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Beck, Harry C.

Harry Beck was the inventor of the iconic "circuit diagram" London Underground tube map, from which the public transportation network maps of most major cities around the world today are derived. Henry Charles Beck, a technical draughtsman working for London Transport, is famous for having created the topological presentation of today's underground map in 1931. Famously, the map wasn't commissioned, but was created in his spare time by the then-29 year old engineering draughtsman. Beck's diagram was initially turned down for being "too revolutionary" by the London Passenger Transport Board. A second proposal resulted in a trial edition of 500 copies of the map being published in 1933. The uncluttered and functional design was an instant hit with a travelling public who had found earlier tube maps busy and confusing. Beck's innovation was to realise that it wasn't important to show relative distances between stations when you are travelling underground, but instead to show the connections clearly. He therefore enlarged the congested central area and contracted the length of the lines to the outer suburbs, and a design classic was born. Beck's diagrammatic approach has since been copied by almost every major city around the world.