Timeline of Systematic Data and the Development of Computable Knowledge
1801: Controlling a machine with data
Joseph Marie Jacquard creates the Jacquard loom, which weaves patterns specified by punched cards.
1802: Color theory
Thomas Young formalizes the idea of three components to color.
1817: Organization of the chemical universe
Leopold Gmelin publishes his handbook of organic chemicals.
1830s: Geological Periods
The main geological periods are identified and named.
1830: Difference engine
Printing mathematical tables by machine
Charles Babbage constructs a machanical computer to automate the creation of mathematical knowledge.
1837: General Register Office
Recording every life
Births and deaths begin to be systematically recorded by the UK government.
1837: Birth of photography
Capturing images automatically
Louis Daguerre creates the daguerreotype method of photography.
First computer programmer
Ada Lovelace publishes the world's first algorithm for machine computing.
Transmitting information by wire
Samuel Morse sends the first public telegraph message.
1849: Who's Who
The first edition of Who's Who, which compiled biographical information on royals, members of Parliament, and others, is published.
1850: Transmitting information on stock prices
Paul Julius Reuter uses pigeons to fly stock prices between Aachen and Brussels.
Visualizing statistical data
Florence Nightingale pioneers the graphical representation of statistics and invents the polar area diagram, also known as the Nightingale rose diagram.
Keeping records of sports
Henry Chadwick begins to keep systematic records of player achievements in baseball.
1860: Charting and forecasting the weather
Robert FitzRoy uses a network of telegraph stations to assemble systematic charts and make forecasts of British weather.
1867: Stock Ticker
The market on a tickertape
Edward Calahan invents a telegraph-like system to transmit every price change from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
1868: The World Almanac
The New York World publishes the first edition of The World Almanac.
1873: Shepard's Citations
Frank Shepard's Shepard's Citations is introduced to organize references to legal cases.
1876: The Dewey Decimal System
Classifying the world's knowledge
Melvil Dewey invented the Dewey Decimal System for classifying the world's knowledge and specifying how to organize books in libraries.
1877: Invention of the phonograph
Recording the sound of anything
Thomas Edison invents the phonograph.
1878: US Public Health Service
By an act of US Congress, collection of data on notifiable diseases by the Public Health Services begins.
1878: Phone Directory
The first phone directory is issued, listing 50 subscribers in New Haven, Connecticut.
Axiomatizing knowledge through logic
Frege created a formal system and language in which mathematical and other knowledge could be represented in terms of an extended form of logic.
1879: Index Medicus
Indexing all medical literature
John Shaw Billings publishes Index Medicus, a comprehensive index of medical scientific journal articles.
1880s: Oxford English Dictionary
Collecting every word in English
With extensive information supplied by a network of volunteers, the OED is a systematic project to get complete knowledge of all the words in the English language.
1881: The Harvard Computers
Processing astronomical data
A group of women who processed astronomical data by measuring the brightness, positions and colors of stars develops the Harvard classification scheme for stellar classification.
1882: United States Geological Survey
Mapping the rocks of America
The US Geological Survey is authorized by Congress to create a geological map of the entire US.
1886: First printed "Yellow Pages"
A directory of every business
Reuben H. Donnelly prints the first "Yellow Pages" business directory.
1888: International Phonetic Alphabet
Systematization of sounds across languages allowed for extensive linguistic study on various qualities of speech, including phones, phonemes, intonation and separation of words and syllables.
Formalizing the rules of arithmetic
Peano publishes axioms to give a complete formalization of arithmetic.
Automating the census with punched cards
Hollerith puts all the data from the US Census onto punched cards, which can then be tabulated automatically. The company he started is an ancestor of IBM.
1898: Fred Jane
Making military information available
Fred Jane collecting worldwide data and publishes Jane's All the World's Fighting Ships.
1898: Thomas Register of American Manufactures
Harvey Mark Thomas begins publication of the Thomas Register of American Manufactures.