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William Playfair As AS Levens states in his book Graphical Methods in Research many of the currently popular graphical forms are credited to William Playfair 1759-1823 who was a draftsman for another well-known mathematician James Watt and brother of the well-known scientist John Playfair 1965 155 William Playfair was the youngest of the Reverend James Playfairs three sons The family resided in Dundee Scotland William Playfair was educated at home by his father until the age of fourteen when he was sent to a university to study mathematics Not much is recorded of William Playfair until around 1785 In 1785 as Robert L Harris states in his book Information Graphics William released a collection of statistical graphs on the British economy titled Commercial and Political Atlas This collection contained 44 charts all but one of which are time series plots since Playfair considered the bar chart much inferior in utility 1996 327-328 William Playfair is also recorded as crediting his brother John who was also a professor of mathematics in his later years with teaching him that whatever could be expressed in numbers could also be expressed in graphs In 1789 as AS Levens states William left for Paris as an agent to Scioto Ohio Land Company where he reportedly assisted in the storming of the Bastille He then went on to publish the same works found in Commercial and Political Atlas but this time in French He would later receive more attention in Paris as a result 1965 129 William again resurfaces in the history books around 1805 when he published An Inquiry into the Permanent Causes of the Decline and Fall of Powerful and Wealthy Nations As Robert L Harriswrites in his book The exponential growth of debt coincident with the formation of Englands central bank the Bank of England was shown in An Inquiry into the Permanent Causes of the Decline and Fall of Powerful and Wealthy Nations by William Playfair
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