Timeline of Systematic Data and the Development of Computable Knowledge

How civilization has systematized more and more areas of knowledge, collected the data associated with them and made them amenable to automation and computation
Timeline of Systematic Data and the Development of Computab Knowledge: 20,000 BC - 0 BC

20,000 BC

20,000 BC: Arithmetic

Counting abstract objects

The invention of arithmetic provides a way to abstractly compute numbers of objects.

3500 BC: Written Language

A systematic way to record knowledge

A central event in the emergence of civilization, written language provides a systematic way to record and transmit knowledge.

15,000 BC: Cave Painting

Representing events by pictures

The Lascaux cave paintings record the first known narrative stories.

3000 BC: Registering Land Ownership

Babylonian stone boundary markers begin to include inscriptions that record ownership of land.

2500 BC

2500 BC: Sumerian Calendar

Organizing time

The first known calendar system is established, rounding the lunar month to 30 days to create a 360-day year.

1790 BC: Code of Hammurabi

Codifying civil laws

Hammurabi writes down 281 laws prescribing civil behavior in the kingdom of Babylon.

2200 BC: I Ching

Symbols for destiny

The 64 possible hexagrams of the Chinese I Ching are taken to enumerate possible features of life and destiny.

1700 BC: Babylonian Mathematical Tables

Babylonians make tables of multiplication, reciprocals, squares, cubes, and square and cube roots.

2150 BC: Akkadian Measures

Making a standard for measurement

The Akkadian Empire adopts a single unified standard for measuring volume, based on the royal gur-cube.

1250 BC: Library at Thebes

A building to store knowledge

The Library at Thebes is the first known effort to gather and make many sources of knowledge available in one place.

1800 BC: Babylonian Census

Taking stock of a kingdom

The Babylonian census begins the practice of systematically counting and recording people and commodities for taxation and other purposes.

1150 BC: Egyptian Maps

Recording geographic knowledge

The Turin Papyrus is the first known topographic map.

1000 BC

600 BC: Lydian Coinage

Coins to represent value

Lydia (in modern Turkey) introduces gold and silver coins to represent monetary value.

325 BC: Library of Alexandria

Collecting the world's knowledge

The Library of Alexandria collects perhaps half a million scrolls with works covering all areas of knowledge.

500 BC: Babylonian Astronomy

Using arithmetic to predict the heavens

The Babylonians introduce mathematical calculation as a way to track the behavior of planets and a few other systems in nature.

300 BC: Euclid

Organizing mathematical truth

Euclid writes his Elements, systematically presenting theorems of geometry and arithmetic.

500 BC: Pythagoras

Numbers are the key to nature

The Pythagoreans promote the idea that numbers can be used to systematically understand and compute aspects of nature, music, and the world.

250 BC: Archimedes

Computing as a basis for technology

Archimedes uses mathematics to create and understand technological devices and possibly builds gear-based, mechanical astronomical calculators.

400 BC: Hippocrates

A system of diseases

Hippocrates identifies definite classes of human diseases.

200 BC: Eratosthenes

Labeling the Earth

Eratosthenes creates the system of longitude and latitude and uses it to create a scaled map of the known world.

400 BC: Panini

Finding the rules of human language

Panini creates a grammar for Sanskrit, forming the basis for systematic linguistics.

100 BC: Antikythera Mechanism

A machine for computing

A gear-based device that survives today is created to compute calendrical computation.

387 BC: Plato's Academy

Teaching knowledge systematically

Plato founds his "Academy", which operates in Athens for nine centuries.

45 BC: Julius Caesar

Standardizing the months

Julius Caesar institutes the Julian calendar, establishing the lengths of the twelve months.

350 BC: Aristotle

Classifying the world and introducing logic

Aristotle tries to systematize knowledge, first, by classifying objects in the world, and second, by inventing the idea of logic as a way to formalize human reasoning.

SEE ALSO: Stephen Wolfram's Blog Post: The Advance of the Data Civilization: A Timeline »