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The geographical-based map, used immediately prior to Beck, in 1932, was produced by the underground map designer for the period 1926–1932, F. It was however Beck who had the idea of creating a full system map in colour.He believed that Underground passengers were not concerned with geographical accuracy and were more interested in how to get from one station to another and where to change trains.

The project, which Beck was never commissioned to do, may have been begun, according to Ken Garland, as early as before the start of World War II.It was immediately popular, and the Underground has used topological maps to illustrate the network ever since.Prior to the Beck diagram, the various underground lines had been laid out geographically, often superimposed over the roadway of a city map.In some cases the vertical and horizontal grid units are equalised, but on the whole the grid is rectilinear. which has a certain rhythm and charm – somewhat similar to the grid used by modern artists (e.g.Piet Mondrian's painting Composition With Yellow, Blue and Red, 1937–42.)" Beck continued to update the Tube map regularly on a freelance basis, but the later Victoria line was added in 1960 by Publicity Officer Harold Hutchison, much to Beck's shock and dismay.

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While drawing an electrical circuit diagram, Beck came up with a new idea for a map that was based upon the concept of an electrical schematic on which all the stations were more-or-less equally spaced rather than a geographic map.