Using pictures for recording knowledge and modelling systems have been used for centuries in
learning, brainstorming, memory, visual thinking, and problem solving by educators, engineers, psychologists, and others. Some of the earliest examples of such graphical records were developed by Porphyry of Tyros, a noted thinker of the 3rd century, as he graphically visualized the concept categories of Aristotle. Philosopher Ramon Llull (1235-1315) also used such techniques.
It is widely believed that the semantic network was developed in the late 1950s as a theory to understand human learning and developed further by Allan M. Collins and M. Ross Quillian during the early 1960s.
British popular psychology author Tony Buzan claims to have invented modern mind mapping. He claimed the idea was inspired by Alfred Korzybski's general semantics as popularized in science fiction novels, such as those of Robert A. Heinlein and A.E. van Vogt. Buzan argues that while "traditional" outlines force readers to scan left to right and top to bottom, readers actually tend to scan the entire page in a non-linear fashion. Buzan also uses popular assumptions about the cerebral hemispheres in order to promote the exclusive use of mind mapping over other forms of note making.
The mind map continues to be used in various forms, and for various applications including learning and education (where it is often taught as "webs", "mind webs", or "webbing"), planning, and in engineering diagramming.
When compared with the concept map (which was developed by learning experts in the 1970s) the structure of a mind map is a similar radial, but is simplified by having one central key word.