From Russia with Love to Infovis: Graphic Train Schedules Reflect the History of Finland

In 1994, in the middle of a department move at the University of Helsinki, a young research assistant in statistics (Kimmo Vehkalahti) found some strange-looking, dusty old books published by the State Railways of Finland. Each book was full of beautifully designed colored charts on fragile paper. The charts seemed to represent train schedules in graphic form, accompanied with all sorts of technical information about trains, tracks, and stations. The oldest book was from 1918, a sad year in the history of Finland because of a civil war that broke out soon after Finland gained its independence from Russia in 1917.

These books provide a statistical perspective on how train schedules are relayed as well as aspects of Finnish history.

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