Monday, 31 August 2009


Chronographics is defined here as the visual representation of time. I will be concentrating on historic time, rather than, say, time in project planning, time in media construction (such as for movies), or time-recording in scientific experiments.

Chronologies, various ways of listing events in time order, have existed since history was recorded. In fact arguably the first histories were chronologies only, offering no other information than dates and events. In some senses even these lists, when written down, were a form of chronographics, but I will be using the term to refer to visual structures which place more emphasis on the graphic properties of space, and less on the raw content.

One of the commonest forms of chronographic design is the timeline. This word has been widely used recently to mean any form of chronology, but I shall only use it to refer to graphics where the duration of events is represented by lengths of lines.

One of the earliest examples of such a timeline was created by Joseph Priestley (wikipedia article) in 1765.

Detail of Priestley's Chart of Biography 1765.
Original at Chetham's Library, Manchester, UK. Used with permission.

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