The History and Evolution of Flowcharts

Flowcharts seem like such a simple tool, but they've actually been around for centuries. From ancient civilizations to modern software developers, people have been using visual diagrams to map out processes and workflows for ages. Today, we'll be exploring the fascinating history and evolution of flowcharts, from their humble beginnings to the sophisticated software tools we use today.

Origins of Flowcharts

The earliest known examples of visual representations of processes date back to ancient civilizations like the Egyptians and Greeks. These civilizations used hieroglyphics and other symbols to represent complex processes and systems. In fact, the ancient Egyptians used hieroglyphs to represent accounting and inventory management.

Fast forward a few thousand years to the Industrial Revolution - this was a time of intense growth and innovation, and the need for efficient processes was paramount. Engineers and manufacturers needed a way to diagram complex processes, and the first flowcharts were born.

Early Flowchart Pioneers

One of the earliest flowchart pioneers was Frank Gilbreth, an engineer and efficiency expert who is perhaps best known for his work on time-motion studies. In the early 1900s, Gilbreth began developing a system of flowcharts that were used to represent the movements of workers and machines in a manufacturing setting.

Around the same time, another efficiency expert named L.H. Wallis was developing his own system of flowcharts. Wallis's system focused on representing the flow of materials and information through a manufacturing process.

The Birth of the Computer Age

As technology advanced and computers became more commonplace, flowcharts became a popular tool in the software development industry. Programmers used flowcharts to map out the logic of complex algorithms and software programs. In the early days of computing, flowcharts were often drawn by hand on paper or on a blackboard.

With the advent of computer-aided design (CAD) and other software tools, flowcharts began to undergo a transformation. These new tools allowed programmers to create flowcharts quickly and easily on a computer, and to make changes and updates much more efficiently.

Modern Flowchart Software

Today, there are a wide variety of software tools available for creating flowcharts. Some are simple and easy to use, while others are complex and designed for more advanced users. Here are a few of the most popular flowchart software tools available today:

Microsoft Visio

Microsoft Visio is one of the most popular flowchart software tools around, and for good reason. This tool is versatile, user-friendly, and allows users to create a wide variety of diagrams and charts, including flowcharts. Visio is also integrated with other Microsoft Office applications, making it easy to create diagrams and charts within other documents.


Lucidchart is a cloud-based software tool that allows users to create diagrams and charts of all kinds, including flowcharts. This tool is especially popular among software developers, thanks to its integration with popular development tools like JIRA and Confluence.


SmartDraw is a powerful and easy-to-use software tool for creating diagrams and charts of all kinds. This tool includes a wide library of pre-made templates and symbols, making it easy to create professional-looking flowcharts quickly and easily.

The Future of Flowcharts

As technology continues to evolve, it's likely that we'll see further innovation in the world of flowcharts. Augmented reality and virtual reality are two areas that could have a big impact on how flowcharts are created and used.

Imagine being able to create a virtual flowchart that you can walk through and interact with in a way that's impossible with traditional diagramming tools. Or imagine being able to overlay a flowchart on a real-world object to get a better understanding of how a process works.

Whatever the future holds, one thing is clear - flowcharts will continue to be an important tool for mapping out and understanding complex processes for centuries to come.


From ancient hieroglyphics to modern software tools, flowcharts have certainly come a long way in their long history. Today, there are a wide variety of software tools available for creating flowcharts, making it easier than ever for people to map out the processes and workflows that are so critical to their work.

Whether you're a software developer, an efficiency expert, or someone who just wants to get a better understanding of how things work, there's no denying the value of a well-crafted flowchart.

So the next time you're trying to make sense of a complex process, consider turning to a flowchart - you might be surprised at how useful it can be.

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