History of Data Science: A Glorious Trip Back in Time

History of Data Science

Did you ever think about how old this field is and the history of data science? The term “Data Science” is the study of anything that is related to the data. With the emergence of the internet, the amount of data produced has been more than expected in the past few years. Did data science emerge only after the internet came?

The answer is NO.

This term has been there for more than 50 years, and with the advancement of technology, the boom in this field significantly exploded in the past 5-10 years.

To understand this, let us take you back to 50 years in history of data science, where it all started.

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History of Data Science

History of Data Science

Let us start with the timeline where the term “Data Science” was introduced for the very first time.

The history of data science dates back to more than 50 years in the 1960s. Introduced as a field of study for massive data, this term came by combining statistics and computer science to import, understand, process, mine, clean, and create reports based on data.

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Data Science Timeline


In 1962, an American Mathematical Statistician named John Tukey published a paper titled “The Future of Data Analysis.”

History of Data Science - The Future of Data Analysis
Copyright © 1962 Institute of Mathematical Statistics
Published: March 1962
Digital Object Identifier: 10.1214/aoms/1177704711

In his paper, he explained the phenomenal shift to hit the world of statistics. He said, “For a long time, I thought I was a statistician, interested in inferences from the particular to the general. But as I have watched mathematical statistics evolve, I have had cause to wonder and doubt.

I have come to feel that my central interest is in data analysis… Data analysis, and the parts of statistics which adhere to it, must…take on the characteristics of science rather than those of mathematics… data analysis is intrinsically an empirical science… How vital and how important… is the rise of the stored-program electronic computer? In many instances, the answer may surprise many by being ‘important but not vital,’ although in others, there is no doubt but what the computer has been ‘vital.’”

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In 1974, a Danish Computer Science pioneer named Peter Naur authored Concise Survey of Computer Methods, where the term “Data Science” has been used freely in many places. He also contributed to creating the language ALGOL 60.


In 1977, John Tukey published a book titled “Exploratory Data Analysis” arguing that more emphasis should be placed on using data to suggest hypotheses to test and that Exploratory Data Analysis and Confirmatory Data Analysis “can—and should—proceed side by side.”

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In 1977, International Association for Statistical Computing (IASC) was founded as a branch of the International Statistical Institute (ISI).

The purpose behind this was to connect modern computer technology with the traditional statistical methodology and turn data into useful information.


In 1989, co-founder of KDD Conferences, Gregory Piatetsky-Shapiro, a data scientist, chaired the first Knowledge Discovery in Databases (KDD) workshop that became the annual ACM SIGKDD Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining (KDD) in 1995.

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On September 5, 1994, media house Business Week published an article, Database Marketing.


In 1996, for the first time, the International Federation of Classification Societies (IFCS) conference was named “Data science, classification, and related methods.”


In 1997, Professor C. F. Jeff Wu addressed for statistics to be renamed data science and statisticians to be renamed data scientists in his inaugural lecture at the University of Michigan.


In 1999, a Professor of Management at Tel Aviv University, Dr. Jacob Zahavi, addressed the need for new data mining tools to handle the massive amount of data in his article Mining Data for Nuggets of Knowledge.

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Data Science: An Action Plan for Expanding the Technical Areas of the Field of Statistics was published by William S. Cleveland.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) was introduced for the very first time.

Statistical Modeling: The Two Cultures was published by Leo Breiman.


Launch of Data Science Journal


Launch of Journal of Data Science


Hadoop 0.1.0 (an open-source, non-relational database) was released.


Data Scientist became a buzzword.


Job opportunities for data scientists increased by almost 15,000%.


Harvard Business Review published Data Scientist: The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century

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In the past 10 years, the invention of mobile devices (android, iOS, and Windows) has caused colossal data creation. It has become challenging for companies to process and perform the analysis.

With the release of high-end tools like NumPy, Pandas, Matplotlib, Seaborn, PySpark, and Power BI, the world of data analytics has changed significantly.

All industries today harness data’s power for their business growth and revenue generation. The opportunities in the data field are increasing exponentially, and the salaries offered by companies to data professionals are almost better than any other technology job.

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