Comment to win a copy of Data Analysis with Open Source Tools – winner announced

Looking to get more serious about your data analysis? Data Analysis with Open Source Tools by Philip K. Janert can help you with that.

The back cover reads:

Collecting data is relatively easy, but turning raw information into something useful requires that you know how to extract precisely what you need. With this insightful book, intermediate to experienced programmers interested in data analysis will learn techniques for working with data in a business environment. You’ll learn how to look at data to discover what it contains, how to capture those ideas in conceptual models, and then feed your understanding back into the organization through business plans, metrics dashboards, and other applications.

It’s a little over 500 pages and thorough about describing how to analyze your data. However, it is light in the “with open source tools” part of the title. Most of the time is spent explaining concepts, and then each chapter ends with a workshop, which includes some code. There are examples throughout, but few provide an explanation of how a plot was made or the implementation of a method. So definitely not a book for beginners.

However, if you’ve taken an intro stat course, and are ready to learn more, then Data Analysis could be helpful. It’s pretty technical, or as my wife said, “It has a lot of equations.”

Win a copy

Want to win a copy? I have five of them up for grabs. For a chance to win, leave a comment below by January 9, 2011, 10:00pm PST. Tell us what you used to make your very first graph. Pencil and graph paper? Excel? R? Jelly beans?

Then come back here on Monday to see who won. I’ll pick five people at random. Good luck and have a nice weekend.

Update: Congratulations to the following…

  • Chris – “The first graphs I made were with Generic Mapping Tools (which still really kicks ass). We made pub quality maps and graphs from Perl with GMT on the command line.”
  • Ketan – “Excel”
  • Paul – “#2 pencil and graph paper!”
  • Dan W – “It’s hard to say for sure, but I’m clinging to the hope it was with large amounts of macaroni and glue.”
  • DFruge – “I made my first graph using graph paper, a protractor, and a pencil.”

Thanks for participating, everyone. Still want a copy? Grab it on Amazon.


  • Graph paper and coloured pencils

    • Jason Kerwin January 7, 2011 at 12:06 am

      I think I did mine on regular lined paper with a normal pencil. I was never very good at bringing school supplies with me.

  • paper, ruler, pencil

  • Graph paper, a ruler and a pencil

  • I used squared paper and pencil – that was really long time at elementary school, but it was the very first graph ;)

  • That would be a TI-110 personal computer (if I recall correctly) using the console graphics, my dad’s way of teaching me to program before kindergarten, lol

  • Pencil crayons, a pencil, a ruler and on regular paper. The graph paper was so infrequently used, I never had it with me until I was in high school.

  • ClarisWorks.

  • Ahh, well i guess the first graph with pen and pencil i guess.. really got hooked to data analysis before my undergrad (Mechatronics) when i used to collect plot and analyze data for me and my brothers performance in cricket matches.. good old days!

  • stick and sand

  • HB pencil, a set square and squared paper :-)

  • Randy Johnston January 7, 2011 at 12:12 am

    Graph paper, straight edge, and pencil.

  • My first graph has probably been made with pencil and graph paper, learning statistic basics in highschool… When coming to “real” data analysis in college, my first graph has been made with Excel & XLStat macros when learning PCA. I have never used these tools ever since.

  • Graph paper and pencil. Still do this sometimes.

  • Graph paper and pencil. Followed soon thereafter by a TI-86 calculator.

  • geography, probably something to do with rain fall or population, pump action pencil, graph paper, a straight edge (probably another work book), eraser – so heavy handed all mistakes were as clear as the intended graph.

  • In high school, we had a project on some I-can’t-remember-anymore type demographics. The graph was produced in Excel, copy-pasted into PowerPoint for modifications and the dumped into Word for “layout”. Thanks MS, I was traumatized for years…

  • Pencil and paper, but only barely. ClarisWorks was a close second.

  • pretty sure it was a grade 5 homework task.. aahh.. mrs mcneal.. )

  • Yep, graph paper and pencil.

  • When I was in school, there were no tools other than pencil and paper. Yes, we did have “graph paper”, and that’s what I did to draw a y=x^2 curve (and then impress my friends with my ability to quickly estimate the square root of any number less than 20).

  • A crayon on my parents bedroom wall!

  • Magic marker and construction paper, 4th grade science fair.

    My project was on the ratio of men to women to animals in newspaper comics.

  • Just a pencil and a paper

  • Paper, ruler and pencil.

  • First graph was graph paper and a mechanical pencil I’m sure (grade school). Moved on from there to hacking a ti-83 to make all kinds of graphical goodness. Now I’m a GIS nut, and use ESRI products along with GRASS to put together some pretty sweet maps/charts depending on what my project is on a given day.

  • graph paper, ruler, pencil, rubber

  • In school with paper and graph.

    But first graph as statistics student with Spad. A french software dedicated to multivariate analysis “à la française”.

  • Die Buntstifte und Papier. Grade school ftw.

  • Sebastien DdC January 7, 2011 at 12:33 am

    I first did a hand version of the graph I wanted to get, and then used Excel + Paint to do the graph and improve the graphics.

    Thumbs up to the site for its great content!

  • It’s hard to recall my first graph. I’m pretty sure it must have been pencil and paper or poster paper and markers. In college I did my first real analysis with Excel in my chemistry labs.

  • VideoWorks on a mac plus!

  • Lotus 1-2-3 probably. Then pencil on paper, Excel, Matlab, Scilab, and now Python.

  • – writing pad (white paper)
    – pencil (Caran d’Ache, HB,
    – ruler
    – pencil sharpener
    – eraser

  • I made my very first graph using paper and pencil. I graphed a very simple linear graph (y=mx+c)…. Oh, how I miss those simple days!

  • Jason Sundram January 7, 2011 at 12:47 am

    Pen and unlined paper. Usually unused printer paper. That’s still my preferred way to go, when im not using matlab/matplotlib/processing.

  • I used a pencil and a piece of graph paper to make my first graph, however, one of my favorite graphs was an animated graph I created on my Commodore 64. My science teacher at the time commented that I put more time into programming the graph and accompanying presentation than I did the research and experiment. Hey, I was the only kid who had a fully automated presentation, who cares what the experiment was!

  • fingerpainted the data points and used a ruler to join them….
    design + statistics appealed to me from the start :)

  • My first graph? I am a huge fan of paper and pencil… but now i prefer excel or even mathematica!

  • Chalk and blackboard, different coloured chalk no less!

  • pencil and paper…

  • blackboard and chalk – my teacher (actually my aunt) was teaching us simple summary stats at school

  • Graph Paper, a pencil and a ruler I should think!

  • Massimo Morelli January 7, 2011 at 1:00 am

    Carta e matita (paper and pencil)

  • Paper, ruler and pencil!

  • Paper, pencil, ruler and a pair of compasses.

  • I definitely used crayons, and the edge of its box was my ruler.

  • Paper and pencil, like almost everyone else. After that an excel spreadsheet. For my first real data analysis project, SPSS.

  • Pencil and chart paper. My first computer chart was programmed with Algol 60 on an ICL mainframe (with a George 3 operating system I think).

  • pencil and graph paper

  • 2H pencil, grid paper and ruler. I think it was in year 7 high school science class and I think (pushing the memory here) it was a line chart of temperature over time recorded as we boiled a beaker of water. I think it was also the first time we got to play with Bunsen Burners!

  • excel!!1!

  • probably with pencil and paper. I onetime did one with origami sheets, but I belief that the result was a disaster. I now use Flash and Processing. You can find my last graph on (it’s a prototype and it visualizes the articles we had to read for media theory)

  • First graph? I think I did colours of cars that passed my house – so it must have been a bar chart using pencil and paper.

    Shockingly, I think I made up the results because I got impatient waiting for cars. Not a good start for a budding data analyst…

  • First, paper and pencil, and later a lot of Excel

  • I used my first AMIGA 1200 and a lousy graphic programm. what a fun!

  • Pencil and paper…

  • Fabrizio Bianchi January 7, 2011 at 1:36 am

    I used a stem and leaves with numbers written on it. I guess you can guess out what we used them for.

  • Paper and Pencil.

  • First graph would definitely have been with graph paper and some sort of writing utensil. Followed a handful of years later by a TI-84.

  • my first one?
    Pencil and paper
    … and a ruler

    Long time ago

  • Paper and pencil. Bar and pie charts for a Statistics course in high school.

  • I think I used standard graph paper to do the work and used my TI-83 to validate… Lame… It’s not as good as how my friend used to make graphs in Excel until I taught him about the graph button, haha… he used to color in the cells individually and updated the graph with any new data… I got a kick out of that…

  • Antti Kangas January 7, 2011 at 1:54 am

    I think I used crayons. They’re still much more fun than Matlab, but what can you do..

  • If you can believe it, I recall doing a graph at a very early age when I went to computer camp and played with a turtle graphics language (LOGO?) on an early PC – a TRS-80, methinks, or a Commodore 64.

  • Colored Pencils, Ruler and graph paper

  • Chalk and a slate board… Really

  • Yeah, good old graph paper!

  • I’m pretty sure my first graph was on graph paper. It was a long time ago. :)

  • I use pen and paper or some mockup tool…

  • Graph paper, Ruler and a pencil

  • I have to say that my first visual graph had to be with a set of Lincoln Logs. The way they stacked up into different forms was always a joy to see as a final result!!

  • frijol social January 7, 2011 at 2:18 am

    pencil and squared paper

  • I made my first graph with the LateX pst-node package.
    It was such a difficult task that I never did it again with that…
    Now I use Illustrator which is not so easy ;)

  • Christopher McCann January 7, 2011 at 2:20 am

    I made my first graph using old graph paper using pencils on paper my father brought home from work. He generated lots of graphs using a computer with his work and brought the old papers home to reuse. Great fun.

  • Kay Endriss January 7, 2011 at 2:21 am

    I think my first graph must have been at nursery school or kindergarten. As such, I’m pretty sure it might have been made from macaroni.

  • R — ggplot2

  • Probably a stick and some dirt or sand.

  • squared paper and pencil

  • Henry Mensch January 7, 2011 at 2:31 am

    my first graph? colored pencils and graph paper. my last graph: excel. the first graph was a lot more fun.

  • I think the first graph way back, I pissed into the snow. Looked like some stock charts – in the end everything went down. :)

  • I think I used my fingers and sand on the beach or sandbox

  • New High Score January 7, 2011 at 2:37 am

    me me me me! *jumps wildly at the back of the class trying to attract attention*

    i used graph paper, a pencil, an eraser and a plastic ruler. the eraser was used the most, i think.

  • I’m almost positive it was Lotus 1-2-3. If I could, I’d go back to those days too.

  • I used a good design studio!

  • My best guess is math lined paper to make them evenly square and spaced I guess and a pencil. Memory is a bit fuzzy from the first years.

  • Pencil. But I can´t remember if first I wrote on paper or in the wall.

  • The first one was made by paper and pencil. But, from now, I definetely prefer yEd!

  • A very blunt pencil and a very coarse graph paper.

  • a pencil and graph papers

  • On a computer about the size of a small house. I remember watching, fascinated as the printer took about 20 minutes to clatter out a simple sine curve!! How things have changed (for the better).

  • I believe it was using Hypercard in the 3rd grade.

  • gnuplot !

  • First “real” graph was on graph paper with a pencil, protractor and ruler, in freshman Geometry class.

  • I made my very first graph with SAS during a stats tutorial, back in the day when graphical interfaces were merely dreams out of Star Trek Voyager. Which incidentally was on at the time. Best Star Trek ever. Take us to warp Mr Paris!

  • I remember struggling with Excel and then plotting the numbers on a transparency to meet the deadline!

    Thanks for the excellent work.

  • Matt Miller January 7, 2011 at 3:12 am

    I made my first graph using graph paper, a pencil, and a ruler in grade school.

  • Laust Kristensen January 7, 2011 at 3:14 am

    Graph Paper and pencil, during math class in elementary school.

  • Graph paper and pencil, eight grade physical science class. In the days of the Underwood-Olivetti 101.

  • Inital thought bubble.. “it must have been in primary school using those little wooden cubes… ”

    ….although thinking again…. I don’t know how I would have created the axes… so my first graph must have been drawn using the good ‘ol chalk and blackboard

  • I made my first graph with the classic undergrad SPSS years ago and having been digging ever since. I recently made the switch to PSPP and having been looking for other opensource data alternatives.

  • Made my first graphs on my father’s HP 9845A machine using a veeeery limited dialect of BASIC. I played aroung a lot but did not really know what i was doing.

  • A very blunt HB and some green graph paper. Why’s it always green???

  • Long time ago. I guess paper, a huge amount of pencils of many colours and one of that expensive compasses you always ended up losing or stabbing into someone.

  • Probably gnuplot + some cli kungfu.

  • Tom Coulson January 7, 2011 at 3:36 am

    must have been pencil, ruler and graph paper

  • I used to have a TI-92 which had fantastic stat abilities + paper and pen. Oh how I miss the school days.

  • Gary Plazyk January 7, 2011 at 3:44 am

    I think the first non-manual graphic I made was at Washington University in St. Louis in 1969: a set of parabolas showing trajectories at different angles, using a Spear Micro-Linc computer (see ). The program was written in LAP-6 assembly language. The machine was an early non-mainframe single-user $70,000 (1969 dollars) laboratory computer, the size of two large refrigerators, with 4K of core memory, an ASR-33 teletype with paper tape reader/punch, two cute little tape drives, and a storage oscilloscope for graphic display. It also had knobs connected to analog to digital converters for input, and digital to analog output, so that the machine could run laboratory equipment like the left-right in-out up-down controls of a microscope stage.

  • Early on – pencil and paper. After that gnuplot, then matlab, now mostly excel

  • Paper and pencil.

  • Graph paper, wooden ruler, and colored pencils. That was thirty years ago. I mostly use Excel now, but there’s still a simple joy to be had in free-handing a simple graph in my lab notebook.

  • First pencil, but now Excel or Adobe Illustrator

  • Paper and graph paper. I then did the line of best fit by holding the paper almost sideways and turning it until the data is just a small clump.

  • I think my first graph was on quattro pro, probably a bar chart!, that was many years ago…

  • Harvard Graphics, on a PC-AT class machine as far as a computer graphic is concerned.

    Of course, 1/4″ graph paper and pencil in 8th grade algebra, does that count?

  • Fifth grade science fair:
    pencil and pen, graph paper, and glitter glue to “highlight the trend” in my scatterplot of 15(?) points.

  • Damian Herrick January 7, 2011 at 4:15 am

    Graph paper and colored pencils. Thought that was done and finished long ago but refreshed to see my first-grader learning how to make graphs by hand now. Never better than to start with first principles before moving to the power tools.

  • It was a TI-83 what got me into visualising data with math.

  • Monopoly houses, I wanted to describe to my dad how the neighborhood worked… I was probably 8.

  • Ben Hochstedler January 7, 2011 at 4:25 am

    Of course my first would have been pencil & paper creating graphs in a math class in high school, but the real fun started with calculus my Senior year with the Casio fx-8700G

  • Pencil, paper and ruler!!

  • Graphically speaking, pencil was the ruler of the paper.

  • LEGO bricks and min figures and then graph paper and crayons

  • Pushpins and piece of string. Then we traced it with our pencils.

  • for sure I did my first graph on pen and paper while studying Dijkstra’s algorighm at university, but then I discovered GraphViz, then Processing to do my graphs more dynamic, now I’m investigating large-scale data analysis with hadoop.
    I need the book !!!

  • Pretty sure it was freehand with crayon and construction paper.

  • My first attempt at graphing was in third grade. At Christmas, my teacher pulled out a big glass jar full of red and green M&M’s and announced a contest where whoever closest guessed the correct number of candy pieces inside the jar would win it. While my friends were all huddled around her desk counting with their fingers, I had out a piece of paper trying to draw the jar and the M&M’s inside. Once complete, I started counting my hand-drawn M&M’s and somehow came to a number. It was neither scientific or accurate, but guess what? I won!

  • I don’t remember well, but probably I used a self made ugly pascal program

  • I’m pretty sure my first graphs would have been in junior high, so they would have been on pencil and paper. Quite possibly graph paper–that was one of the school supplies we were always required to buy.

  • Michael Ehringhaus January 7, 2011 at 4:44 am

    In the early 1950s, I made my first graph with a wooden ruler, plain white paper, and a pencil. I had to sketch out the parallel lines then the graph. It was a wonderful production, with tongue massaging lips as I went for straight-lined perfection.

  • Good old A4 graph paper, an eraser (obviously!) and a very thick pencil.

  • Children – had all the kids in my class line up tallest to shortest at age 7

  • Pencil & Paper

  • Joshua Aresty January 7, 2011 at 4:54 am

    Pencil and paper in math class in middle school.

  • B. Chandler January 7, 2011 at 4:57 am

    This is a comment.

    Seriously — I’m just curious as to the toolset and is R included? The reviews seemed to imply Python centricity. Regardless, if I win, I will keep and read ;-)

  • I need to teach some gripping data analysis techniques to my students this semester! My first graph was in college when I used #2 pencil, engineering paper, and graphed lake sturgeon diets-gross!

  • hb pencil, squared school exercise book, and a ruler. very original…

  • Hard to say as I’m not sure that we didn’t do some kind of jelly bean (more than likely M&M) Graph back in elementary school. I’d say my first volitional graph would have been on Excel 95. It would likely have been terribly ugly, as all excel graphs from that era were. Que sera.

  • Pencil and graph paper

  • Not that I can exactly recall it, but pretty sure it was pencil and paper for some physics lab. The first “serious business” with gnuplot then.

  • My first graph in PC’s domain was done in Freelance Graphics… some work for high school…

  • I probably made my first graph with a steady hand on a piece of paper. Later on I began to use a ruler, and years later, I was using Microsoft Paint and then Lotus or some sort offimatic suite. Then I discovered Excel’s 3D graphs and I feel in love with those. Finally I moved to SAS, Matlab and Gnuplot, and am planning to go for OpenGL and Processing :)

  • At primary school, squared paper and pencil, marking squares to form a basic bar chart. Can’t remember what we counted though!

  • Had to have been a pencil and graph paper. I remember that paper being precious and getting it doled out a sheet at a time from a special drawer in the teacher’s desk.

  • Graph paper, #2 pencil, and colored pencils. My first graph on the PC was done in MS Excel 4.0.

  • My first graph would have been at school. Pencil, paper and ruler.

    I do like the sound of a jelly bean graph.

  • Geekacademic January 7, 2011 at 5:23 am

    Teaching research methods this semester, and would love to get something like this. I learned with pencil and a ruler, and I didn’t complain! These kids today don’t know how good they have it :)

  • First graph…had to be algebra class in 6th or 7th grade …pencil and graph paper.

  • That must have been on a magnetic board. These boards allow you to scribble upon and easily erase your drawing by pulling a button from left to right. My first graph was a simple graph with time on the y-axes and the number of smarties on the x-axes. How many smarties will I have after one hour, how many after two hours ….

  • Oreos! We stacked them up in first grade to make bar charts. Then ate them.

  • Pencil, graph paper and a ruler.

  • A bar chart made out of colourful plastic building blocks that snapped together. Of course, I didn’t know it at the time–sneaky grade one teachers!

  • Me? Pencil and paper. But one of the most amazing things I saw as a kid was an exhibit at the science museum, somewhere in downtown LA. That had built a huge plexiglass rectangular box – thin, with a bunch of columns. They used air to shoot thousands of ping pong balls up to the top. The ping pong balls bounced around and fell into one of the columns. AND every time, amazingly to me, the ping pong balls formed a perfect bell shaped curve. I watched this forever!

  • I believe it was perl gd, in something like 1996. Good times, good times.

  • First graph? An abacus.

  • Edward Iglesias January 7, 2011 at 5:41 am

    Definitely pencil and paper. Three hole punched thank you.

  • Graph paper and pencil in 4th grade.

  • A stick and sand at the beach – I tried to make clear who of my siblings “owns” how many territory at our beach spot!

  • Sounds like I’m not alone with the pencil and graph paper. It was always a special occasion to bring out the graph paper. Like bringing out the good china.

  • Julie Cooper January 7, 2011 at 5:47 am

    Pencil & paper…soon to be followed by Excel or a TI-85.

  • I’m pretty sure in school it was just pencil and paper. Professionally, IBM GDDM.

  • BobBobberson January 7, 2011 at 5:48 am


    I believe I’ve picked this up in the bookstore, and my wife made fun of me.

  • Had to be pencil and paper on some mimeographed handout in an early math class. I’d kind of forgotten about those purple handouts until now.

  • Pencil and graph paper back in middle school. Probably something like y = 3x + 2.

  • Drawing pin, string, pencil and lots of colouring pencils

  • Lotus 1-2-3! I think it was in the mid to late 80’s… Grade 6 or 7.

  • Graph paper and pencil!

  • A ruler was definitely involved, and pencil. I can’t remember if it was regular or graph paper though.

  • With MS Access and VBA!!

    Now with the Flex Framework!

  • M&M’s

  • planning with pencil and paper, and then making it nice with illustrator :)

  • I was going to order that book in the next few days, but hey, let’s give your contest a shot!
    definitely pen & paper, in maths class.

    but know this.
    in OECD countries, 46.48% of 15-years-olds report that they are able to use a spreadsheet to plot a graph. This goes up to over 82% in the Netherlands.
    unsuprisingly they get better school results. on a 200-800 scale where 500 is average, kids who know charts get + 12 points in reading, +14 in maths and +21 in science.

  • keith hopkins January 7, 2011 at 6:09 am

    graph paper and mongol no. 2 pencil!

  • Microsoft Office Excel

  • Jay Donahue January 7, 2011 at 6:12 am

    My first computer-made graphs were made on a Mac IIFX using Cricket Graph.

  • On a chalkboard next to the over-sized abacus we used in third grade.

  • paper and pencil. here in belize thats still common :-)

    njoy the wkd everyone…

    ps. really good blog, one of the few i subscribe to

  • Lined paper and the old stand-by, the No.2 pencil. That book looks great!

  • Dirt and stick

  • crayons and construction paper

  • Second Jeremy’s comment – that book is on my to-buy list already so this is for fun and also because I am a huge fan of the site!

    Got to go with the pen-on-paper route (school) followed by Lotus and then MatLab (college/work). However, given the dexterity shown (by even my 2-year old) in navigating touch screen devices like the iPad, I am confident that the future of information visualization is going to be about interactive and multi-dimensional navigation of data.

  • Rapidograph and graph paper for my science fair project, “barnacle propagation data”

  • I’m reading and enjoying a lot of your recommend books. I’d love to add this one to the pile…

  • Really? How can one be expected to remember such things? But my best guess is regular notebook paper with a pencil, probably in 5th or 6th grade pre-algebra. My wife loves to tell everyone about how her nerd husband forced her and our son to participate in creating a decision matrix with accompanying graph using markers on tag board when we were considering a move from SC to MO.

  • I figure my first graph (in non lay-parlance) was a bristol board chart of the weather for a full month, done in big fat colourful markers. As it was a week late, and I was using such pretty colours, my grade 5 teacher neglected to notice that I had not kept a journal of the weather (as I was to have done), but merely invented a mix of sun, rain, and cloud for every period that appeared on this chart. Until I got the A mark, I was traumatized by fear and guilt.

    Now I’m a data architect.

  • My graph making well pre-dates computers, so my first was on green-lined graph paper.

  • I was a young student and with my friends I was at a restaurant. I used toothpicks and bread.

  • cave walls and stick figures?

  • My first graph was a pencil, graph paper, lots of eraser droppings and a frown. Turns out that because a graph shows up a lot of details in a compact way, there are a lot of things to get right. Or wrong.

    My first chart or visualisation was probably the same as everyone else’s – a visual time-based plot formed by my mother’s expanding belly in the sight of my father. The most enduring is probably the long, slightly warped white-painted stick at my grandfather’s house on which was measured and displayed the story of his grandchildren; our efforts, assisted by biology, to be as tall as possible each summer. Chest out, straining, all for a little mark. The very top mark? Mine.

  • Def. Pen and Paper..

  • Pretty sure it was a pencil and peice of ancient green graph paper I found in my dad’s desk.

  • Bill Salokar January 7, 2011 at 6:42 am

    Graph paper, pencil, ruler and compass. In fact. I still have an old drawing kit from my freshman year in college when I was an engineering major. I realized I could not draw by hand (a requirement back in those days) and switched to math as a major.

  • Graph paper and coloured pencils

  • I started as a Lotus 1-2-3 guy when the datasets were small and the graphics chunky. Became and excel wonk, but I *need* to learn to use R better as my datasets are getting too large for Excel.

  • Graph paper and colored pencils

  • Just pen and pencil. Graphing makes me hard so I could use my dick as a ruler.

  • Definitely map pencils and graph paper.

  • Created my first graph with pencil n paper. Didn’t know what the heck I was doing back then, I have a much greater appreciation for this now since my work depends on it

  • My first graph i can’t remember but it was probably in a geography lesson not a maths lesson.

    oh and i do remember my first graphic calculator.. Casio fx7500g . the folding one. I still have it somewhere and I think it still works.

  • Graph paper, pencils, and a wooden ruler

  • Chalk and a chalkboard and one of those awkwardly sized chalkboard rulers. Collective learning!

  • First commercial/business graph – Perl, HTML, and images!

  • crayolas

  • A free copy is exactly what a nonprofit under fiscal constraints (like mine) needs.

  • I don’t really want to remember gnuplot or anything else before using rrdtool to make timeseries graphs!

  • My first graph was black ink on engineering-ruled graph paper. But that was a mathematical function. The first statistical graph was with SPSS (1978), rendered in ASCII characters on, I think, some kind of DECWriter printer. The epic advance — it now feels like the Golden Age — was when I had a Mac SE/30 with an Apple LaserWriter, sending S code to a unix machine, getting back PostScript. Decades later, still doing much the same (S -> R, Perl -> Ruby), except that the Mac / Unix hardware sits on my lap.

  • at university, i remember statgraphics, spss, spad-n, statistica, matlab and spss. R was used the next year.

  • Pencil and Graph Paper. over and over and over.

  • I drew my first graph in elementary school with graph paper and colored pencils. Now I use R and python. A lot has changed!

  • My first graph was made using pencil on graphing paper, which in hindsight made for a really poor data to ink ratio.

  • Darrell Brown January 7, 2011 at 7:12 am

    pencil ruler and graph paper….
    I was in love with graph paper, I could hardly believe the story you could tell using it with, gasp, data….
    I wish I could find a reason to use it regularly…. it still gets me giddy.

  • I remember using pencil and graph paper as well.

  • Blank paper, pencil, and a ruler. Cheers!

  • Mario Huezo January 7, 2011 at 7:16 am

    It was sure in paper with colors, but that was more a picture than a graph I thinked and created. My first graph was then made in Excel.

  • Papel cuadriculado y lápiz!

    Nowadays, I use Excel or Minitab for statistical analysis.

  • Of course I remember: pencil and graph paper! Bye!

  • I’m sure I graphed things before the first one I can recall. That graph was made with excel in about 1996. Sometime in my early teens and right around the time of the OJ Simpson trial. I found in a copy of the Cleveland BAR association newsletter a survey which asked basic questions about the trial and about the news coverage of it. It was my fortune then to have access to both a predominantly white school, where I went to school, as well as a predominantly black school, which was where I spent my off days and helped my grandmother (a guidance counselor). At the time I was in about 8th grade. About 400 students from two grades across two school responded. I had assistance from the schools themselves in getting the survey disseminated and collected.

    Essentially the main graph was a bar graph with grouped bars, 1 per response per question per school. The survey was about 20 questions long and true or false. I also graphed the number of people who answered all true or false as a pie chart per school. Also people who answered in a contradictory manner. Also the number of people who put their names on the page after being instructed not to.

    Turns out the predominantly black school thought OJ did it and the white kids didn’t. Weird.

  • physicistjedi January 7, 2011 at 7:24 am

    Graph paper, ruler, pencil

  • Use *NIX, ie Linux, and all the command line tools that have been there since the 70s. It’s all I ever needed in over a decade of data analysis. man sed, man grep, man awk– or just use perl.

  • Dustin Benesch January 7, 2011 at 7:28 am

    4th grade, pencil, ruler, and graph paper. Thank god for computers…

  • a drop of imagination, paper, ruler, and pencil

  • I used paper of course, but my first web graph is done using Tableau –

  • Quadrille paper and pencil. Kids these days start off with arts and crafts supplies one day and then Excel the next.

  • My first graphs were all pencil and paper, I use a variety of tools to build them now.

  • Graph paper and pencil.

  • Lined paper (it may have had the thicker lines that younger elementary school students tend to use), a pencil, and a ruler. Maybe colored pencils, too, but I think that was an “improvement” that came later…

  • First graph I hated was pencil and paper. First graph I loved was Lotus 1-2-3.

  • Microsoft Basic and a TRS-80 Color Computer :)

  • Good old graph paper and pencil….and a ruler.

  • Pencil and graph paper.

  • Colored pencils, no doubt.
    Freshly sharpened, of course.

  • sure, pencil because of fragile!

  • My finger in the sand, charting out enemy bases in neighborhood game of war.

  • Pencil and a ruler

  • Since my school life started before computers, or at least before computers where smaller than a room and cost more than the school, my first graph was on lined notebook paper with a pencil. I homeschooled my two boys and when we did graphs in science we used m&ms and other fun things that you could eat once the graph was finished or along the way. :-)

  • with snot

  • Hot Wheels cars lined up by color into a bar graph on my bed

  • Pencil and graph paper in elementary school.

  • paper, pencil, ruler, eraser.

  • First graph was with pencil and paper, but first computer generated graph was with gnuplot.

  • I used Pen and graph paper.

  • Algebra class in 8th grade, I had a binder full of graph paper, a lead pencil, and a ruler, and my first graph was of the form y = ax + b (I don’t remember exactly).

    Now, of course, I use metapost.

  • My first graph was made in 4th grade on a piece of plain paper with a ruler and a pencil.

  • My very first graph for a presentation was done on an overhead projector with colored markers. I’m so glad we have come as far as we have!

  • Pencil and paper using a ruler.

  • Pencil and door frame. Time Series graph of height. Apparently I, uh, decreasing the interval length, and introduced some irregularities in data recording technique, when i assumed the process of graphing. This makes the graph difficult to read for a while around 2 years.

  • letraset transfers

  • paper and MECHANICAL pencil. my dad always had mechanical pencils laying around – I thought they were the coolest. still do.

  • Pencil and graph paper.

  • paper and pencil of course.

  • Wow, this would be very helpful! Pick me! Pick me!

    My first graph was with a simple pencil & paper (not even graphing paper).

  • Gabriel Florit January 7, 2011 at 8:08 am

    Staedtler Pens and graphing paper.

  • Check this out: I wrote a GW-BASIC program on my DOS-based PC to draw a graph on the screen, which I then printed and drew a game map on. This resulted in an ‘Ok’ prompt in the upper-left corner of the graph. Here is the result:

    It was part of an effort to map out a few old Nintendo games:

  • The first graphs I made were with Generic Mapping Tools (which still really kicks ass). We made pub quality maps and graphs from Perl with GMT on the command line.

  • Excel

  • Colored pencils, graph paper, and elmer’s glue

  • Graph paper and pencil!

  • The first one? Probably crayons and the backside of old dot matrix computer paper. That was a staple at my house when I was growing up.

  • atticus finch January 7, 2011 at 8:19 am

    M&M’s grouped by color, sorted by size. Many early graphs on loose paper and colored pencils using a composition notebook cover as a straight edge.

  • The first graph I remember making was with my dad’s old Cross pencil and graph paper in 7th grade for Algebra II.

  • It must have been pencil and graph paper. First computer graph was probably on an Atari 800XL and a thermal printer.

  • The first graph *ever* was on a Tandy TRS-80, back in the mid 80’s. In grad school, I sung the wonders of Gri, an open-source graphics package designed by Dan Kelley at Dalhousie University, for oceanographers. Commands like “read columns” and “draw curve” were too simple to pass up!

  • My first graph was created using pencil and paper with a ruler or a protractor.

  • My first graph was made with my hands. I showed my mommy exactly how much I loved her.

  • A Fortran loop iterating over an array sending ‘MOVE’ commands to a plotter.

  • I am pretty sure it was Atari Basic

  • paper paper pencil

  • My first graph was pencil and paper. I remember getting the TI-85 in High School and immediately found the limits of its capabilities. That Ti-85 was were I began programming. From there Excel-Qbasic-C++-VBA-SQL-R-SAS. Moving into a more dynamic flexible environment like open source would be great. Maybe in 2011 I will dedicate some time to doing this.

  • I used graph paper, colored pencils and a ruler to chart the daily high temperatures…I think I was about 7 years old. A geek then, and a geek now!!

  • Bob Schaefer January 7, 2011 at 8:35 am

    Probably in my first stats class in college (circa 1971) and probably with pencil and paper since I wasn’t an engineer and had ready access to graph paper; I was just a geeky math student at an engineering school (Mich Tech). I do remember using slide rules and my first calculator. Wow, I can’t imagine what it would have been like if I had a TI-83 back then, let alone a laptop!

  • It would have to be Excel, probably a graph of real estate values over time.

  • In intro physics lab in college we had to plot our data against a sine curve. I was fairly new to spreadsheets and was using quattro pro. I graphed the data, but couldn’t figure out how to plot the sine curve. I looked for “Plot sine curve button.” I tried drawing it myself. Finally I called the professor. He told me how to fill the cells with function values and then graph them. It was so simple. My understanding of spreadsheets grew two sizes that day.

  • good ole’ pencil and paper in math class

  • Definitely pencil and paper. Though I’ve begun to learn how to use R!

  • It Excel 2007 – readily available on every business organisation.

  • Probably pencil and paper.

  • my mom just sent me something with a .cwk extension. Thanks for reminding me what it is!

  • My guess it was crayons and paper. My 6-year-old is uses one of my “Field Notes” books w/graph paper and a pencil to graph the number of dead and live spiders in the yard.

  • I used graph paper and pencil.

  • My first graph… Hmmm I remember one I did with a stick, on the ground to show how tall I would later be. But I forgot to label the axes ;)

  • Crayons, definitely crayons.

  • The first graph that I’ve made and actually thought was meaningful was done with STATA.

  • Started with pencil and paper then learned some excel and programming came much later.

  • Pencil, ruler, compass, paper

  • lined paper and pencil

  • Graph paper and a pencil. No ruler

  • I remember cutting little triangles of construction paper and then glueing them all together on a big sheet to make a “pie” chart. Must have been 4th grade.

  • When I was in fourth grade, our teacher came up with a project to teach us about bar graphs.

    She had our class graph our mother’s and father’s ages — I believe it was with construction paper on poster board.

    Now, I happened to be the product of a second marriage — my father married my mother when he was in his 50s, and I was born when he was 55.

    I was never self-conscious about my dad being significantly older than most other kids’ dads … until that day when our teacher posted the completed age graphs in the hallway outside our classroom, for all the school to see.

    The graph for fathers showed a few hills and valleys — and then, smack dab in the middle, there was a skyscraper that shot up far above all the rest of the bars.

    That was the one for my dad.

    Man … bar graphs can be brutal.

  • Stencils, paper, and a mechanical pencil.

  • #2 pencil and graph paper!

  • I used data to make it. Graph paper and pencil to draw it.

  • I think I did mine on plain old wide-ruled loose leaf paper with a pencil.

  • Graph paper and pencil.

  • Pencil and paper, of course, in my favourite style: quick and dirty.

  • Graph paper, pencil & compass …

  • Beans + Glue + Paper -> Bar Graph!

  • Definitely pencil and paper.

  • I started out with graph paper and pencil, of course. I won’t tell you how many years ago that was. Later, I graduated to various other techniques, including Excel, Origin, and finally R.

  • Pencil and paper, as everyone should.

  • Barry Yarbrough January 7, 2011 at 9:20 am

    Used pencil and paper. Have been making graphs since I was 5 years old – our day-care provider taught us that when it goes up on the right-side, that is good. We tracked stuff like how many times per week we brushed our teeth and stuff like that on simple handmade line charts.

  • My first infograph (circa 1986) was made with colored paper and glue sticks to get an organic feel – this was before graphic programs did this sort of thing. Then I had it photographed and turned into a 35mm slide. It showed the overhead of various network protocols (TCP/IP, IPX/SPX, NetBIOS, Appletalk and the hardware chatter/latency between ethernet, token-ring and arcnet). The cool part was the graphics of the network types looked like the network topology (bus, ring and star). Alas, the slides were destroyed some years ago.

  • My first graph was in for a science project in grade school. My mom got the graph paper and I went to town with big, bold marker-strokes.

  • Michael Foley January 7, 2011 at 9:29 am

    My first graph would have been drawn with one of those big red pencils, on that grey paper with chunks of wood in it and with a wooden ruler with one of those metal blades for tearing paper in straight lines. Ahh, memories of elementary school.

  • I used cunning and a bit of verve to make my first graph.

  • Chalk board.

  • A graph paper and pencil. It was a velocity-time graph, and I was the first one to draw it in my class :-)

  • First graph was made using QBasic when I found the “text editor” they had us use in school was actually a programming environment.

  • Paper and pencil

  • Crayon and construction paper- they got us graphing early at my elementary school.

  • My first graph was in middle school – using a pencil and graph paper. My graphs were never very neat or well done, and were usually covered in eraser residue.
    Now I use SAS, Excel or Powerpoint, and am very grateful that I don’t have to use my drawing skills (or lack thereof) to make a living.

  • good ol’ paper and pencil on graph paper. How else do you map a dungeon?

  • my hand on the beach!

  • Good old notebook paper and pencil in grade school

  • Paper and pencil charts and graphs in a class in 5th and 6th grade. My first computer graph was using an Apple IIc in a basic computer class, 2nd semeter, taken right after we learned typing on Royal manual typewriters.

  • Paper and Crayola :-)

  • One of my daughter’s first graphs was on the outside wall of a stairway in an atrium. We dropped a tennis ball from different places along the railing and put a post-it to show how high it bounced.

  • Jonathan W. January 7, 2011 at 9:58 am

    Paper and pencil.

  • My very first graph was probably pencil on graph paper back in elementary school.

    I mainly use Excel and Google Spreadsheets nowadays.

  • back in those days I was happy not to use stones and sand for that, but good ol’ pencil & a triangle (in 198x everybody seemed to carry a triangle with him all the time, what happened to them?)

  • TI-83 FTW!

  • Engineering graph paper and pencil. My brother (8 years older) was at college and I LOVED that green tinted engineering graph paper. It was like getting a real Erlenmeyer Flask when you were 8 years old – you were playing with REAL science now.

  • Whatever I used to create the pie (pizza) charts used in learning fractions.

    thx, Mike

  • Calculator, graph paper, ruler, colored pencils, pluck.

  • Pencil and graph paper!

  • Forced to guess, I’d say regular lined paper and pencil. I have a hard time believing so many people actually remember!

  • Sounds useful!

    First graph? Probably M&M’s. I couldn’t resist lining them by color straight out of the bag.

  • Graph paper, coloured pencils, pen and a ruler.

  • Chalkboard, I suspect. Although I do remember being really excited by a 3D graphic calculator on a powermac we had in school.

  • TI-82, after which I promptly went out and purchased a TI-85 using lawn mowing money. Best investment ever, I use it almost daily and it’s gotten me through high school, college and two master’s degrees.

  • I think my first graph was made with Lego, but hard to say…

  • a little geography January 7, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    popsicle sticks and macaronis

  • Excel! Boring but true.

  • Ruler, paper and pencil in primary school.

  • Graph paper, pencil, erasors

  • pencil and graph paper

  • Steen Iversen January 7, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    Back then I always thought the people who heaped up their sweets were simply hoarding them (away from me!). I’m still not very much convinced otherwise. As for overhead projectors, I simply adored them from afar (they were seldom) – but since I was once forced to actually do something on one, I also had to realize that from-afar adoration would be my wisest approach to them. It ended up very messy – thank god for the PC!

    My very first graph? I probably made it with crayons and one of these connect-the-dots paintings, though my mummy (a teacher) later insisted that she abhorred them!

  • Michael Glaesemann January 7, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    graph paper, pencil in elementary school.

  • Michael Khaw January 7, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    My first graph? Wow, that was so long ago I’m not sure. Probably a simple linear equation back in middle school algebra done with graph paper, straight-edge and pencil. Haven’t thought about y=mx + b, abcissa, ordinate, y-intercept, etc., in ages. Or maybe a freehand Venn diagram in pencil on plain paper.

  • Graph paper, ruler, pencil

  • i was well ahead of my time– my “connect-the-dots” drawings pioneered most all network graphs we see so much of today.

  • paper and pencil, although I wish it was something clever

  • My first graph had to be in school. I think I was plotting y-intercept examples and later moved on to finding the best fit curves with Excel.

  • Graph Paper. Definitely Graph paper. And a Pencil.

  • illustrator, paper and pencil, scanner, field research. a little bit of everything. It was more of an illustrated graphic than Data oriented.

  • Pen and paper. And a lot of understanding.

  • Again, Graph paper, ruler, pencil. I was young.

  • Pen and paper. And a ruler.

  • Dan Pollack January 7, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    stacks of pennies

  • Pencil and graph paper.

    Followed soon afterward by FOR loops and PLOT commands on a Timex/Sinclair 1000.


  • Linear programming class, graph paper with good old HB2s

  • Pencil, a large grid paper notebook, protractor and ruler.

  • Pencil, ruler & paper.

  • Graph paper, ruler and pencil.

  • Graph paper with blue boxes and a number two pencil. The good ol’ days…

  • A pen and the desk. I still do that although I prefer R and Matlab for the sake of the desk.

  • Graph Paper and a HB pencil. Good ol’ school days

  • Commander Keen January 7, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Wow, it must have been primary school or something when we had to graph the weather. I used a ruler and a pencil on my regular notebook.

  • Way back before computers – definitely pencil and graph paper.

  • It’s hard to say for sure, but I’m clinging to the hope it was with large amounts of macaroni and glue.

  • Pencil / graph paper / finely graduated ruler
    Sixth grade, Mrs. Rome’s class

  • Graph paper and pencil

  • Cheerios. I made 1×1, 2×2, 3×3 and 4×4 squares out of the Cheerios. I tried 5×5 but it was too much for a hungry 6 year old. I told my mom there was something important about how 2 by 2 make 4, 3 by 3 make 9, etc. I guess as a kid I was discovering squares and, if I’d thought about it more, square roots. While not a graph in the strictest sense it was still a fun exploration of patterns with numbers using an elementary material.

  • The first I can remember was a histogram using cm graph paper and a pack of Crayola colored pencils.

  • Pencil and graph paper.

  • Pencil, ruler and graph paper

  • A stack of sea shells

  • Karl Wieser January 7, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    Wow, a long time ago. My first graph was made with pencil on paper, it was probably a distribution of the birthdays in my elementary class.

  • For my first graph, I used colored pencil and graph paper. I still like using some kinds of graph paper (i.e. log graph paper to overlay).

  • Brian Doherty January 7, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    On the first day of college, they sat us down in front of the original IBM PC. We wrote a program to write dots to the screen corresponding to a certain mathematical function, x-y curve. I probably had done hand-written charts before that, but the programming aspect really got me interested in this field!

  • First graph: matches for the x and y axis and the heads for the data points!

  • Made my first graph with paper and pencil…then my teacher looked at it and said “what’s it supposed to be” in malayalam (the predominant language in the Indian state of Kerela)

  • saffronsoul January 7, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    graph paper and a pencil.

  • Graph paper and pencil. It was about 45 years ago, so most of the other options… weren’t!

  • Barry Hawkins January 7, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    It was graph paper and a #2 pencil, with the aid of a 12″ ruler.

  • Definitely paper in pencil in grade school. By the timeI hit college, it was Excel.

  • Pen and graph paper.

  • Paper and pencil, like everyone else – for the first one I had to draw my own grid. By my first summer job I had graduated to graph paper. Who remembers having to redraw a whole graph of 100s of measurements, because the 400th point was off the scale you’d decided on?

  • Pencil + graph paper.

  • Playdo and legos

  • Playing around with my brother’s TI-85

  • Matlab!

  • We were in a restaurant. I was trying to explain something, and neither of us had a writing implement. Result: Full color (red & yellow) with ketchup, mustard and a large napkin.

  • graph paper and pencil.

  • pencil and graph paper

  • pencil and paper

  • Blank sheet of paper, ruler, & a pencil. Later, in college, we borrowed Windows machines from the Business school so we could run Excel (only graphing software available). It was really frustrating to make decent measurements & calculations, then have to print preset axes and use asterisks for points!

  • marker and dining room wall – something like a histogram – I think there were two lines – 1 for all the toy cars I had vs all the cars my cousin had. My line was pretty long. It wasn’t pretty but I think I understood graphs from a very early age ;-)

  • Graph paper and a mechanical pencil.

  • Std. No. 2 Pencil and graph paper.

  • My dad’s pad of yellow graph paper, one of his trasparent “triangles” (30-60-90 I think?), and a sharpened #1 pencil (he had a thing about the #1s).

  • paper and pencil

  • Does it talk about R?

  • Dirt and stick. Comparative mapping of trajectories of toys after setting off firecrackers beneath said toys. At least that’s what I remember.

  • Made a graph on a Big Chief tablet with one of those big elementary school pencils.

  • Clay Schluchter January 7, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    Pencil and paper and straight edge – old school

  • Graph paper and colored pencils.

  • I used some really low-quality school paper, a wooden ruler and my dad’s mechanical pencil. Thanks for the great memory!

  • sheer determination in finding quadrant 1 with my number 2 pencil and blue lined graph paper at the age of 7

  • Gnuplot, then Metapost and now Asymptote, a powerful descriptive vector graphics language (can be found at

  • Wall and paintbrush. Graphing time against parental attention ;-)

  • José Luís Devezas January 8, 2011 at 1:07 am

    I wish it was R, but it was, guess what, graph paper and a pencil. :-)

  • Andreas Wallberg January 8, 2011 at 1:22 am

    Penna, papper och linjal! (Yeah we have those in Sweden as well)

  • Marc Nielsen January 8, 2011 at 2:44 am

    Plain paper, a ruler and a pencil !

  • Paul Gardner January 8, 2011 at 3:34 am

    Sandy beach, seashells and a long stick (I wish).

  • Wilfredo Salinas January 8, 2011 at 3:50 am

    White board plus every color of pen available in Walmart.

  • My first graph was an attempt to figure out how batting average (on the back of my baseball card) compared to hits (same). I couldn’t figure out how to calculate the batting average from the information on the back of the card (I don’t think you can, but I was 8 at the time and haven’t revisited the question). Anyhow, I used a black magic marker and wide-ruled paper, which I would not recommend–I think I left some (cleanable) spots on the table below.

  • Ion Amygdalou January 8, 2011 at 5:01 am

    It was processing i think, back then proce55ing :)

  • Guessing that it was standard graph paper and pen/pencil

  • I believe it was graph paper and black and red pens.

  • Travis Timmons January 8, 2011 at 6:40 am

    Power point!

  • graph paper, ruler, and a pencil

  • I was using VisiCalc on my Apple ][ and I made a set of basic program that I humbly called VisiStat. I coud not afford VisiPlot (at the time), so I included very basic-what was it? 192×128 blocky pixels-charts to “my” VisiStat.
    After, I used custom development on PDP Unix with GKS (graphical kernel system) and NCAA graphic library to plot more sophisticated graphs from physics experiments. That was around 1983-1986.
    Output was a 4 pen-HP plotter, where you had to change pen by the hand.

  • My first graph with a computer was using the unix commandline to spit out a bar chart using ASCII.

  • I made my first graph using graph paper, a protractor, and a pencil.

  • My imagination.

  • My mother was an elementary school teacher, and she would teach my brother and I “popcorn math” on the kitchen table. I think my first graph was a popcorn graph of the number of spoons/forks/knives in our silverware drawer, and it was delicious.

  • First graph probably involved notebook paper and pencil. Most serious graph almost certainly involved only Excel. Graphing tool I most look forward to using is some combination of Python & Sage & Blender.

  • Good old paper and pencil.

  • Lisa Richardson January 8, 2011 at 8:57 am

    As a young child, I would dump out all the M&Ms in the packet, group them in lines by color next to one another. (My first bar graph with color!) I started this around 4.

    The funny part is how I used my graph. I would strategically eat them, so I could end with the least frequent color and also have a good distribution of color while snacking. So, I started with the most frequent (always light brown – yuck!) and typically ended with red or blue. I found this typical color distribution terribly disappointing as I “liked” the least frequent red ones best. I assure you that I tested this distribution as often as I could talk my parents into it.

  • pencil. but things got interesting with the TI-81

  • My first were made with crayons. Mathematics was my first love, together with drawing with crayons.

  • Mikey Thomas January 8, 2011 at 9:35 am

    Graph paper and felt tip pen

  • I don’t remember my first graph. I do clearly remember a project for 6th grade, in which I made a map of Europe with all of Napoleon’s major battles drawn on it – my very first data visualization. My parents were hoping I was going to be into history. Little did they know I was just into maps.

  • Paper and pencil, sometime in elementary school. Good times.

  • paper and pencil, the best!

  • First proper graph – pencil and graph paper, but I did build graphs and tables using my trusty old ZX81 (with additional memory plugged into the back).

  • Graph paper, a ruler and two black pilot pens.

  • Paper & pencil, but digitally, I think it was called Visicalc. On an Atari 130XE. It had 128 KB of memory, and took 5.25 inch disks.

  • Lotus 1-2-3

  • brain and intuition

  • I think it was a worksheet that already had the axes printed on it…

  • Graph paper, ruler and a pencil

  • black slate with grid and chalk

  • Graph paper, wooden ruler, and colored pencils :)

  • John Thompson January 8, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    I used Excel; I know lame.

  • Me too: Graph paper, wooden ruler, pencil.

    These days: I write Python programs to generate dot files.

  • My first math graph (like the linear equation or something) was probably on graph paper but my first statistical, data oriented graph was in SAS.

  • Building blocks!

  • Chalk and asphalt (chart of jumping distance among ~5yr-olds at 1:1 scale…)

  • TI-89 calculator in middle school

  • PnP – my jr high had graphing as an elective

  • Graph paper — the 1 line per millimeter kind.

  • Lined yellow paper, a ruler and one of those giant boxes of Crayola crayons. The kind with the crayon sharpener in the back and colors like Burnt Sienna.

  • OK. I want the book. My first chart/graph was a jagged mountain drawings as a kid. I just did not know that it was the Dow Jones index going up and down during 2008 frenzy.

  • I still remember my first deliberate attempt to draw a graph. It was for AP Biology in 9th grade and I was plotting the temperature of some mixture over time, showing the rate of heat dissipation.

    I drew on thick graph paper – white with blue lines – and I used a wooden, number two pencil that left thick dark lines (I’d been hoping for thinner cleaner lines).

    I was so convinced that the graph needed to be perfect in order to be correct that I erased and re-drew most of it a dozen times. To this day I remember re-drawing the zig-zag on the Y axis a dozen times, trying to remember how my teacher had drawn it in class.

    By the time I was done the paper had a grey sheen of graphite and had taken on the texture of flannel. But the lines were straight, the points were *exactly* where they were supposed to be and I felt like I could frame the thing and hang it in my room.

    These days I just dash out sloppy graphs on a white board or punch up nice ones in R or some other friendly graphing tool. Thinking about it makes me wonder how I’d do if I dragged out the colored pencils and a ruler and tried for a little hand made brilliance.


  • My first graph on graph paper with colored pencils turned out to be a cutest graph I’d ever drawn. I don’t remember what the assignment was, but I do remember the end result was the most geometrical representation of smokey the bear. I’m sure I received an F …for forest fires. I’m sure of it. :p

  • My first graph was in high school with graph paper. I’m pretty sure it was for algebra, quickly followed by geometry.

  • to make my first graph i used pencils, graph paper and a VERY big eraser :-)

  • It was definitely crayons and paper. But then I quickly graduated to colored pencils and graph paper.

  • I used pencil and paper…it was back in school!

  • Hello. For the first time I used a pencil and a napkin. It was few years ago during metaphysics lecture :)

  • Checked school notebook, pen, pencil, ruler and a pair of compasses

  • I used gnuplot. It really, really sucked.

  • squared paper in a notebook, pencil, ruler & heavy use of rubber – well, it was back in primary school

  • Back at elementary school I must have used a 1mm-squared orange-browned piece of paper, black and color pencils and ruler. I mean heavy use of the ruler — it was the time I was obsessed about straight lines! Instead my first real graphing was surely made with good old Excel, no plugins added.

  • It was a long time ago… I remember I had used a school squared notebook, pen, and a 10 cm ruler. These days I use matplotlib :)
    I really want the book ;)

  • At elementary school, I used graph paper, ruler, and triangle with pencil.
    At university, first my instructor lectured to use tracing paper, graph paper and ruler with pen.
    # I was in department of psychology belonging to literature department in1986.

    But I was bored such procedure, then I went to computer center in campus and made tiny program in SAS, which was drawing graph to Tektronix 4014 terminal.

  • Graphic paper in combination with data from tables has been my first use of analytics in elementary schools.. Nowadays I use python, excel and starting to learn processing. Let’s see if i’m on time! :)

  • I just close my eyes and draw the first lines in my imagination…

  • Paper and color markers. Used to love it!

  • Paper & Pencil in school

  • Todd Vision January 9, 2011 at 7:46 am

    My undergrad research mentor had a very fancy looking mechanical drawing set with all sorts of shiny devices ( and super expensive marker pens. While I am glad not to be using that equipment for plotting genome-scale data, no graphical software package could ever substitute for the tactile satisfaction that stuff provides.

  • Furkan Mesce January 9, 2011 at 7:55 am

    Pencil and a ruler with a milimetric graph paper

  • Charles Zelnick January 9, 2011 at 7:58 am

    We had to make our own graph paper with a ruler and st raightedge, then do a column bar graph. I think it was in 3rd grade.

  • I made my first graph pixel by pixel on an old, old Macintosh computer!

  • It was a TRS-80 with 16 KB RAM, a cassette deck for storage, and hooked up to a B/W TV. I was in 8th grade and bought it with $ from a paper route.

  • used old fashioned graph paper

  • Graph paper and pencil, and a plastic protractor.

  • First grade we glued pennies to a poster board bar-graph style to visualize quantities. Data Analysis with Open Source Tools looks awesome, pick me!!!!!

  • I am sure it was graph paper, but my heart always belongs to that TI graphing calculator…

  • Graph paper, pencil and paper — still wish there was a more embodied interface for working with data. we are close but not there

  • First graph, graph paper and pencil. On computer, in the beginning used gnuplot to make graphs.

  • Graph paper and a #2 pencil. Probably had a Peechee folder to put it in. My first computer graph would have been in Lotus 1-2-3.

  • Pencil and notebook paper.

  • My first graph must’ve been in maths class at school. The earliest i can remember was on grid paper with pencil, when i was about 11 years old. Don’t forget to label the axes! My first dataviz for work purposes was probably using mrtg in a network performance monitoring project i knocked up about ten years ago in my first real IT job.

  • Paper and pencil, then Excel, now Matlab.

  • Paper & pencil. Colored pencils if I recollect correctly.

  • Pencil, ruler, graph paper and eraser.

  • Lined 8.5 x 11 notebook paper, a ruler and pencils. Later, I discovered graph paper and fell in love. I still prefer it to ruled paper.

  • I must have made my first graph somewhere back in the late 70’s so I’m sure I used a pencil and plain paper. However, I commonly used my driver’s license for a handy straight edge after 1979.

  • I made my first graph in my head.

  • Bruce Young January 9, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    For my Masters thesis, I used CricketGraph on Mac and mainframe SAS Graph!

  • Chalkboard, with a permanent grid in the background for graphing.

  • Denny Atkinson January 9, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    A pencil on lined paper…pretty much what I still use.

  • Yup: pencil & paper!

  • My first graphs were done using paint on an easel at age 8 in an art class.

  • Josh Mosier January 9, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    I remember putting stickers on a posterboard to track the volume of books our class read for Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) in third grade on what I would now call a histogram. I guess that was the beginning of my love affair with data.

  • Pencil & Paper

  • Crayon, definitely crayon. probably on the walls

  • Paper, pencil, and graph paper.

  • I think I used Glue, though it was colored.

  • ~30 years ago, and I remember it like it was yesterday… Yellow, circular magnets on a magnetic chalkboard — bar chart… measuring eye color of my classmates…

  • In the beginning: paper and pencil. These days: computers of course. How nice would it be if the open source tools were as easy to set up and use as matlab? Maybe this book spells that out?