The History of the internet is an animated documentary explaining the inventions from time-sharing to file-sharing, from Arpanet to Internet. The history is told with help of the PICOL icons, which are also a part of a student project by Melih Bilgil. Some icons are available for free on picol.org. (via Motiongrapher)
History of the Internet from PICOL on Vimeo.
The use of pictograms in history and in modern design is an established field of study, with major works by Henry Dreyfuss (Symbol Sourcebook), Otl Aicher, Otto Neurath, Paul Rand, Edward Tufte, and others.
A few sentences on the subject can only be inadequate. For more info, see Navigating Today’s Signs: An Interview with Mies Hora by Steven Heller and Critical Wayfinding by Ellen Lupton and J. Abbott Miller. Really cool uses of pictograms in explaining pictograms in design and history can be found in Design, Writing, & Research by Lupton and Miller (PDF).
Summer Olympics in China by a former Adobe guy; see The Graphic Language of Min Wang (via).