Chart of Electromagnetic Radiations after being "dusted off" with Photoshop.

Dusted-Off Version of 1944 “Chart of Electromagnetic Radiations”

Charts are fantastic! And, on the rare occasion that you find an old chart that possesses the charm of a previous era whilst maintaining valuable insights for today’s learners, you’ve found a true treasure.

A few years back, I’d looked for a chart covering electromagnetic radiation for my children, and I’d found some really nice options. One stood out, and while I’m not the only one who liked it, I never pulled the trigger. Again, it’s a very nice poster with nice reviews on Amazon, but it didn’t compel me to spend my money immediately.

Advancing to the current year, I realized my daughters were getting to the age where putting off getting the poster was no longer an option (at least in dad’s eyes,) so I figured I’d take another look to see what I could find. Eventually, I came across an old chart posted to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s (LLNL) flickr account. Quoting the image description:

If you’re into scientific antiques, you have to examine the details in this 1944 poster from the W.M Welch Scientific Company: “Chart of Electromagnetic Radiations.” It was found tucked away in the back of an unused office years ago, but now hangs framed in a high-traffic hallway populated by Lawrence Livermore engineers.

Small image of the Chart of Electromagnetic Radiations from from the W.M Welch Scientific Company in 1944

What a marvelous poster. Certainly, this was the poster for which I’d been waiting. Beyond the beautiful presentation, someone had also worked up a nice writeup of the chart’s provenance, which only added to its allure. Sure, Edward Tufte may not have installed this particular chart in his house, but even he would have to concede the impressive level of information density achieved.

Really, it looked like all systems were go. It’s licensed under Creative Commons 2.0, so getting this beautiful chart printed as a large-size poster would be a snap. All I had to do was go to FedEx Office to get some pricing and then quick talk to my beautiful wife. Easy peasy.

Although FedEx had some reasonable pricing, apparently the discussion with the wife posed a greater stumbling block than I had anticipated. Couldn’t she see the beauty of this poster? Why couldn’t we put this baby up on one of our walls as big as it could be printed?

After much bargaining, she agreed to let me put up a poster if I improved the appearance of the chart (it looked old, worn, and dusty to her), and we limited the largest side to 36 inches.

So, after putting in some time in Photoshop, I have a “dusted-off” version of the chart ready for printing. I tried to limit the edits to repairs related to color fading, and some extreme rips, as I thoroughly appreciate the aged appearance of the chart.

Chart of Electromagnetic Radiations after being "dusted off" with Photoshop.

Following the license of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s original image upload, this updated version is also licensed by the Creative Commons 2.0 license.

Here’s the link to the full-size image as a JPEG (10000 x 6945 pixels, 50.2 MB.) Enjoy!

Finally, if you make a better version of the chart, I’d love it if you linked to it in the comments so I can negotiate for a larger poster 😉

Update January 19th, 2017:

Ryan from the IEEE History Center commented with a link to another nice writeup on this chart in the January 2017 edition of the Journal of the Caxton Club (starts on page 10.)

Update November 9th, 2021:

I apologize for the link to the full-size image having permission issues. Google changed their permissions, but I believe I have updated the link and you should again be able to download the chart without having to request permision.






20 responses to “Dusted-Off Version of 1944 “Chart of Electromagnetic Radiations””

  1. Davin Granroth Avatar

    That is an awesome poster. Good find. Nice work on dusting it off!

  2. Thomas F. Buckner Avatar
    Thomas F. Buckner

    I absolutely love this, I’m going to have it reprinted and post it (36″ or bigger) in our engineering offices!

  3. Shannon DeWolfe Avatar
    Shannon DeWolfe

    I followed the link you left on the Physics Buzz page on Compton and this chart. I got there through Google. I went in search of information on this chart after Stumble Upon lead me to the first jpg I saw of this chart. I cannot tell you enough how much I appreciate your 50Mb file — it will be printed up as large as the copier will do it. 😉

    Have you found any more information on the artist, E. Borzone? A Google search lead me to a copyright catalog page:

    But other than that, you would think this was his only work.

    1. Adam Avatar

      Sorry, I couldn’t find more information on the artist, either. Please post back if you find any (I find this very interesting.)

      Glad you can use the chart 🙂

      1. Ryan simmons Avatar
        Ryan simmons

        I have an original “chart of electromagnetic radiations”. It’s in beautiful condition. I’ve had the poster for about 10 years now and have decided to find it a new home. If you or anyone you know would be interested in this piece please contact me.

        1. Adam Avatar

          Ryan, do you have an image I can view of the chart you have to see its condition?

          1. Ryan simmons Avatar
            Ryan simmons

            Hi Adam. Thanks for responding. I have a ton of pictures and would love to show them to you. I’m not exactly computer savvy so I hope this works. FullSizeRender.jpg
            If not maybe I could email or text you the pics I have. Or maybe you could walk me through the steps needed to post them here. Thanks again for getting back to me.

    2. Ellen Avatar

      My grandfather made the chart. If you want information on it let me know.

  4. Ryan simmons Avatar
    Ryan simmons

    Adam, I’d love to send you the pics. I just don’t know how to post them here. Maybe you could walk me through the process?

    1. Alex Magoun Avatar

      Hi Ryan, We at the IEEE History Center would be interested if Adam takes a pass. Do you know what edition it is? There’s a nice article on the Compton Chart in the Caxton Club’s magazine, on p. 10-11 ( and 13. If so, maybe you can send a photo to me at a.b.magoun (at) Best, Alex Magoun

      1. Adam Avatar

        Hi Alex,

        Ryan sent some pictures of his original chart, and here are links to 3 (I just tossed them up on Google Drive):

        I’ll defer to the IEEE History Center, but I am interested in the chart if the Center decides not to pursue the chart.

  5. John Jochem Avatar
    John Jochem

    I actually own an original version of this chart. I attended high school in Quincy, IL and it hung in the chem lab. When I was a sophomore–this would have been 1972 or so–I persuaded my chem teacher to let me purchase a new chart in exchange for this outdated one. He agreed. I had it professionally mounted and framed a few years later and it’s been hanging on my den wall ever since. I’m not looking to part with it but I have wondered from time to time what it might be worth. It’s a very good condition, a bit faded, a few tears from before it was mounted, but is otherwise in great shape. Any idea how one can get something like this appraised?

    Great article, by the way!

    1. Andrew Avatar

      This chart is absolutely beautiful. I wonder if it would be able to be put back into print somehow? I’d love to have a copy of it hanging on my wall.

  6. Shaun Merrigan Avatar

    I have a version of this poster on my flickr site:
    I have done some tasteful restoring of the poster as well.

    I have printed this at 24″ x 36″ on photo paper, and I have it the wall of my lab. When I think of the skill and effort that went into laying this out, doing the masks, shooting the negs… Wow!


  7. […] Don’t. A guy called Adam Jon Richardson did some post processing and re-uploaded it onto his personal blog. Same resolution, sharper looks. If you want a print, get this […]

  8. Bzzz Avatar

    I’m crazy and I will vectorize and update that thing ;))

  9. John M. Habak Avatar
    John M. Habak

    There was a 32 page Key for this Chart. Does anyone know how I may secure a copy of that Key?

    1. Ken Avatar

      Do you need a copy or want the real thing?

    2. Juergen Avatar

      I would also love to have a copy (scan) of the accompanying “key” booklet. According to the website below, there is one in a library in Philadelphia, PA. Is anybody located in that area and would be willing to make and share a scan, maybe via Adam’s site here?

  10. Matthew Amacker Avatar

    Thank you!!! I just sent a copy over to posterbrain to print and laminate. I have the “old dusty” version already – I can’t wait to have this new one up in my boys’ room.

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