100 Diagrams That Changed the World: Book Review

As an Infographic nut I love this wonderful little book, Scott Christianson’s 100 Diagrams That Changed the World. Each diagram includes a photo or reproduction starting with the Cave Drawings done 30,000 years ago in France all the way to a diagram of the iPod. In between you’d be quite surprised to learn that the first bar chart was created by William Playfair in 1786 (or at least I was). Or that the first exploded view diagram was created by Mariano Taccola way back around 1450. 

I was very pleased to find not only the expected entries by da Vinci and Descartes, but a diagram from my personal hero Ben Franklin for his bifocals. I was surprised to learn that Bacteria was first diagramed by Leeuwenhoek back in 1683. 1683! There are some interesting call-outs like for Ikea’s Flat-Pack Furniture (1956) which makes me want to curse when I read it, and even Carl Sagan’s Pioneer Placque which shipped out into space in 1972.

My only beef with this book lays in the design itself. Seriously–what is up lately with graphic designers not being able to design for print? Each entry has a couple introductory sentences which are printed in such a light gray as to be unreadable in the evening by a person over their forties. It has to be readable folks! That is the point!

 

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