study of the statue and its condition. Led by Professor Mauro Matteini of CNR-ICVBC, a team of Italian scientists studied every inch of the statue using color photography, radiography (i.e. X-rays), ultraviolet fluorescence and thermographic imaging, and several other modalities. In addition, by scraping off microsamples and performing in-situ analyses, the mineralogy and chemistry of the statue and its contaminants were characterized. Finally, finite element structural analyses were performed to determine the origin of hairline cracks that are visible on his ankles and the tree stump, to decide if intervention was necessary. (They decided it wasn't; these cracks arose in 1871, when the statue briefly tilted forward 3 degrees due to settling of the ground in the Piazza Signoria. This tilt was one of the reasons they moved the statue to the Galleria dell'Accademia.)  

"The results of this diagnostic campaign are summarized in the book Exploring David . . . . The book, written in English, also contains a history of the statue and its past restorations, a visual analysis of the chisel marks of Michelangelo as evident from the statue surface, and an essay by museum director Franca Falletti on the difficulties of restoring famous artworks. . . .  

"Aside from its sweeping scientific vision, what is remarkable about this book is that many of the studies employed a three-dimensional computer model of the statue - the model created by us during the Digital Michelangelo Project. Although we worked hard to create this model, and we envisioned 3D models eventually being used to support art conservation, we did not expect such uses to become practical so soon. After all, our model of the David is huge; outside our laboratory and a few others in the computer graphics field, little software exists that can manipulate such large models. However, with help from Roberto Scopigno and his team at CNR-Pisa, museum director Franca Falletti prodded, encouraged, and cajoled the scientists working under her direction to use our model wherever possible. We contributed a chapter to this book, on the scanning of the statue, but we take no credit for its use in the rest of the book. In fact, to us at Stanford University, the timing of our scanning project relative to the statue's restoration and the creation of this book seems merely fortuitious. However, Falletti insists that she had this use of our model in mind all along! In any case, this is a landmark book - the most extensive use that has ever been made of a 3D computer model in an art conservation project" (http://graphics.stanford.edu/projects/mich/book/book.html, accessed 12-23-2009).

On July 21, 2009 the team announced that they had a "full-resolution (1/4mm) 3D model of Michelangelo's 5-meter statue of David", containing "about 1 billion polygons."

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2000 – 2005

The Film: "A. I. Artificial Intelligence" 2001

Steven Spielberg

The movie poster for A.I. Artificial Intelligence

Stanley Kubrick

In 2001 American director, screen writer and film producer Steven Spielberg directed, co-authored and produced, through DreamWorks and Amblin Entertainment, the science fiction film A.I. Artificial Intelligence, telling the story of David, an android robot child programmed with the ability to love and to dream. The film explored the hopes and fears involved with efforts to simulate human thought processes, and the social consequences of creating robots that may be better than people at specialized tasks.

The film was a 1970s project of Stanley Kubrick, who eventually turned it over to Spielberg. The project languished in development hell for nearly three decades before technology advanced sufficiently for a successful production. The film required enormously complex puppetry, computer graphics, and make-up prosthetics, which are well-described and explained in the supplementary material in the two-disc special edition of the film issued on DVD in 2002.

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The First Attempt to Make a Photorealistic Computer Animated 3D Feature Film July 11, 2001

Hironobu Sakaguchi

Final Fantasy game logo

Square Company, Ltd Logo

Final Fantasy movie poster

On July 11, 2001 Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, a computer animated (CGI) science fiction film by Japanese game designer, game director and game producer Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of the Final Fantasy series of role-playing games, was released in the United States by Columbia Pictures. This film, produced by Square Pictures, Honolulu, Hawaii, was the first attempt to make a photorealistic rendered 3D feature film.

"Square Pictures rendered the film using some of the most advanced processing capabilities available for film animating at the time. A render farm consisting of 960 workstations was tasked with rendering each of the film's 141,964 frames. It took a staff of 200 and some four years to complete the film. Square intended to make the character of Aki Ross into the world's first photorealistic computer-animated actress, with plans for appearances in multiple films in different roles. 

"The Spirits Within debuted to mixed critical reception, but was widely praised for the realism of the computer-animated characters. Due to rising costs, the film greatly exceeded its original budget towards the end of production, reaching a final cost of US$137 million, of which it made back only $85 million at the box office. The film has been called a box office bomb, and is blamed for the demise of Square Pictures" (Wikipedia article on Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, accessed 03-23-2012).

"Roger Ebert was a strong advocate of the film; he gave the film 3 1/2 stars out of 4, praising it as a "technical milestone" while conceding that its 'nuts and bolts' story lacked 'the intelligence and daring of, say, Steven Spielberg's A.I.'. He also expressed a desire for the film to succeed in hopes of seeing more films made in its image, though he was skeptical of its ability to be accepted" (Wikipedia article on Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, accessed 05-05-2009).

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"Minority Report": The Movie 2002

Steven Spielberg

The movie poster for Minority Report

The cover art for Minority Report by Philip Dick

Philip Dick

Steven Spielberg directed the science fiction 2002 film Minority Report, loosely based on the short story, "The Minority Report" by Philip K. Dick.

"It is set primarily in Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia in the year 2054, where "Precrime", a specialized police department, apprehends criminals based on foreknowledge provided by three psychics called 'precogs'. The cast includes Tom Cruise as Precrime officer John Anderton, Colin Farrell as Department of Justice agent Danny Witwer, Samantha Morton as the senior precog Agatha, and Max von Sydow as Anderton's superior Lamar Burgess. The film has a distinctive look, featuring desaturated colors that make it almost resemble a black-and-white film, yet the blacks and shadows have a high contrast, resembling film noir."

"Some of the technologies depicted in the film were later developed in the real world – for example, multi-touch interfaces are similar to the glove-controlled interface used by Anderton. Conversely, while arguing against the lack of physical contact in touch screen phones, PC Magazine's Sascha Segan argued in February 2009, 'This is one of the reasons why we don't yet have the famous Minority Report information interface. In that movie, Tom Cruise donned special gloves to interact with an awesome PC interface where you literally grab windows and toss them around the screen. But that interface is impractical without the proper feedback—without actually being able to feel where the edges of the windows are' " (Wikipedia article on Minority Report [film] accessed 05-25-2009).

The two-disc special edition of the film issued on DVD in 2002 contained excellent supplementary material on the special digital effects.

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Machinima is Founded 2002

Paul Marino

In 2002 Paul Marino founded the Academy of Machinima Arts and Sciences in New York.

"So, what is Machinima?

"Machinima (muh-sheen-eh-mah) is filmmaking within a real-time, 3D virtual environment, often using 3D video-game technologies. 

"In an expanded definition, it is the convergence of filmmaking, animation and game development. Machinima is real-world filmmaking techniques applied within an interactive virtual space where characters and events can be either controlled by humans, scripts or artificial intelligence. By combining the techniques of filmmaking, animation production and the technology of real-time 3D game engines, Machinima makes for a very cost- and time-efficient way to produce films, with a large amount of creative control" 

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ECHO (European Cultural Heritage Online) is Founded December 1, 2002

Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics logo

Max Plank Institute for the History of Science logo

The ECHO website homepage interface

On December 1, 2002 the ECHO initiative was announced in Berlin.  Funded by the European Commission, it was founded by the Max Planck Institute for the History of Art in Rome, by the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, and by the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, together with their international partners.

"The new European Commission-funded project ECHO (European Cultural Heritage Online) to create an IT-based infrastructure for the humanities is taking shape today with its kick-off-meeting held in Berlin. With a budget of approximately 1.6 million Euros 16 partners from 9 European countries including candidate countries together with their subcontractors, the initiative aims at achieving four major goals, scientific, technological, cultural and political, until May 2004:  

"By 1) improving the situation for the humanities concerning the new information technologies through

"2) the fostering of a new IT-based infrastructure, adequate to future information technologies,

"3) cultural heritage in Europe will be brought online and

"4) be made freely accessible without any commercial constraints.

"The project, coordinated by the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, is highly welcomed by the EU commission as a chance to strengthen the competiveness of European research by promoting an urgently needed concept for good practice in scholarly research in the humanities. In order to exploit the innovative potential of the new information technologies, the project will contribute to overcome the present fragmentation of approaches to transfer cultural heritage to the Internet.  

"At present Europe lags behind in developing a large-scale infrastructure for the humanities adequate to the Internet age and competitive with similar ventures in the US. As a Europe-wide effort, ECHO aims at developing high-quality research in line with the ambition of the European Research Area and competitive with US and Japanese ventures. Only by overcoming the limitations of national perspectives can the critical mass be brought together that ensures the self-organisation of culture in the new medium.  

"If the new media comprises an adequate representation of human cultural diversity they can offer also new opportunities reflecting on possible links and similarities e.g. between European and non-European cultures. A culturally informed Web may thus even constitute a public think-tank in which cultural diversity drives rather than conflicts with communication.  

"The ECHO project is constituted by its main partners as well as by subcontractors. Even now, however, the informal network of actors willing to contribute extends far beyond the group of applicants. Some 25 academic, governmental, and private institutions from 15 European and 3 non-European countries (China, Mexico, and the USA) have declared their adherence to the project; they will be contacted during its first phase.  

"The single most important added European value offered by the project to the citizens of Europe is a contribution to the preservation of, and an improved and extended access to, their own European cultural heritage. Its enhanced availability on the Internet will also create new opportunities for shaping a polyvalent European identity, including a realisation of the non-European origins of essential presuppositions of European culture as well as an awareness of its historical pitfalls. Border-crossing technologies such as language tools adapted to cultural sources contribute to European integration by making these treasures accessible to all Europeans (e-Europe). ECHO will provide web-accessible multimedia content together with navigation facilities, hence making it attractive for researchers, teachers, students, journalists, and also for the general public.  

"In addition, the ECHO project will be directly concerned with copyright laws and open source policies. It will provide an opportunity for reflecting on the ongoing developments from a practical point of view and may lead to the definition of new policies encouraging the transfer of cultural heritage to the existing and new media.  

"The project is defined in three major steps.  

"• An assessment of the present situation in relation to bringing European cultural heritage online. In view of the fragmentation of endeavours presently undertaken, it is necessary to assess the implementation of Information Technology for preserving, sharing, and studying this heritage in different disciplines and nations.

• The exploration of a novel IT-based cooperative research infrastructure. The project will create, within its limited scope, a model implementation of a new cooperative research infrastructure, that aims at mobilising and bringing together all relevant actors (universities, museums, libraries, archives, (national) research councils, digital heritage organisa-tions, and companies) in the broad field of the humanities and cultural heritage in Europe.

"• A paradigmatic proof of the new potentials for research offered by this infrastructure. By taking up four paradigmatic content areas in the humanities, from the history of art, the history of science, language studies, and social and cultural anthropology, respectively, the project aims at demonstrating the innovative potential for research offered by this infrastructure.

"The highly ambitious ECHO project aims at the creation of a progressively growing agora, defining the management structure, data formats, tools and workflows. This in turn is intended to serve as a model for a larger-scale network within the 6th Framework Program of the EU. The subsequent project, possibly labelled ECHO 2, shall bring a major contribution to the preservation of Europe's cultural heritage as well as improved and extended access to this heritage for both scholars and the general public alike. This transformation of the Internet into a semantic web allowing the exchange and processing of information in the language of human culture within an emerging Open Library will serve as a framework for cooperative work on the sources and for the presentation of its results. It will also show socio-economic effects such as becoming a central resource of technology for storing and distributing information for institutions who lack such means; or for creating a basis for virtual tourism into the digitised realm of our rich cultural heritage in Europe." 

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"Grand Text Auto" A Group Blog May 2003 – May 2009

Grand Text Auto logo

In May 2003 Mary Flanagan, Michael Mateas, Nick Montfort, Scott Rettberg, Andrew Stern, and Noah Wardrip-Fruin founded the group blog Grand Text Auto. It was 

"about computer mediated and computer generated works of many forms: interactive fiction, net.art, electronic poetry, interactive drama, hypertext fiction, computer games of all sorts, shared virtual environments, and more."

In May 2009 GTxA became "an aggregator for a distributed group of blogs in which we participate. The authors of these blogs work as both theorists and developers, and are interested in authorship, design, and technology, as well as issues of interaction and reception."

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2005 – 2010

Pixar at MOMA December 14, 2005

The Pixar logo

A poster for Pixar at the Moma

The Moma

On December 14, 2005 the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, opened PIXAR: 20 Years of Animation:

"The Most Extensive Gallery Exhibition that MoMA has ever devoted to Animation along with a Retrospective of Pixar Features and Shorts."

Notably MoMA found it unnecessary to characterize the exhibition as "computer animation" since by this time virtually all animation was done by computer. They published a 175 page printed catalogue of the exhibition.

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Disney Acquires Pixar January 24, 2006

The Pixar version of the Disney logo, used in Pixar movies

The Pixar logo, including a number of popular Pixar characters

Steve Jobs

The Walt Disney Company, born in the days of manual animation, acquired Pixar, the computer animation company, making Steve Jobs the largest Disney stockholder.

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Molecular Animation July 30 – August 3, 2006

At Siggraph2006, held in Boston, Massachusetts from July 30 to August 3, 2006, BioVisions, a scientific visualization program at Harvard’s Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Xvivo, a Connecticut-based scientific animation company, introduced the three-minute molecular animation video, The Inner Life of the Cell.

The film depicted marauding white blood cells attacking infections in the body. 




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Photosynth Demonstrated March 2007

Blaise Agüera y Arcas

A Seadragon browser demo

The Photosynth interface

In March 2007 physicist and software engineer Blaise Agüera y Arcas, architect of Seadragon, and co-creator of Photosynth, demonstrated Photosynth in a video dowloadable at the TED website at this link.

Using techniques of computational bibliography, in collaboration with Paul Needham at Princeton's Scheide Library, Agüera y Arcas also did significant original research in the technology of the earliest printing from movable type.



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The First Embassy of a Real Country in a Virtual World May 30, 2007

Carl Bildt

The Second Swedish Embasy in the virtual world of Second Life

In a real-world announcement, on May 30, 2007 Carl Bildt, Foreign Minister of Sweden, opened the Second House of Sweden, an embassy in the virtual world of Second Life. A replica of the Swedish Embassy to the United States, this was the first embassy of a real country in a virtual world.

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Brainbow: A Colorful Technique to Visualize Brain Circuitry November 2007

Jeff W. Lichtman

Joshua R. Sanes

Three brainbows of mouse neurons from Lichtman and Sanes, 2008.

A. A motor nerve innervating ear muscle

B. An axon tract in the brain stem

C. The hippocampul dentate gyrus

In November 2007 Jeff W. Lichtman and Joshua R. Sanes, both professors of Molecular & Cellular Biology in the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School, and colleagues, published "Transgenic strategies for combinatorial expression of fluorescent proteins in the nervous system," Nature 450 (7166): 56–62. doi:10.1038/nature06293. This described the visualization process they called "Brainbow."

"Detailed analysis of neuronal network architecture requires the development of new methods. Here we present strategies to visualize synaptic circuits by genetically labelling neurons with multiple, distinct colours. In Brainbow transgenes, Cre/lox recombination is used to create a stochastic choice of expression between three or more fluorescent proteins (XFPs). Integration of tandem Brainbow copies in transgenic mice yielded combinatorial XFP expression, and thus many colours, thereby providing a way to distinguish adjacent neurons and visualize other cellular interactions. As a demonstration, we reconstructed hundreds of neighbouring axons and multiple synaptic contacts in one small volume of a cerebellar lobe exhibiting approximately 90 colours. The expression in some lines also allowed us to map glial territories and follow glial cells and neurons over time in vivo. The ability of the Brainbow system to label uniquely many individual cells within a population may facilitate the analysis of neuronal circuitry on a large scale." (From the Nature abstract).

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Viewing the Illustrations of a Journal Article in Three Dimensions September 30, 2008

On September 30, 2008 the Optical Society and the National Library of Medicine announced Interactive Science Publishing.

" 'ISP' represents a new direction for OSA publications. The ISP articles, which appear in OSA journals, link out to large 2D and 3D datasets—such as a CT scan of the human chest—that can be viewed interactively with special software developed by OSA in cooperation with Kitware, Inc., and the National Library of Medicine."

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"Tango with Cows" : A Virtual Exhibition November 18, 2008

Cover of Tango with Cows, Vasily Kamensky.  Please click on image to view larger image.

On November 18, 2008 The Getty Museum opened an exhibition entitled Tango with Cows: Book Art of the Russian Avant-Garde 1910-1917. On the website of the show you could turn the pages of virtual copies of rare art books exhibited, view English translations, and hear readings of the text in Russian. (I last accessed the website in December 2013).

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Discovery of a Previously Unknown Self- Portrait of Leonardo February 28, 2009

On February 28, 2009 Italian researchers reported the discovery of a previously unknown self-portrait by Leonardo da Vinci drawn when the artist was a young man. The faint pencil sketch was recognized underneath writing on a sheet of the “Codex on the Flight of Birds”, written between 1490 and 1505 and preserved in the Biblioteca Reale, Torino, Italy.

Piero Angela, an Italian scientific journalist, studying the document noticed the faint outline of a human nose hidden underneath lines of ink handwriting. It struck him as being similar in shape and drawing style to a later self-portrait of Leonardo. It is thought that Leonardo first made the drawing during the 1480s and reused the sheet for his manuscript on bird flight.

"Over months of micro-pixel work, graphic designers gradually 'removed' the text by making it white instead of black, revealing the drawing beneath. "What emerged was the face of a young to middle-aged man with long hair, a short beard and a pensive gaze.

"Mr Angela was struck by similarities to a famous self-portrait of Leonardo, made when the artist was an old man around 1512. The portrait, in red chalk, is kept in Turin’s Biblioteca Reale, or Royal Library.

"The research team used criminal investigation techniques to digitally correlate the newly-discovered sketch with the well-known portrait.

"They employed facial reconfiguration technology to age the drawing of the younger man, hollowing the cheeks, darkening the eyes and furrowing the brow.

"The two portraits were so similar 'that we may regard the hypothesis that the images portray the same person as reasonable', police photo-fit experts declared.

"To make doubly sure, the ageing process was reversed, with researchers using a digital 'facelift' to rejuvenate the older self-portrait.

"After removing the older Leonardo’s wrinkles and filling out his cheeks, the image that emerged was almost identical to the newly discovered sketch.

" 'When I actually tried to age the face [of the newly discovered portrait], and to put the hair and the beard of the famous self-portrait around it, a shiver ran down my spine,' said Mr Angelo. 'It resembled Leonardo like a twin brother. To uncover a new Leonardo drawing was astonishing.'

"The similarities were also studied by a facial reconstruction surgeon in Rome. '[He] said the two faces could well belong to the same man at different times in his life', said Mr Angelo.

"A world expert on Leonardo, Carlo Pedretti from the University of California, described the sketch as 'one of the most important acquisitions in the study of Leonardo, in the study of his image, and in the study of his thought too' (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/italy/4884789/Leonardo-da-Vinci-self-portrait-discovered-hidden-in-manuscript.html, accessed 02-28-2009).

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A Higher Resolution Map of Knowledge Than Can be Produced from Citation Analysis March 11, 2009

On March 11, 2009 Johan Bollen of Los Alamos National Laboratory and six co-authors published "Clickstream Data Yields High Resolution Maps of Science" in the open access online journal Plos ONE.  The map was based on clickstream data collected when online readers switched from one journal to another, allowing the collection of about one billion data points—a far greater number, and presumably more reflective of actual reading patterns, than the prior method of citation analysis developed by the Institute for Scientific Information (now Thomson Scientific's Web of Science). That method traces the relationship of footnotes in scholarly journals.

"Maps of science derived from citation data visualize the relationships among scholarly publications or disciplines. They are valuable instruments for exploring the structure and evolution of scholarly activity. Much like early world charts, these maps of science provide an overall visual perspective of science as well as a reference system that stimulates further exploration. However, these maps are also significantly biased due to the nature of the citation data from which they are derived: existing citation databases overrepresent the natural sciences; substantial delays typical of journal publication yield insights in science past, not present; and connections between scientific disciplines are tracked in a manner that ignores informal cross-fertilization.

"Scientific publications are now predominantly accessed online. Scholarly web portals provide access to publications in the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities. They routinely log the interactions of users with their collections. The resulting log datasets have a set of attractive characteristics when compared to citation datasets. First, the number of logged interactions now greatly surpasses the volume of all existing citations. This is illustrated by Elsevier's announcement, in 2006, of 1 billion (1×109) article downloads since the launch of its Science Direct portal in April 1999. In contrast, around the time of Elsevier's announcement, the total number of citations in Thomson Scientific's Web of Science from the year 1900 to the present does not surpass 600 million (6×108). Second, log datasets reflect the activities of a larger community as they record the interactions of all users of scholarly portals, including scientific authors, practitioners of science, and the informed public. In contrast, citation datasets only reflect the activities of scholarly authors. Third, log datasets reflect scholarly dynamics in real-time because web portals record user interactions as soon as an article becomes available at the time of its online publication. In contrast, a published article faces significant delays before it eventually appears in citation datasets: it first needs to be cited in a new article that itself faces publication delays, and subsequently those citations need to be picked up by citation databases.

"Given the aforementioned characteristics of scholarly log data, we investigated a methodological issue: can valid, high resolution maps of science be derived from clickstream data and can clickstream data be leveraged to yield meaningful insights in the structure and dynamics of scholarly behavior? To do this we first aggregated log datasets from a variety of scholarly web portals, created and analyzed a clickstream model of journal relationships from the aggregate log dataset, and finally visualized these journal relationships in a first-ever map of science derived from scholarly log data" (http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0004803#pone.0004803-Brody1, accessed 03-19-2009).

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The First Magazine Cover Created as iPhone Art June 1, 2009

Artist Jorge Columbo's cover art for the New Yorker magazine of June 1, 2009 drawn entirely on an iPhone using the Brushes app was the first iPhone art published as the cover of a major magazine.

"It has been widely reported that my drawings are now made on an iPhone... Considering all the sketches and watercolors and photographs I have done in the USA for the past twenty years, my output in the Brushes app since I bought a G3 last February is still rather small. It has attracted more attention than anything else I have done: it seems people can't resist a nice tech story. But it's a happy affair. As much as I enjoy and admire other media, drawing on a screen that's always bright even on a dark street, with no paint to carry, no brushes to wash, and countless levels of "undo", seems to agree with me. I always work on location, drawing everything from scratch, with no use of photography whatsoever. (The app churns out Quicktime movies that detail each brushtroke, as seen in The New Yorker's website; it mercifully ignores all the trial-and-errors and failed attempts, making my progression look uncannily flawless. That's so not true.) I could carry a pad or even an easel around. But drawing on a phone is so discreet, so casual" (http://www.drawger.com/jorgecolombo/?section=articles&article_id=9154, accessed 01-07-2010).

♦ On January 07, 2010 you could watch a series of Quicktime movies of Jorge Columbo creating iPhone paintings on the New Yorker website at this link: http://www.newyorker.com/video?videoID=40951183001.

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Displaying Crowdsourced Road Congestion Data on Google Maps August 25, 2009

Google announced in its blog on August 25, 2009 that it was displaying crowdsourced congestion data from GPS enabled cell phones on Google maps.

". . . When you choose to enable Google Maps with My Location, your phone sends anonymous bits of data back to Google describing how fast you're moving. When we combine your speed with the speed of other phones on the road, across thousands of phones moving around a city at any given time, we can get a pretty good picture of live traffic conditions. We continuously combine this data and send it back to you for free in the Google Maps traffic layers. It takes almost zero effort on your part — just turn on Google Maps for mobile before starting your car — and the more people that participate, the better the resulting traffic reports get for everybody.

"This week we're expanding our traffic layer to cover all U.S. highways and arterials when data is available. We're able to do this thanks in no small part to the data contributed by our users. This is exactly the kind of technology that we love at Google because it's so easy for a single person to help out, but can be incredibly powerful when a lot of people use it together. Imagine if you knew the exact traffic speed on every road in the city — every intersection, backstreet and freeway on-ramp — and how that would affect the way you drive, help the environment and impact the way our government makes road planning decisions. This idea, which we geeks call 'crowdsourcing,' isn't new. Ever since GPS location started coming to mainstream devices, people have been thinking of ways to use it to figure out how fast the traffic is moving. But for us to really make it work, we had to solve problems of scale (because you can't get useful traffic results until you have a LOT of devices reporting their speeds) and privacy (because we don't want anybody to be able to analyze Google's traffic data to see the movement of a particular phone, even when that phone is completely anonymous)" (http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/08/bright-side-of-sitting-in-traffic.html, accessed 12-18-2011).

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An Algorithm to Decipher Ancient Texts September 2, 2009

"Researchers in Israel say they have developed a computer program that can decipher previously unreadable ancient texts and possibly lead the way to a Google-like search engine for historical documents.

"The program uses a pattern recognition algorithm similar to those law enforcement agencies have adopted to identify and compare fingerprints.

"But in this case, the program identifies letters, words and even handwriting styles, saving historians and liturgists hours of sitting and studying each manuscript.

"By recognizing such patterns, the computer can recreate with high accuracy portions of texts that faded over time or even those written over by later scribes, said Itay Bar-Yosef, one of the researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

" 'The more texts the program analyses, the smarter and more accurate it gets,' Bar-Yosef said.

"The computer works with digital copies of the texts, assigning number values to each pixel of writing depending on how dark it is. It separates the writing from the background and then identifies individual lines, letters and words.

"It also analyses the handwriting and writing style, so it can 'fill in the blanks' of smeared or faded characters that are otherwise indiscernible, Bar-Yosef said.

"The team has focused their work on ancient Hebrew texts, but they say it can be used with other languages, as well. The team published its work, which is being further developed, most recently in the academic journal Pattern Recognition due out in December but already available online. A program for all academics could be ready in two years, Bar-Yosef said. And as libraries across the world move to digitize their collections, they say the program can drive an engine to search instantaneously any digital database of handwritten documents. Uri Ehrlich, an expert in ancient prayer texts who works with Bar-Yosef's team of computer scientists, said that with the help of the program, years of research could be done within a matter of minutes. 'When enough texts have been digitized, it will manage to combine fragments of books that have been scattered all over the world,' Ehrlich said" (http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE58141O20090902, accessed 09-02-2009).

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Google Introduces Google Goggles December 8, 2009

On Cember 8, 2009 Google introduced Google Goggles image recognition and search technology for the Android mobile device operating system.  If you photographed certain types of individual objects with your mobile phone the program would recognize them and automatically display links to relevant information on the Internet.If you pointed your phone at a building the program would identify it by GPS and identify it. Then if you clicked on the name of the building it would bring up relevant Internet links.

♦ On May 7, 2010 you could watch a video describing the features of Google Goggles at this link:


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2010 – 2012

"Atlas of Science: Visualizing What We Know" 2010

In 2010 Katy Börner

Professor of Information Science at the School of Library and Information Science, Adjunct Professor at the School of Informatics and Computing, Adjunct Professor at the Department of Statistics in the College of Arts and Sciences, Core Faculty of Cognitive Science, Research Affiliate of the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research and Biocomplexity Institute, Member of the Advanced Visualization Laboratory, Leader of the Information Visualization Lab, and Founding Director of the Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN and Visiting Professor at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) in The Netherlands,

published Atlas of Science: Visualizing What We Know in Cambridge, Massachusetts at MIT Press. This spectacular full color oblong folio book with an historical orientation represented one of the most original and certainly one of the most beautiful scholarly works ever published in the history of science. It grew out of an exhibit, Places & Spaces: Mapping Science, a ten year exhibition program that went public in 2005. This exhibit, which pulled together the work of numerous collaborators, was

"meant to inspire cross-disciplinary discussion on how to best track and communicate human activity and scientific progress on a global scale. It has two components: the physical part supports the close inspection of high quality reproductions of maps for display at conferences and education centers; the online counterpart provides links to a selected series of maps and their makers along with detailed explanations of how these maps work. The exhibit is a 10-year effort. Each year, 10 new maps are added resulting in 100 maps total in 2014."

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"Cartographies of Time: A History of the Timeline" 2010

In 2010 American intellectual historians Daniel Rosenberg and Anthony Grafton issued Cartographies of Time through the Princeton Architectural Press in New York. A fully illustrated history of graphic visualization of time and timelines from circa 400 CE to the present, this beautifully designed and produced work is an authoritative contribution to the history of information graphics with respect to time. In writing this work the authors drew attention to an aspect of historical writing that is generally undervalued by historians:

"Another reason for the gap in our historical and theoretical understanding of timelines is the relatively low status that we generally grant to chronology as a kind of study. Though we use chronologies all the time, and could not do without them, we typically see them as only distillations of complex historical narratives and ideas. Chronologies work, and—as far as most people are concerned—that's enough. But, as we will show in this book, it wasn't always so; from the classical period to the Renaissance in Europe, chronology was among the most revered of scholarly pursuits. Indeed, in some respects, it held a status higher than the study of history itself. While history dealt in stories, chronology dealt in facts. Moreover, the facts of chronology had significant implications outside of the academic study of history. For Christians, getting chronology right was the key to many practical matters such as knowing when to cleebrate Easter and weightly ones such as knowing when the Apocalypse was nigh.

"Yet, as historian Hayden White has argued, despite the clear cultural importance of chronology, it has been difficult to induce Western historians to think of it as anything more than a rudimentary form of historiography. The traditional account of the birth of modern historical thinking traces a path from the enumerated (but not yet narrated) medieval date lists called annals, through the narrated (but not yet narrative) accounts called chronicles, to fully narrative forms of historiography that emerge with modernity itself. According to this account, for something to qualify as historiography, it is not enough that it 'deal in real, rather than merely imaginery, events; and it is not enough that [it represent] events in its order of discourse according to the chronological framework in which they originally occurred. The events must be...revealed as possessing a structure, an order of meaning, that they do not possess as mere sequence. Long thought of as 'mere sequences,' in our histories of history, chronologies have usually been left out.

"But, as White argues, there is nothing 'mere' in the problem of assembiing coherent chronologies nor their visual analogues. Like their modern successors, traditional chronographic forms performed both rote historical work and heavy conceptual lifting. They assembled, selected, and organized diverse bits of historical information in the form of dated lists. And the chronologies of a given period may tell us as much about its visions of past and future as do its historical narratives" (Rosenberg & Grafon p. 11).

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"Whatever Happened to Second Life?" January 4, 2010

On January 4, 2010 Barry Collins, news, features, and online editor of PCPro wrote in PCPro.co.uk "Whatever Happened to Second Life?"

"Three years ago, I underwent one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life – and I barely even left the office.  

"I spent a week virtually living and breathing inside Second Life: the massively multiplayer online world that contains everything from lottery games to libraries, penthouses to pubs, skyscrapers to surrogacy clinics.

"Oh, and an awful lot of virtual sex.  

"Back then, the world and his dog were falling over themselves to “be a part of it”. Rock stars were queuing up to play virtual gigs, Microsoft and IBM were setting up elaborate pixellated offices to host staff training seminars, Reuters even despatched a correspondent to report back on the latest in-world developments.

"At its peak, the Second Life economy had more money swilling about than several third-world countries. It had even produced its own millionaire, Anshe Chung, who made a very real fortune from buying and selling property that existed only on Second Life servers.  

"Three years on, and the hype has been extinguished. Second Life has seen its status as the web wonderchild supplanted by Facebook and Twitter. The newspapers have forgotten about it, the Reuters correspondent has long since cleared his virtual desk, and you can walk confidently around tech trade shows without a ponytailed “Web 2.0 Consultant” offering to put your company on the Second Life map for the price of a company car.  "

"But what has happened to Second Life? Have the hundreds of thousands of registered players logged off and found a real life? Has the Second Life economy collapsed? And what’s become of the extroverts, entrepreneurs and evangelists I encountered on my first visit? There’s only one way to find out. I’m going back in."

"Has Second Life become a digital ghost town? Not according to its makers, Linden Labs. 'In total, users around the world have spent more than one billion hours in Second Life,' the company claimed in September 

"And it isn’t just using that big figure to distract attention from a slowing interest in the online world: 'user hours grew 33% year-on-year to an all-time high of 126 million in Q2 2009,' Linden insists."

"A little research soon reveals why Second Life seems a lot quieter than the numbers suggest. In June, the company opened Zindra – Second Life’s 'adult continent', a huge plot of the virtual universe dedicated to content rated as 'mature', 'adult' or even 'PG'.  

"Given that sex and gambling accounted for the majority of the 'most popular places' when I first visited, it was suddenly apparent why I was as lonely as a cloud in the parts of the Second Life universe that wouldn’t upset the clergy.  

"So why did Linden establish its very own red-light district? It seems the company decided it was time to clean up its act. In 2008, a management shake-up saw founder and CEO Philip Rosedale move into the role of chairman; his replacement was Mark Kingdon, a man who spent 12 years as a partner at PriceWaterhouseCoopers – about as far from Linden’s 'anything goes' culture as you could possibly get."

"Kingdon apparently realised that companies such as IBM (which has more than 50 in-game properties) and Microsoft don’t want their reputations sullied by being part of a virtual world where XXX DANA’S NAUGHTY PLAYHOUSE XXX is the star attraction.

"So instead of bulldozing the sex shops and brothels, Linden decided to relocate them to their own dedicated island. Now Big Blue and the blue-movie theatres can both comfortably entertain their clients, and never the twain shall meet.

"Other vices were quashed a little less amicably. In 2007, Linden caused enormous upset after shutting down casinos and other in-world gambling dens overnight, following an FBI investigation into whether the site was breaking the US ban on online gambling. People who’d invested enormous amounts of time and hard cash into developing their own casinos found they’d literally been wiped off the map, without compensation" (http://www.pcpro.co.uk/features/354457/whatever-happened-to-second-life/1, accessed 01-27-2010).

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Probably the First Fully Visually Satisfying Interactive eBook April 5, 2010

On April 5, 2010 Theodore Gray, co-founder of Wolfram Research, makers of Mathematica, as well as a Popular Science columnist, and an element collector, issued the ebook version of his 2009 printed book, The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe, for the Apple iPad.

Gray's ebook may have been the first interactive book to take full advantage of the features of the iPad, including splendid high resolution graphics, the ability to rotate objects, the ability to visualize objects in 3-dimensions using inexpensive 3-D glasses, and full connectivity to the Wolfram Alpha knowledge engine for additional data.

♦ In December 2013 a video which Gray discussed the features, design, and production of the ebook, The Elements was available from YouTube at this link

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The First Pulitizer Prizes for Internet Journalism April 12, 2010

On April 12, 2010 Sheri Fink, MD, PhD of New York-based ProPublica.org received the Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting for her story, The Deadly Choices at Memorial. The story was published on the Propublica website on August 27, 2009 and co-published in the New York Times Magazine on August 30, 2009.

Political cartoonist Mark Fiore, whose work appears on San Francisco-based SFGate.com, won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning. Fiore produced animated editorial cartoons for publication on the Internet.

These were the first Pulitzer Prizes awarded for Internet-based journalism.

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NCBI Introduces Images, a Database of More than 2.5 Million Images in Biomedical Literature October 2010

In October 2010 the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a division of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), introduced Images, an online database of more than 2.5 million images and figures from medical and life sciences journals. 

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Google Earth 6: Enhanced 3D, 3D Trees, Enhanced Historical Imagery November 30, 2010

Google Earth 6, introduced on November 30, 2010, enabled the user to "fly from outer space down to the streets with the new Street View and easily navigate. . . . Switch to ground-level view to see the same location in 3D."  

The program also introduced 3D trees in locations all over the world, and a more user-friendly interface for the historical imagery enabling comparison of recent and historical satellite imagery when available.

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Introduction of the Google Ngram Viewer December 2010

In December 2010 Google introduced the Google Ngram Viewer, a phrase-usage graphing tool developed by Jon Orwant and Will Brockman of Google that charts the yearly count of selected n-grams (contiguous sequences of n items from a given sequence of text or speech) in the Google Ngram word-search database. The words or phrases (or ngrams) are matched by case-sensitive spelling, comparing exact uppercase letters, and plotted on the graph if found in 40 or more books during each year of the requested year-range.

"The word-search database was created by Google Labs, based originally on 5.2 million books, published between 1500 and 2008, containing 500 billion words in American English, British English, French, German, Spanish, Russian, or Chinese. Italian words are counted by their use in other languages. A user of the Ngram tool has the option to select among the source languages for the word-search operations" (Wikipedia article on Google Ngram viewer, accessed 12-08-2013).

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3D Maps for Android Mobil Devices December 16, 2010

On December 16, 2010 Google announced Google Maps 5.0 for Android, with two significant new features: 3D interaction and offline reliability.

"In order to create these features, we rebuilt Maps using vector graphics to dynamically draw the map as you use it. Building a vector graphics engine capable of achieving the visual quality and performance level you expect from Google Maps was a major technical challenge and enables all sorts of future possibilities. So we wanted to give you a closer look under the hood at the technology driving the next generation of mobile maps.

". . . . Previously, Google Maps downloaded the map as sets of individual 256x256 pixel 'image tiles.'Each pre-rendered image tile was downloaded with its own section of map imagery, roads, labels and other features baked right in. Google Maps would download each tile as you needed it and then stitch sets together to form the map you see. It takes more than 360 billion tiles to cover the whole world at 20 zoom levels! Now, we use vector graphics to dynamically draw the map. Maps will download 'vector tiles' that describe the underlying geometry of the map. You can think of them as the blueprints needed to draw a map, instead of static map images. Because you only need to download the blueprints, the amount of data needed to draw maps from vector tiles is drastically less than when downloading pre-rendered image tiles. Google Maps isn’t the first mobile app to use vector graphics—in fact, Google Earth and our Navigation (Beta) feature do already. But a combination of modern device hardware and innovative engineering allow us to stream vector tiles efficiently and render them smoothly, while maintaining the speed and readability we require in Google Maps" (The Official Google Blog, 12-17-2010).

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"Visual Complexity: Mapping Patterns of Information" 2011

In 2011 Manuel Lima, who characterized himself on his website as an "Interaction Designer, Information Architect, and Design Researcher," published Visual Complexity: Mapping Patterns of Information through Princeton Architectural Press in New York. This spectacular, modernistically designed, full color book may best be characterized as two books in one. Its first 80 pages are a profound intellectual and visual interpretation of landmarks in information visualization from the ancient world through the early twentieth century. The remainder of the book illustrates, analyzes and classifies types of state of the art visualizations of complex information sets. 

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The Google Art Project February 1, 2011

Bringing technology developed for Street View indoors, Google introduced The Art Project.  Simultaneously they introduced an Art Project channel on YouTube.

These projects allowed you to take virtual tours of major museums, view relevant background material about art, store high resolution images, share images and commentaries with friends.

Each of the 17 museums involved also chose one artwork to be photographed using gigapixel photo capturing technology, resulting in an image on the computer containing seven billion pixels and providing detail not visible to the naked eye.

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The U. S. National Broadband Map February 17, 2011

The National Broadband Map (NBM), a searchable and interactive website that allows users to view broadband availability across every neighborhood in the United States, was first published.

The NBM was created by the U. S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), in collaboration with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and in partnership with 50 states, five territories and the District of Columbia. The NBM is a project of NTIA's State Broadband Initiative. The NBM will be updated approximately every six months. 

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An Interactive Map of the Internet Later Produced as an iPhone App March 2011 – March 2013

In March 2011 peer1 hosting (peer1.com), headquartered in Vancouver, B. C., issued The Map of the Internet, a visual representation of all the networks around the world that were interconnected to form the Interent. These included small and large Interent service providers (ISPs), Internet exchange points, university networks, and organization entworks such as Facebook and Google. The size of the nodes and the thickness of the interconnecting lines reflected the size of particular providers in relation to one another. This map was produced as a two-dimension poster that could be downloaded from their website.

"Geek Version – You’re looking at all the autonomous systems that make up the Internet. Each autonomous system is a network operated by a single organization, and has routing connections to some number of neighboring autonomous systems. The image depicts a graph of 19,869 autonomous system nodes, joined by 44,344 connections. The sizing and layout of the autonomous systems are based on their eigenvector centrality, which is a measure of how central to the network each autonomous system is: an autonomous system is central if it is connected to other autonomous systems that are central. This is the same graph-theoretical concept that forms the basis of Google’s PageRank algorithm. The Map of the Internet image layout begins with the most central nodes and proceeds to the least, positioning them on a grid that subdivides after each order of magnitude of centrality. Within the constraints of the current subdivision level, nodes are placed as near as possible to previously-placed nodes that they are connected to" (http://www.peer1.com/blog/2011/03/map-of-the-internet-2011, accessed 03-14-2013).

Two years later, in March 2013, peer1 issued their Map of the Internet as a free iPhone app.  This visually distinctive and beautiful interactive app, based on data provided by The Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis (caida) allowed users to:

• Zoom and pan to enlarge or rotate the map in 3D

• Tap on nodes to learn more about them

• Browse historical data and events that shaped the Internet

• Perform a traceroute to a node from your network

• Search for companies or domains

• Change views to see geographic or hierarchical maps

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"Distant Reading" Versus "Close Reading" June 24, 2011

Journalist Kathryn Schultz began publishing a column called The Mechanic Muse in The New York Times on applications of computing technology to scholarship about literature. Her first column, titled "What is Distant Reading?", concerned work to date by Stanford English and Comparative Literature professor Franco Moretti and team at the Stanford Literary Lab.

"We need distant reading, Moretti argues, because its opposite, close reading, can’t uncover the true scope and nature of literature. Let’s say you pick up a copy of 'Jude the Obscure,' become obsessed with Victorian fiction and somehow manage to make your way through all 200-odd books generally considered part of that canon. Moretti would say: So what? As many as 60,000 other novels were published in 19th-century England — to mention nothing of other times and places. You might know your George Eliot from your George Meredith, but you won’t have learned anything meaningful about literature, because your sample size is absurdly small. Since no feasible amount of reading can fix that, what’s called for is a change not in scale but in strategy. To understand literature, Moretti argues, we must stop reading books.

"The Lit Lab seeks to put this controversial theory into practice (or, more aptly, this practice into practice, since distant reading is less a theory than a method). In its January pamphlet, for instance, the team fed 30 novels identified by genre into two computer programs, which were then asked to recognize the genre of six additional works. Both programs succeeded — one using grammatical and semantic signals, the other using word frequency. At first glance, that’s only medium-interesting, since people can do this, too; computers pass the genre test, but fail the 'So what?' test. It turns out, though, that people and computers identify genres via very different features. People recognize, say, Gothic literature based on castles, revenants, brooding atmospheres, and the greater frequency of words like 'tremble' and 'ruin.' Computers recognize Gothic literature based on the greater frequency of words like . . . 'the. Now, that’s interesting. It suggests that genres 'possess distinctive features at every possible scale of analysis.' More important for the Lit Lab, it suggests that there are formal aspects of literature that people, unaided, cannot detect.  

"The lab’s newest paper seeks to detect these hidden aspects in plots (primarily in Hamlet) by transforming them into networks. To do so, Moretti, the sole author, turns characters into nodes ('vertices' in network theory) and their verbal exchanges into connections ('edges'). A lot goes by the wayside in this transformation, including the content of those exchanges and all of Hamlet’s soliloquies (i.e., all interior experience); the plot, so to speak, thins. But Moretti claims his networks 'make visible specific ‘regions’ within the plot' and enable experimentation. (What happens to Hamlet if you remove Horatio?). . . ." (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/26/books/review/the-mechanic-muse-what-is-distant-reading.html?pagewanted=2, accessed 06-25-2011).

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Construction of the Francis Crick Institute Begins July 2011

In July 2011 construction began for the The Francis Crick Institute (formerly the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation), a biomedical research center in London. The Institute is a partnership between Cancer Research UK, Imperial College London, King's College London, the Medical Research Council, University College London (UCL) and the Wellcome Trust. It will be the largest center for biomedical research and innovation in Europe.

The Francis Crick Institute, named after British molecular biologist, biophysicist, and neuroscientist Francis Crick, will be located in a new state-of-the-art 79,000 square meters facility next to St Pancras railway station in the Camden area of Central London. It is expected that researchers will to be able to start work in 2015. Complete cost of the facility is budgeted at approximately £600 million. The institute is expected to employ 1500 people, including 1,250 scientists, with an annual budget of over £100 million. 

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Steve Jobs Dies October 5, 2011

Steve Jobs, one of the most influential and daring innovators in the history of media, and arguably the most innovative and influential figure in the computer industry since the development of the personal computer, died at the age of 55 after a well-publicized battle with pancreatic cancer. Responsible, as inspirational leader, for building the first commercially successful personal computer (Apple II), for developing and popularizing the graphical user interface (Macintosh) which made personal computers user friendly, for developing desktop publishing, for making music truly portable (iPod, iTunes), for bringing all the elements of the personal computer to cell phones (iPhone), for causing the widespread acceptance of tablet computers (iPad), Jobs not only rescued Apple Computer from near failure and made it for a time the most valuable company in the S&P 500, but also achieved great success through his ownership of Pixar Animation Studios, which he eventually sold to The Walt Disney Company. Characteristics of Jobs' style were exceptional boldness in the conception of products, high quality and ease of use, and elegance of industrial design.

"Mr. Jobs even failed well. NeXT, a computer company he founded during his years in exile from Apple, was never a commercial success. But it was a technology pioneer. The World Wide Web was created on a NeXT computer, and NeXT software is the core of Apple’s operating systems today" (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/09/business/steve-jobs-and-the-power-of-taking-the-big-chance.html?hp).

An article published in The New York Times on October 8, 2011 compared and contrasted the lives and achievements of Steve Jobs with that earlier great American inventor and innovator, Thomas Alva Edison.

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Action Comics #1 Superman sells for $2.16 Million November 11 – November 30, 2011

A nearly pristine copy of the first issue of Action Comics, containing the first appearance of Superman, sold for $2.16 million. The copy, which may have been stolen from the collection of the actor Nicholas Cage, was graded at 9.0 on a scale of 1 to 10. The copy was auctioned starting November 11 online at www.comicconnect.com with a reserve price of $900,000. The auction sale was completed on November 30, 2011. Neither the name of the buyer nor seller was disclosed by the auction house.

Though 200,000 copies were printed, only about 100 copies of Action Comics No. 1 are believed to be in existence, and only a handful of those in good condition.  

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2012 – 2016

Google Introduces the Knowledge Graph May 16, 2012

"The Knowledge Graph enables you to search for things, people or places that Google knows about—landmarks, celebrities, cities, sports teams, buildings, geographical features, movies, celestial objects, works of art and more—and instantly get information that’s relevant to your query. This is a critical first step towards building the next generation of search, which taps into the collective intelligence of the web and understands the world a bit more like people do.

"Google’s Knowledge Graph isn’t just rooted in public sources such as Freebase, Wikipedia and the CIA World Factbook. It’s also augmented at a much larger scale—because we’re focused on comprehensive breadth and depth. It currently contains more than 500 million objects, as well as more than 3.5 billion facts about and relationships between these different objects. And it’s tuned based on what people search for, and what we find out on the web.

"The Knowledge Graph enhances Google Search in three main ways to start:  

"1. Find the right thing Language can be ambiguous—do you mean Taj Mahal the monument, or Taj Mahal the musician? Now Google understands the difference, and can narrow your search results just to the one you mean—just click on one of the links to see that particular slice of results:

"2. Get the best summary With the Knowledge Graph, Google can better understand your query, so we can summarize relevant content around that topic, including key facts you’re likely to need for that particular thing. For example, if you’re looking for Marie Curie, you’ll see when she was born and died, but you’ll also get details on her education and scientific discoveries:

"3. Go deeper and broader Finally, the part that’s the most fun of all—the Knowledge Graph can help you make some unexpected discoveries. You might learn a new fact or new connection that prompts a whole new line of inquiry. Do you know where Matt Groening, the creator of the Simpsons (one of my all-time favorite shows), got the idea for Homer, Marge and Lisa’s names? It’s a bit of a surprise:

"We’ve always believed that the perfect search engine should understand exactly what you mean and give you back exactly what you want. And we can now sometimes help answer your next question before you’ve asked it, because the facts we show are informed by what other people have searched for. For example, the information we show for Tom Cruise answers 37 percent of next queries that people ask about him. In fact, some of the most serendipitous discoveries I’ve made using the Knowledge Graph are through the magical “People also search for” feature. One of my favorite books is The White Tiger, the debut novel by Aravind Adiga, which won the prestigious Man Booker Prize. Using the Knowledge Graph, I discovered three other books that had won the same prize and one that won the Pulitzer. I can tell you, this suggestion was spot on!"

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"The Life of Pi": Computer Graphic Animation Indistinguishable from Nature December 22, 2012

On December 22, 2012 my wife Trish and I went to see the Life of Pi, an American adventure drama film based on Yann Martell's 2001 novel directed by Ang Lee and distributed by 20th Century Fox in Los Angeles. There has, of course, been much written about this imaginative novel and the film. With respect to this database the story line, and the inspirational aspects of the novel and film are not strictly relevant. What was of particular interest to me was the revelation only after I had seen the film that most of the scenes with the tiger were done entirely by computer graphic animation. During the film every image—every scene in which the tiger appeared— appeared to be 100% real. No computer graphic animation in any previous film that I had seen had achieved this level of realism.

"Visual effects supervisor Bill Westenhofer was no stranger to animal-oriented projects when he came aboard Ang Lee's 'Life of Pi' to realize a digital photorealistic tiger. However, the film presented challenges beyond merely creating the beast. In 'Pi,' the tiger, oddly named Richard Parker, is one of the two main characters. He and Pi Patel, played by Suraj Sharma, are castaways who survive 227 days on a lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean. 

"Westenhofer began his work by bringing four real tigers to Taiwan, where the film was partly shot, in order to obtain very precise animation references with the goal of making the animal as real-looking as possible.  

"According to Westenhofer, even the most skilled animators in the world need visual references. 'A tiger is a solid mass of muscle with a loose bag of skin surrounding it, like a cloth that is draped over it,' he says. 'We really studied the tiny nuances such as the shoulder ripple that occurs when he shifts his weight. By having the reference clips, we kept true to how the animal would react.'

"After training and rehearsing with the tigers for five weeks, the production completed 23 shots of a real tiger around the lifeboat where most of the story takes place. The film's remaining 148 tiger shots would be realized with advanced computer graphics technology. In the film, the real tigers are indistinguishable from the digital ones.  

"The lead vfx shop on the tiger shots, Rhythm and Hues, spent full year on research and development, building upon its already vast knowledge of CG animation as it created the fearsome Richard Parker. 'Forty percent of our efforts were (born of) new technology,' which was used create 'the hair, the way it lights, the muscle and skin system,' Westenhofer says" (http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118063581/?refcatid=13, accessed 12-23-2012).  

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The Year In Graphics and Interactives from The New York Times December 30, 2012

On December 30, 2012 The New York Times published 2012: The Year in Graphics. Graphics and interactives from a year that included an election, the Olympics and a devastating hurricane. A selection of the graphics presented here include information about how they were created.

The review covered a wide range of subjects and approaches.  One of the most unusual from my perspective was Connecting Music and Gesture, originally published on April 6, 2012:

"We wanted to visualize and explain the nuances of conducting. The N.Y.U. Movement Lab recorded Alan Gilbert, the music director of the New York Philharmonic, using motion-capture technology. With the motion-capture data, we created one visualization that tracked the lines that Mr. Gilbert’s fingers drew in the air in a way that looked similar to Picasso’s 'light drawings.' ”

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An Infographic About Tatooing in the Form of an Elaborate Tatoo 2013

As a 2013 school project for the Academy of Fine Arts in Łódź, Polish graphic designer Paul Marcinkowski / aka Kaplon of Warsaw created an infographic about tatooing which appears to have been inked on his own body. The graphic detailed several facts about tattoos, such as popular reasons why people regretted having them, and the most common number of tattoos a person might have.

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An Innovative Interactive Museum Gallery Space with the Largest Multi-Touch Screen in the United States January 21, 2013

On January 21, 2013 The Cleveland Museum of Art opened Gallery One, an interactive gallery "that blends art, technology and interpretation to inspire visitors to explore the museum’s renowned collections. This revolutionary space features the largest multi-touch screen in the United States, which displays images of over 3,500 objects from the museum’s world-renowned permanent collection. This 40-foot Collection Wall allows visitors to shape their own tours of the museum and to discover the full breadth of the collections on view throughout the museum’s galleries. Throughout the space, original works of art and digital interactives engage visitors in new ways, putting curiosity, imagination and creativity at the heart of their museum experience. Innovative user-interface design and cutting-edge hardware developed exclusively for Gallery One break new ground in art museum interpetation, design and technology"

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Rare Comic Books Unwittingly Destroyed to Make Papier Mache Sculpture July 10, 2013

As aspect of the digital revolution that continues to fascinate me is the very high prices paid for rare comic books, which were, incidentally, usually printed on poor quality paper, and read out of existence, so that even if their initial printing was large, their survival rate in fine condition is very low.  Nevertheless, not everyone appreciates their value. On July 10, 2013 www.web.orange.col.uk reported  that English artist Andew Vickers used discarded comic books to make a life-sized sculpture of a man that he called Paperboy.

"However, after the piece went on display at a gallery in Sheffield it was spotted by comic book expert Steve Eyre.

"It was while examining the piece that he realised the pasted sections were from classic Marvel Comics books.

"Indeed, one of the comics used was a rare 1963 first edition of The Avengers, a copy of which Mr Eyre also owns, worth around £10,000.

"It means that it would have been cheaper for Mr Vickers to create the sculpture out of Italian marble rather than the comic books.

"The artist says he never imagined the comics had any value when he retrived them from the skip and added: 'There's no point crying over spilt milk' (http://web.orange.co.uk/article/quirkies/Artist_turned_rare_comics_into_papier_mache, accessed 07-11-2013).

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1.2 Billion Faces of Facebook Organized on one Page September 26, 2013

On September 26, 2013 designboom.com reported that communication designer Natalia Rojas of Miami, Florida, found a way to bring all 1,258,244,934 (and counting) Facebook users together from around the world into one page with www.app.thefacesoffacebook.com. The interactive project organized every profile picture on the social media website into chronological registration order, which when combined, appeared as an unorganized 1.2 billion person pixelated mosiac. Developed using a combination of different coding programs, the visual experiment showcased a diverse community of users, all in one screen capture.

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Animating Classical Representational Paintings January 2014

In January 2014 Italian experimental animator and director Rino Stefano Tagliafierro of Milan issued B E A U T Y, a nearly 10 minute video animating, with extraordinary realism and sensitivity, numerous classical representational paintings, especially a series by Bourguereau and Caravaggio, but also a few by Rubens and Rembrandt and other artists. The dramatic music and sound Design was by Enrico Ascoli; "historiographer" was Giuliano Corti.

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The KUKA KR AGILUS in a Table Tennis Match Against Timo Boll February 9 – March 10, 2014

On February 9, 2014 KUKA (Keller und Knappich Augsburg), an international manufacturer of industrial robots and solutions for factory automation based in Augsburg, Germany, uploaded a video to its official YouTube channel KukaRobotGroup, teasing the audience with their new robot, the KUKA KR AGILUS, which they characterized as the "Fastest Robot on Earth." The teaser video showed a trailer of KUKA's robot competing against the German table tennis star Timo Boll at a staged match in Sofia, Bulgaria. 

The full video was available on March 10, 2014. Because the video was not a real match, but a commercial with extensive computer graphic imagery (CGI), it received strong criticism from the table tennis community. However, the "match" undoubtedly achieved its purpose, as when I checked on YouTube in May 2014, the video had been viewed more than 5 million times.

The company also uploaded a video on the making of the "commercial" :

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The First Project to Investigate the Use of Instagram During a Social Upheaval February 17 – February 22, 2014

On October 14, 2014 computer scientist and new media theorist Lev Manovich  of the The Graduate Center, City University of New York informed the Humanist Discussion Group of the project by his Software Studies Initiative entitled The Exceptional & The Everyday: 144 Hours in Kiev. This was the first project analyzing the use of Instagram images during a social upheaval using computational and data visualization techniques. The project explored 13,203 Instagram images shared by 6,165 people in the central area of Kiev, Ukraine during the 2014 Ukrainian revolution from February 17 to February 22, 2014. Collaborators on the project included Mehrdad Yazdani of the University of California, San Diego, Alise Tifentale, a PhD student in art history at The Graduate Center,City University of New York, and Jay Chow, a web developer in San Diego. The project seems to have been first publicized on the web by FastCompany and TheGuardian on October 8, 2014.


Visualizations and Analysis: Visualizing the images and data and interpreting the patterns. 

Context and Methods: Brief summary of the events in Kiev during February 17-22, 2014; our research methods. 

Iconography of the Revolution: What are the popular visual themes in Instagram images of a revolution? (essay by Alise Tifentale).

The Infra-ordinary City: Representing the ordinary from literature to social media (essay by Lev Manovich). 

The Essay: "Hashtag #Euromaidan: What Counts as Political Speech on Instagram?" (guest essay by Elizabeth Losh).

Constructing the dataset: Constructing the dataset for the project; data privacy issues.

References: Bibliography of relevant articles and projects.


Lev Manovich, Alise Tifentale, Mehrdad Yazdani, and Jay Chow. "The Exceptional and the Everyday: 144 Hours in Kiev." The 2nd Workshop on Big Humanities Data held in conjunction with IEEE Big Data 2014 Conference, forthcoming 2014.


The Exceptional and the Everyday: 144 hours in Kiev continues previous work of our lab (Software Studies Initiative,softwarestudies.com) with visual social media: phototrails.net (analysis and visualization of 2.3 Instagram photos in 14 global cities, 2013; selfiecity.net (comparison between 3200 selfie photos shared in six cities, 2014; collaboration with Moritz Stefaner). In the new project we specifically focus on the content of images, as opposed to only their visual characteristics. We use computational analysis to locate typical Instagram compositions and manual analysis to identify the iconography of a revolution. We also explore non-visual data that accompanies the images: most frequent tags, the use of English, Ukrainian and Russian languages, dates and times when images their shared, and their geo-coordinates." 

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Digital Humanities Quarterly to Publish Articles as Sets of Visualizations Rather than Articles in Verbal Form April 1, 2014

On April 1, 2014 I was surprised and intrigued to read this post on the Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 933 from Julia Flanders, Editor-in-Chief of Digital Humanities Quarterly, published at Brown University in Providence, R. I. :

"Subject: New publishing model for Digital Humanities Quarterly

"Dear all,

"DHQ is pleased to announce an experimental new publication initiative that may be of interest to members of the DH community. As of April 1, we will no longer publish scholarly articles in verbal form. Instead, articles will be processed through Voyant Tools and summarized as a set of visualizations which will be published as a surrogate for the article. The full text of the article will be archived and will be made available to researchers upon request, with a cooling-off period of 8 weeks. Working with a combination of word clouds, word frequency charts, topic modeling, and citation networks, readers will be able to gain an essential understanding of the content and significance of the article without having to read it in full. The results are now visible at DHQ’s site here:


"We’re excited about this initiative on several counts. First, it helps address a growing problem of inequity between scholars who have time to read and those whose jobs are more technical or managerial and don’t allow time to keep up with the growing literature in DH. By removing the full text of the article from view and providing a surrogate that can be easily scanned in a few minutes, we hope to rectify this imbalance, putting everyone on an equal footing. A second, related problem has to do with the radical insufficiency of reading cycles compared with the demand for reading and citation to drive journal impact factor. To the extent that readers are tempted to devote significant time to individual articles, they thereby neglect other (possibly equally deserving) articles and the rewards of scholarly attention are distributed unevenly, based on arbitrary factors such as position within the journal’s table of contents. DHQ’s reading interface will resort articles randomly at each new page view, and will display each article to a given reader for no more than 5 minutes, enforcing a more equitable distribution of scarce attention cycles.

"This initiative also addresses a deeper problem. At DHQ we no longer feel it is ethical to publish long-form articles under the pretense that anyone actually reads them. At the same time, it is clear that scholars feel a deep, almost primitive need to write in these modes and require a healthy outlet for these urges. As an online journal, we don’t face any physical restrictions that would normally limit articles to a manageable size, and informal attempts to meter authors by the word (for instance, by making words over a strict count limit only intermittently visible, or blocking them with advertising) have proven ineffectual. Despite hopes that Twitter and other short-form media would diminish the popularity of long-form sustained arguments, submissions of long-form articles remain at high levels. We hope that this new approach will balance the needs of both authors and readers, and create a more healthy environment for scholarship.

"Thanks for your support of DHQ and happy April 1!

"best wishes, Julia."

As far as I could tell on April 1, 2014, an example of the visualizations published by Digital Humanities Quarterly could be found at this link. With each article DHQ published the following statement:

"Read about DHQ’s new publishing model, and, if you must, view the article in its original verbal form." [Boldface is my addition.]

Exactly how the visualization provided would be an adequate substitute for the full text of the article, or even a verbal abstract, remained a mystery to me when I wrote this entry on April 1, 2014.

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The GDELT Project: The Largest Open-Access Database on Worldwide News Media May 29, 2014

On May 29, 2014 Kalev H. Leetaru announced in the Google Cloud Platform Blog that the entire quarter-billion-record GDELT Event Database (Global Data on Events, Location and Tone) was available as a public dataset in Google BigQuery. The database contained records beginning in 1979. It monitored worldwide news media in over 100 languages.

He wrote:

"BigQuery is Google’s powerful cloud-based analytical database service, designed for the largest datasets on the planet. It allows users to run fast, SQL-like queries against multi-terabyte datasets in seconds. Scalable and easy to use, BigQuery gives you real-time insights about your data. With the availability of GDELT in BigQuery, you can now access realtime insights about global human society and the planet itself!

"You can take it for a spin here. (If it's your first time, you'll have to sign-up to create a Google project, but no credit card or commitment is needed).

"The GDELT Project pushes the boundaries of “big data,” weighing in at over a quarter-billion rows with 59 fields for each record, spanning the geography of the entire planet, and covering a time horizon of more than 35 years. The GDELT Project is the largest open-access database on human society in existence. Its archives contain nearly 400M latitude/longitude geographic coordinates spanning over 12,900 days, making it one of the largest open-access spatio-temporal datasets as well.

"From the very beginning, one of the greatest challenges in working with GDELT has been in how to interact with a dataset of this magnitude. Few traditional relational database servers offer realtime querying or analytics on data of this complexity, and even simple queries would normally require enormous attention to data access patterns and intricate multi-column indexing to make them possible. Traditional database servers require the creation of indexes over the most-accessed columns to speed queries, meaning one has to anticipate apriori how users are going to interact with a dataset. 

"One of the things we’ve learned from working with GDELT users is just how differently each of you needs to query and analyze GDELT. The sheer variety of access patterns and the number of permutations of fields that are collected together into queries makes the traditional model of creating a small set of indexes impossible. One of the most exciting aspects of having GDELT available in BigQuery is that it doesn’t have the concept of creating explicit indexes over specific columns – instead you can bring together any ad-hoc combination of columns and query complexity and it still returns in just a few seconds. This means that no matter how you access GDELT, what columns you look across, what kinds of operators you use, or the complexity of your query, you will still see results pretty much in near-realtime. 

"For us, the most groundbreaking part of having GDELT in BigQuery is that it opens the door not only to fast complex querying and extracting of data, but also allows for the first time real-world analyses to be run entirely in the database. Imagine computing the most significant conflict interaction in the world by month over the past 35 years, or performing cross-tabbed correlation over different classes of relationships between a set of countries. Such queries can be run entirely inside of BigQuery and return in just a handful of seconds. This enables you to try out “what if” hypotheses on global-scale trends in near-real time.

"On the technical side, BigQuery is completely turnkey: you just hand it your data and start querying that data – that’s all there is to it. While you could spin up a whole cluster of virtual machines somewhere in the cloud to run your own distributed clustered database service, you would end up spending a good deal of your time being a systems administrator to keep the cluster working and it wouldn’t support BigQuery’s unique capabilities. BigQuery eliminates all of this so all you have to do is focus on using your data, not spending your days running computer servers. 

"We automatically update the public dataset copy of GDELT in BigQuery every morning by 5AM ET, so you don’t even have to worry about updates – the BigQuery copy always has the latest global events. In a few weeks when GDELT unveils its move from daily updates to updating every 15 minutes, we’ll be taking advantage of BigQuery’s new stream updating capability to ensure the data reflects the state of the world moment-by-moment.

"Check out the GDELT blog for future posts where we will showcase how to harness some of BigQuery’s power to perform some pretty incredible analyses, all of them running entirely in the database system itself. For example, we’re particularly excited about the ability to use features like BigQuery’s new Pearson correlation support to be able to search for patterns across the entire quarter-billion-record dataset in just seconds. And we can’t wait to see what you do with it. . . ." 

Regarding GDELT, in April 2013 Leetaru and co-developer of the project, Philip A. Schrodt, presented an illustrated paper at the International Studies Association meetings held in San Francisco: GDELT: Global Data on Events, Location and Tone, 1979-2012.

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