A Brief History of Data Science

In this Data Science tutorial series we are going to provide you the brief history of Data Science.

A Brief History of Data Science

A Brief History of Data Science - Learning the history of Data Science

For today's data science students and professionals of the field tracing the timeline and events that gave birth to this discipline is extremely important. Data science before being shaped as a stand-alone field of expertise and knowledge went through several twists and turns. Here we will try to trace back the most important events and steps that played the most significant role in shaping Data Science.

The Starting Point

The coinage "data science" can first be traced when Peter Naur in 1960 first used the term as merely a substitute for computer science. Though soon he preferred to call it "datalogy".

Within a couple of years, in 1962, John Tukey in his famous piece predicted the merger of statistics and computing science which according to many as the first theoretical prediction of the onset of data science. In 1974, Peter Naur again used the term "Data Science" several times when authoring his paper Concise Survey of Computer Methods.

After the formation of the International Association for Statistical Computing (IASC) way back in 1977, formally the science of incorporating data into information was recognised. That first gave facilitated the ground for the coming of "Data Science" as a field of expertise.

By the year 1977, Tukey in his second research paper "Exploratory Data Analysis" revealed how the future of data analysis will gradually become a definitive force with the help of computing.

After the release of first personal computer by IBM in 1981 followed by a more advanced one built by Apple in 1983, we entered the new era dominated by computers. All over the globe companies, organisations and individuals started collecting data for a variety of usage as computing began to evolve in capability and capacity. But it would take another 2 decades for the data to turn into useful information and knowledge.

Formal Onset of Data Science As A Field

Data Science as a field of knowledge and expertise was formally recognised for the first time in 1996 International Federation of Classification Societies (IFCS) biennial conference. The term "Data Science" was mentioned in the conference title such as "Data Science, classification, and related methods".

Following this, throughout the next decade Data Science as an emerging new discipline continued to be recognised and mentioned by various academic journals and research papers by computer scientists and staticians. By the middle of the decade Data Science became recognised as an academic discipline. Already businesses began to recognise the potential of data to deliver to stay ahead of the competition. Within a couple of years, tech giants like Google have already started to feel the big deficit of qualified professionals equipped with the skills and expertise to deal with overwhelming volume of data.


Within the last half a decade Data Science has evolved at a faster pace than ever before. With the coming of latest data-centric technologies like Big Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and modern data cloud systems, the discipline of data science took the center-stage of Information Technology and computing now.