William Playfair — a businessman, engineer and economics writer from Scotland — created the first known pie chart in 1801. Playfair’s graphic innovations went beyond the pie chart: he also invented the bar graph. Academics conduct studies about which Playfair invention performs better. Excel and PowerPoint may abound with pie charts, but not everyone is a fan.
The data-visualization pioneer Edward Tufte wrote that “pie charts should never be used.” Dan Boyarski, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, encourages his students to expand their horizons. He also concedes, however, that in some cases, like illustrating a budget, the pie chart is fine. “We know what it stands for, so we immediately relate to it,” Boyarski said. “That’s the advantage of the tried and true.”
Abhay’s note: The article is short and interesting. While it tells you about the origins of the pie chart, its the comments that offer better reasons on why or why not and when to use a pie chart.