David Donohopublished an excellent paper, placing the start of ‘Data Science’ at the visionary work of John Tukey. The full paper can be downloaded from here. Below is the first paragraph of the abstract:
More than 50 years ago, John Tukey called for a reformation of academic statistics. In ‘The Future of Data Analysis’, he pointed to the existence of an as-yet unrecognized science, whose subject of interest was learning from data, or ‘data analysis’. Ten to twenty years ago, John Chambers, Bill Cleveland and Leo Breiman independently once again urged academic statistics to expand its boundaries beyond the classical domain of theoretical statistics; Chambers called for more emphasis on data preparation and presentation rather than statistical modeling; and Breiman called for emphasis on prediction rather than inference. Cleveland even suggested the catchy name ‘Data Science’ for his envisioned field.