When we think of the Missile Crisis, its only natural for our thoughts to turn to the big topics and names. Kennedy. Kruschev. Castro. Global thermonuclear war. But there are thousands of unsung heroes and heroic acts deemed too insignificant for inclusion in the history books.
Case in point. The Crisis was started by a series of U-2 spy plane reconnaissance photos that clearly indicated to photo analysts that there was a build-up of medium-range nukes in Cuba, and that they could only have come from one place. What of the pilots? The analysts? The quiet talent who enhanced and annotated each of the photos by hand for presentation to the President?
These are the pictures, at their core simple yet powerful information graphics, that started it all. These photographs made history. They are history. The photo above, taken four days later over the Sagua La Grande site, and its sister, below, from San Cristobal, are rare examples where works of information design became pieces of history.
We may not know the names of the pilots, analysts, photographers and photo-manipulators, but we know what they did: they helped make history and possible saved the free world in the process with what we would consider the most rudimentary of modern tools and techniques.