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The Greatest Infographic (1861)

Infographic’s have been around a while and are a brilliant means of portraying statistical information in a easy to understand visual graphic. The first infographics are said to have emerged in 1626 in the form of illustrations demonstrating the Sun’s rotation patterns.

It is said however that one particular infographic is the daddy of them all and that this is Charles Minard’s information graphic of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia.


Released in 1861 this infographic is said to be the greatest of them all because it is one of the very first to have captured such a number of difficult variables and to have represented them in such a simple two-dimensional image. These variables were directly responsible for the downfall of Napoleons army and are as follows: The army’s direction of travel, the location of troops as they traveled, the size of the army (it’s decline) and the freezing temperatures experienced.

Here is a nice video by Dr James Grime from the YouTube channel Numberphile that walks us through it:

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