We may all think that Cairo, Tufte, Chalabi, McCandless, Rosling, Lupi and their ilk are the pioneers of data visualisation, but the real data viz groundbreakers were creating the concept of data viz hundreds of years before D3.js. Smithsonian.com remembers Alexander von Humboldt, not a household name today, but a scientific superstar and global phenom in his pre-social media day (1769 to 1859). In addition to kicking off biogeography, discovering human-caused climate change, and traveling all over the Americas, he produced stunning and ground-breaking data visualisations of the complex environments he studied.

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