History of Statistics

The word statistics is derived from the Latin word “status” or the Italian word “statista,” and meaning of these words is “political state” or “government.” Shakespeare used the word statist is his drama Hamlet (1602). In the past,  statistics was used by rulers. The application of statistics was very limited, but rulers and kings needed information about land, agriculture, commerce, populations of their states to assess their military potential, their wealth, taxation and other aspects of government.

Gottfried Achenwall used the word statistik at a German university in 1749 to mean the political science of different countries. In 1771 W. Hooper (an Englishman) used the word statistics in his translation of Elements of Universal Erudition written by Baron B.F Bieford. In his book, statistics was defined as the science that teaches us the political arrangement of all the modern states of the known world. There is a big gap between the old statistics and modern statistics, but old statistics is also used as a part of present-day statistics.

During the 18th century, English writers used the word statistics in their works, so statistics has developed gradually during the last few centuries. A lot of work was done at the end of the nineteenth century.

At the beginning of the 20th century, William S Gosset developed the methods for decision making based on small sets of data. During the 20th century, several statisticians were active in developing new methods, theories and applications of statistics. These days, the availability of electronics is certainly a major factor in the modern development of statistics.