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

Timeline Outline ViewEra: All Eras   |   Theme: Graphics / Visualization / Computer Generated Imagery


Circa 3,500 BCE – 3,350 BCE
Bronocice clay pot showing wheeled cart. (Click on image to view larger.)
The Earliest Images of a Wheeled Vehicle
2,800 BCEPavlopetri: the Oldest Submerged Town Site Circa 150 CE – 1650The Earliest Diagrams Representing Human Activity: Ancient Greek Military Tactics, Including the Macedonian Phalanx, Applied as Late as the 16th and 17th Centuries 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, Monumental Stone Map of Ancient Rome
Circa 250 CE
The Heracles Papyrus. (View Larger)
One of the Few Scraps of Classical Literary Illustration on Papyrus
270 CEThe Porphyrian Tree: The Earliest Metaphorical Tree of Knowledge September 29, 1295 – April 1, 1296
Detail of image
Llull's Tree of Knowledge
1375One of the Most Beautiful Medieval Atlases 1418 – 1423
St. Christopher woodcut, 1423.
The Earliest Dated European Woodblock Print
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.
Printing Playing Cards
Circa 1460Printing Required the Simplication of the Graphic Form of the Book February 14, 1461Albreht Pfister Publishes "Der Edelstein", the First Book Printed in German and the First Dated Book with Woodcuts 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.
The first illustrated edition of Ptolemy's Cosmographia, the First Book with Engraved Maps
1487 – 1488Discovery of a Lost Painting by Michelangelo? July 26, 1491Ketham's "Fasciculus medicinae", the First Medical Book with Anatomical Illustrations February 18, 1499The First Illustration of a Printing Office & Bookshop in a Printed Book 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)
Fra Giovanni Giocondo Issues the First Illustrated Edition of Vitruvius
September 1533Johannes Herwagen Issues the First Printed Edition of the Greek Text of Euclid 1569 – 1570Perrissin & Tortorel Issue the First Extended Series of Prints Attempting to Depict Great Events of the Recent Past 1602 – 1604Guillaume de Castelfranc Issues the First World Map Showing Isogonic Lines November 1609 – March 13, 1610Galileo Issues Images of Revolutionary Discoveries Concerning the Universe; and the Story of a Remarkable Forgery Circa 1625 – 1665Cassiano & Carlo Antonio dal Pozzo Attempt to Record All Human Knowledge in Visual Form 1627
Detail from plate from of De lactibus sive lacteis venis.  Click to see and resize image of entire page.
Gasparo Aselli's Book Includes the First Color-Printed Medical Illustrations
1637"Je pense, donc je suis." 1644Michael Florent van Langren issues the Earliest Known Graph of Statistical Data 1660David Teniers the Younger Publishes the First Published Illustrated Catalogue of an Art Collection 1665Robert Hooke's Graphic Portrayal of the Hitherto Unknown Microcosm 1684 – 1692The First Hieroglyphic Bible for Children 1685
Plate from Bidloo's Anatomia humani corporis. Please click on the link below to view and resize full page. 
Anatomy in the Style of Dutch Still-Life Painting
1698Baroque Anatomy and Plagiarism (?) 1736 – 1741Albinus & Ladmiral Issue the First Full Color Printing by the Three-Color Process to Illustrate a Medical or Scientific Book 1747Bernhard Siegfried Albinus' Cool, Elegant Aesthetic of Anatomy May 9, 1754The First American Political Cartoon: "JOIN, or DIE." 1764 – 1766Pierre-Simon Fournier Issues an Influential Manual of Types and Typefounding 1765Joseph Priestley Issues the First Biographical Timeline Chart 1769 – 1770Joseph Priestley Issues the Most Influential Historical Timeline of the Eighteenth Century 1769Graphic Representation of the Organization of the Encyclopédie 1780Jean-Étienne Guettard Issues the First National Geological Atlas 1782Charles de Fourcroy Publishes Early Graphic Representation of Statistics 1785 – 1786William Playfair Founds Statistical Graphics, and Invents the Line Chart and Bar Chart 1801William Playfair Invents the Pie Chart June 9, 1807John Thomas Smith Publishes the First Steel-Engraved and the First Lithographed Book Illustrations 1809Binny & Ronaldson Issue the First American Type Specimen 1823 – 1826The Double Publication of the Double Elephant Folio of Anatomy 1832 – 1834The Phenakistoscope, the First Device to Demonstrate the Illusion of a Moving Image 1832 – 1834One of the First Applications of Spatial Analysis in Epidemology 1834 – 1835The First Commercially Viable Method of Color Printing 1838 – 1845Charles Knight Invents "Illuminated Printing" & Offers Printed Color Plates at a Low Price for the Mass Market 1839
Portrait of Jacquard woven in silk on a Jacquard loom.
The Most Famous Image in the Early History of Computing
May 14, 1842"The Illustrated London News", the First Fully Illustrated Weekly Newspaper, Begins Publication May 1, 1843The First Commercial Christmas Card 1847The First Scientific Instrument to Record Scientific Information in Real Time 1857Jules Antoine Lissajous Describes Lissajous Figures 1858 – January 1859
Detail from Nightingale's
Florence Nightingale's Rose Diagram
November 20, 1869Charles Joseph Minard Issues One of the Best Statistical Graphic Ever Drawn 1874Francis Amasa Walker Issues The First National Thematic Atlas 1874James Clerk Maxwell's Three-Dimensional Thermodynamic Surface in Clay June 30, 1875The "New York Tribune" Publishes the First Significant Series of Illustrations in a Daily Newspaper 1878Marey Pioneers Recording Scientific Results Graphically 1884Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions 1888Historical Graphic Interpretation of Man's Quest for Knowledge of the Universe 1891Nomograms: A Graphical Method of Calculation October 28, 1892The First Animated Films are Shown 1894d'Ocagne Publishes the First Systematic Classification of Calculating Machines May 1897Mallarmé: Experimentation with the Relationship Between the Word and the Printed Page December 1899Perhaps the Earliest Example of Stop-Motion Animation January – February 20, 1909"The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism" 1912 – 1914Incunable of Poetic and Typographic Experimentation of the 20th Century May 11, 1913Marinetti's Manifesto of his Typographical Revolution 1914William Brinton Issues "Graphic Methods for Presenting Facts", the First American Book on Information Graphics 1917The Basis for Computed Tomography 1927Fortunato Depero's "Bolted Catalogue" of Futurist Graphics 1932Marinetti's Metal Book: "Parole in Liberta . . ." April 3, 1933 – 1934Invention of the Sociogram: Some of the Earliest Graphic Depictions of Social Networks 1938Otto Bettman Founds The Bettmann Archive: the Beginning of "The Visual Age" 1939One of the First "Maps of Science" 1941Borges' Universe as a Library, or Universal Library or Archive 1943Key Developments in Jay W. Forrester's Project Whirlwind 1947Dennis Gabor Invents Holography 1950 – 1953The Earliest Pioneer in Electronic Art January 23, 1950"Can Man Build a Superman?" 1953 – 1957Probably the First Computer-Controlled Aesthetic System 1957SAGE: Physically the Largest Computers Ever Built 1957Invention of the Image Scanner; Creation of the First Digital Image 1958
Title sequence from Vertigo; titles designed by Saul Bass; spirographic images contributed by John Whitney.
Animated Title Sequence by Electromechanical Analog Computer
1959The TX-2 Computer for the Study of Human-Computer Interaction 1960
William A Fetter: while working for Boeing, made the first computer model of the human body (
William Fetter Coins the Term "Computer Graphics"
Circa June 1962Licklider & Clark Publish "Online Man-Computer Communication" August 28, 1962Among the Beginnings of Computer Art in the United States December 1962General Motors and IBM Develop the First CAD Program 1963Edward Zajac Produces the First Computer-Animated Film 1963Ivan Sutherland Creates the First Graphical User Interface 1963 – 1966Using his BEFLIX Computer Animation Language, Ken Knowlton Produces "A Computer Technique for the Production of Animated Movies" May 1963 – 1965Machine Perception of Three Dimensional Solids 1964
The First to Create Three-Dimensional Images of the Human Body Using a Computer
1964Bitzer & Willson Invent the First Plasma Video Display (Neon Orange) August 1964The Rand Tablet: One of the Earliest Tablet Computers and the First Reference to Electronic Ink 1965
Example of image from Computer Graphics in Communication.  Please click to view larger image.
William Fetter Issues the First Book on Computer Graphics
1965 – 1966Michael Noll's "Human or Machine" : Comparing Computer-Generated Art with Human Created Art February 5 – November 26, 1965The Earliest Public Exhibitions of Computer Art July 1965
Detail of cover of the July 1965 issue of Fortune.  Please click to see entire image.
Walter Allner Designs the First Magazine Cover Using Computer Graphics
1966Aaron Klug Invents Digital Image Processing 1966Cyrus Levinthal Builds the First System for Interactive Display of Molecular Structures July 1966"Bobb Goldsteinn" Coins the Term Multimedia 1967 – 1983Jacques Bertin's "Sémiologie graphique" is Published June 1967Steven A. Coons Develops the "Coons Patch" in Computer Graphics 1968Ivan Sutherland and Bob Sproull Create the First Virtual Reality Head Mounted Display System 1968Stephen A. Benton Invents the Rainbow Hologram or Benton Hologram 1968Andries van Dam Develops Probably the First Hypertext System Used in Education 1968The Computer Artis Society, the First Society for Computer Art, is Founded in London 1968"Incredible Machine" State of the Art in Computer Generated Film, Graphics and Music in 1968 Circa 1968 – 1985Lee Harrison's Scanimate: The First Widely Applied Analog Computer Animation System January 1968Aaron Klug Invents Three-Dimensional Image Processing August 2 – October 20, 1968Cybernetic Serendipity: The First Widely-Attended International Exhibition of Computer Art November 27, 1968 – February 9, 1969K. G. Pontius Hultén Curates "The Machine as Seen at the End of the Mechanical Age" : An Art Exhibition December 1968
Cover of Computer Art and Human Response by Lloyd Sumner.
Lloyd Sumner Issues The First Monograph by a Computer Artist
1970Negroponte's "The Architecture Machine" is Published 1971
Cover of Computergraphik-Computerkunst, by H.W. Franke. Please click on image to see larger version of image.
Franke Issues the First Comprehensive Treatise on Computer Graphics with the First History of Computer Art
June 1971The Gouraud Shading Method for Polygon Smoothing is Developed 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.
The First 3D Rendered Movie
1973The First Major Film to Use 2D Digital Image Processing 1973Discovery of Citation Mapping 1975 – 1982Mandelbrot's "The Fractal Geometry of Nature" 1975The "Utah Teapot" is Created 1975One of the First GPU's 1976The First Major Film to Incorporate 3D Computer Generated Images 1977Apple I: The First Personal Computer Sold as a Fully Assembled Product 1979 – 1980The First Graphical Computer Adventure Game 1979 – 1980Vol Libre: The First Fractal CGI Movie January 1980The First Flight Simulator Program for a Personal Computer 1981The Xerox Star: The "Office of the Future" 1981"Computer Gaming World," the First Magazine on Computer Games 1982"Blade Runner" 1982One of the First Films to Incorporate Computer Graphics 1982The First Completely Computer-Generated (CGI) Cinematic Image Sequence in a Feature Film February 24, 1982Sun Microsystems Announces its First Workstation November 1982Microsoft Flight Simulator 1.0 1984"The Last Starfighter": One of the First Films to Make Extensive Use of Computer Graphic Imagery 1985The First Fully Computer-Generated Character in a Film 1985Rediscovery of Electronic Images Created by Andy Warhol on an Amiga Computer 1987 – February 1990The Origins of Adobe Photoshop 1987Introduction of the GIF Image Format 1988The First Computer-Animated Film to Win an Academy Award 1988Mathematica 1.0 November 4, 1988The National Center for Biotechnology Information is Founded 1989The First Film to Win an Academy Award for Computer Generated Images 1989The First Holographic Video Display 1991
The T-1000 cyborg as played by Robert Parker.
The First Partially Computer-Generated Main Character
1993Jurassic Park, the First Film to Integrate CGI and Animatronic figures into Live Action Scenes February 22, 1993 – January 26, 1994"Babylon 5," the First Television Series to Use Computer Generated Images December 1994"From Webspace to Cyberspace": A Pioneering Cultural and Historical Work 1995"Butterfly, an Information Visualizer" June 1995"Johnny Mnemonic": The First Film to Portray a Graphic Vision of Cyberspace July 1996"The Site", the First TV Show to Feature a Character Animated in Real Time 1997Rome is Reborn on Google Earth 1998The Digital Michelangelo Project 2001
Steven Spielberg
The Film: "A. I. Artificial Intelligence"
July 11, 2001
Hironobu Sakaguchi
The First Attempt to Make a Photorealistic Computer Animated 3D Feature Film
Steven Spielberg
"Minority Report": The Movie
Paul Marino
Machinima is Founded
December 1, 2002
Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics logo
ECHO (European Cultural Heritage Online) is Founded
May 2003 – May 2009
Grand Text Auto logo
"Grand Text Auto" A Group Blog
December 14, 2005
The Pixar logo
Pixar at MOMA
January 24, 2006
The Pixar version of the Disney logo, used in Pixar movies
Disney Acquires Pixar
July 30 – August 3, 2006Molecular Animation March 2007
Blaise Agüera y Arcas
Photosynth Demonstrated
May 30, 2007
Carl Bildt
The First Embassy of a Real Country in a Virtual World
November 2007
Jeff W. Lichtman
Brainbow: A Colorful Technique to Visualize Brain Circuitry
September 30, 2008Viewing the Illustrations of a Journal Article in Three Dimensions November 18, 2008
Cover of Tango with Cows, Vasily Kamensky.  Please click on image to view larger image.
"Tango with Cows" : A Virtual Exhibition
February 28, 2009Discovery of a Previously Unknown Self- Portrait of Leonardo March 11, 2009A Higher Resolution Map of Knowledge Than Can be Produced from Citation Analysis June 1, 2009The First Magazine Cover Created as iPhone Art August 25, 2009Displaying Crowdsourced Road Congestion Data on Google Maps September 2, 2009An Algorithm to Decipher Ancient Texts December 8, 2009Google Introduces Google Goggles 2010"Atlas of Science: Visualizing What We Know" 2010"Cartographies of Time: A History of the Timeline" January 4, 2010"Whatever Happened to Second Life?" April 5, 2010Probably the First Fully Visually Satisfying Interactive eBook April 12, 2010The First Pulitizer Prizes for Internet Journalism October 2010NCBI Introduces Images, a Database of More than 2.5 Million Images in Biomedical Literature November 30, 2010Google Earth 6: Enhanced 3D, 3D Trees, Enhanced Historical Imagery December 2010Introduction of the Google Ngram Viewer December 16, 20103D Maps for Android Mobil Devices 2011"Visual Complexity: Mapping Patterns of Information" February 1, 2011The Google Art Project February 17, 2011The U. S. National Broadband Map March 2011 – March 2013An Interactive Map of the Internet Later Produced as an iPhone App June 24, 2011"Distant Reading" Versus "Close Reading" July 2011Construction of the Francis Crick Institute Begins October 5, 2011Steve Jobs Dies November 11 – November 30, 2011Action Comics #1 Superman sells for $2.16 Million May 16, 2012Google Introduces the Knowledge Graph December 22, 2012"The Life of Pi": Computer Graphic Animation Indistinguishable from Nature December 30, 2012The Year In Graphics and Interactives from The New York Times 2013An Infographic About Tatooing in the Form of an Elaborate Tatoo January 21, 2013An Innovative Interactive Museum Gallery Space with the Largest Multi-Touch Screen in the United States July 10, 2013Rare Comic Books Unwittingly Destroyed to Make Papier Mache Sculpture September 26, 20131.2 Billion Faces of Facebook Organized on one Page January 2014Animating Classical Representational Paintings February 9 – March 10, 2014The KUKA KR AGILUS in a Table Tennis Match Against Timo Boll February 17 – February 22, 2014The First Project to Investigate the Use of Instagram During a Social Upheaval April 1, 2014Digital Humanities Quarterly to Publish Articles as Sets of Visualizations Rather than Articles in Verbal Form May 29, 2014The GDELT Project: The Largest Open-Access Database on Worldwide News Media