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Maximilien

Registered: 02/10/12
Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #1 
Hello,

in the (great) book "Now You See It" on page 14, it is mentioned that "the data table emerged in the 2nd century". On the same page, a small picture of an old data table can be seen, unfortunately without further details or source (only general sources such as the web page http://www.math.yorku.ca/SCS/friendly.html are given)
Thus my question : can I find on-line more historical information about and if possible also reproductions of the oldest known data tables?
Thank your very much for your answer,

Maximilien

sfew

Moderator
Registered: 12/30/05
Posts: 620
Reply with quote  #2 
Hi Maximilien,

As I understand it, the earliest known data tables were created by Claudius Ptolemy, a Roman who lived in Alexandria, Egypt in the 2nd century CE. They appeared in his book the Almagest, which is the oldest known work on astronomy.

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Stephen Few
Maximilien

Registered: 02/10/12
Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #3 
Thank you for your answer, that makes it more clear. From my quick research, it appears it is unfortunately not possible to find reproductions of what those Ptolemaic data tables looked like...

Maximilien

nixnut

Registered: 12/27/06
Posts: 68
Reply with quote  #4 
The article Exploring the Origins of Tables for Information Visualization may be of interest to you. It mentions among other things tables used for accounting that date back to mid-fourth millennium BCE. A bit before Ptolemy's time :)



Maximilien

Registered: 02/10/12
Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #5 
Thank your very much for the link to the very interesting paper... The Uruk tablets are indeed old :-), and somewhat different from what we call tables today. Some pictures can also be found here http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/wrtg/hd_wrtg.htm
nixnut

Registered: 12/27/06
Posts: 68
Reply with quote  #6 
The Uruk tablets do look somewhat different. Though the example has totals, subtotals and a grand total. However the tables in figure 2 look very much like a spreadsheet done in clay :)

Perhaps the kronos tablets (Linear B) are also of interest to you. Among these are a number of inventory lists. These aren't as old as the sumerian accounting tables though.

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