This unit provides a very brief review of some important milestones in the development of GIS. Of course, it is likely there are some important stages we have omitted. It is perhaps a little too early yet to get a good perspective on the history of GIS.
content of this unit is concerned with North America
outside North America, significant developments occurred at the Experimental Cartography Unit in the UK
history of this group has been documented by Rhind (1988)
this unit draws on a preliminary "genealogy of GIS" assembled in 1989 by Donald Cooke of Geographic Data Technologies Inc.
B. HISTORIC USE OF MULTIPLE THEME MAPS
idea of portraying different layers of data on a series of base maps, and relating things geographically, has been around much longer than computers
maps of the Battle of Yorktown (American Revolution) drawn by the French Cartographer Louis-Alexandre Berthier contained hinged overlays to show troop movements
the mid-19th Century "Atlas to Accompany the Second report of the Irish Railway Commissioners" showed population, traffic flow, geology and topography superimposed on the same base map
Dr. John Snow used a map showing the locations of death by cholera in central London in September, 1854 to track the source of the outbreak to a contaminated well - an early example of geographical analysis
C. EARLY COMPUTER ERA
several factors caused a change in cartographic analysis:
computer technology - improvements in hardware, esp. graphics
development of theories of spatial processes in economic and social geography, anthropology, regional science
increasing social awareness, education levels and mobility, awareness of environmental problems
integrated transportation plans of 1950s and 60s in Detroit, Chicago
required integration of transportation information - routes, destinations, origins, time
produced maps of traffic flow and volume
University of Washington, Department of Geography, research on advanced statistical methods, rudimentary computer programming, computer cartography, most active 1958-611:
Nystuen - fundamental spatial concepts - distance, orientation, connectivity
Tobler - computer algorithms for map projections, computer cartography
Bunge - theoretical geography - geometric basis for geography - points, lines and areas
Berry's Geographical Matrix of places by characteristics (attributes) - regional studies by overlaying maps of different themes - systematic studies by detailed evaluation of a single layer
D. CANADA GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEM (CGIS)
Canada Geographic Information System is an example of one of the earliest GISs developed, started in the mid '60's
is a large scale system still operating today
its development provided many conceptual and technical contributions
to analyze the data collected by the Canada Land Inventory (CLI) and to produce statistics to be used in developing land management plans for large areas of rural Canada
the CLI created maps which:
classify land using various themes: soil capability for agriculture recreation capability capability for wildlife (ungulates) capability for wildlife (waterfowl) forestry capability present land use shoreline
were developed at map scales of 1:50,000
use a simple rating scheme, 1 (best) to 7 (poorest), with detailed qualification codes, e.g. on soils map
____________________ 1see pages 62-66 in Johnston, R.J., 1983. Geography and Geographers: Anglo-American Human Geography since 1945, 2nd edition, Edward Arnold (Publishers), London.
this is essentially the arc structure of CGIS and the internal structure (common denominator format) of POLYVRT
DIME files were very widely distributed and used as the basis for numerous applications
topological ideas of DIME were refined into TIGER model
0-, 1- and 2-cell terminology
DIME, TIGER were influential in stimulating development work on products which rely on street network databases
automobile navigation systems
driver guides to generate text driving instructions (e.g. auto rental agencies)
garbage truck routing
emergency vehicle dispatching
beginning with the 1970 census
production of "atlases" of computer-generated maps for selected census variables for selected cities
demonstrated the value of simple computer maps for marketing, retailing applications
stimulated development of current range of PC-based statistical mapping packages
based on use of digital boundary files produced by the Bureau
Jack Dangermond founded Environmental Systems Research Institute in 1969 based on techniques, ideas being developed at Harvard Lab and elsewhere
1970s period of slow growth based on various raster and vector systems
early 1980s release of ARC/INFO
successful implementation of CGIS idea of separate attribute and locational information
successful marriage of standard relational database management system (INFO) to handle attribute tables with specialized software to handle objects stored as arcs (ARC) - a basic design which has been copied in many other systems
"toolbox", command-driven, product-oriented user interface
modular design allowed elaborate applications to be built on top of toolbox
GIS could now be supported by a platform which was affordable to many resource management agencies
emphasis on independence from specific platforms, operating systems
initial successes in forestry applications, later diversification to many GIS markets
expansion to $40 million company by 1988
Special issue of The American Cartographer Vol 15(3), 1988, on the digital revolution in cartography - contains articles on the Harvard Lab, UK Experimental Cartography Unit, and the history of GIS.
Tomlinson, R.F., 1987. "Current and potential uses of geographical information systems," The North American experience. International Journal of Geographical Information Systems 1:203-18. Reviews GIS from beginnings to 1987, and summarizes lessons learned.
EXAM AND DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
1. Compare the Chrisman and Rhind articles in the special issue of The American Cartographer cited above. What roles did personalities play in the contributions of the Harvard Lab and the ECU?
2. What factors contributed to the unique development of CGIS in a department of the Canadian federal government in the mid 1960s?
3. In what ways has the concept of a geographic information system changed since the design of CGIS?
4. "The pattern of GIS development since 1965 has been largely attributable to the changing balance between the costs of hardware, communications and software development". Discuss.
Mapping the Maps : 200-1500 AD
1351 The Medici sea atlas is published that contains a ‘world’ map.
1375 The Catalan atlas is prepared by Catalan cartographers who made great contribution in the completion of reformation of world map.
1436 Bianco’s world map is published where the continental mass is placed excentrically to the embracing ocean and eastern Asia breaks through the framework in order to leave more space in the west for the insertion of Antillia.
1447 The world map is prepared by Fra Mauro, a monk of Murano, near Venice, that is often regarded as the culmination of medieval cartography, but in some respects it is transitional between medieval and renaissance cartography.
1448 The Benedictine Andreas Walsperger at Constance draws a world map.
1477 The first printed edition of the ‘Geography’, Bologna is published on the basis of manuscript atlases, produced by Dominus Nicholaus Germanus.
1482 The first edition of the work of Florence Francesco Berlinghieri is published, a rhyming version of the ‘Geography’ accompanied by an important set of maps, including a number of modern maps related to the Massajo and Laurenziana types.
1487 The rounding of the southern promontory of Africa by Bernal Diaz
1492 Columbus discovers West Indies.
1498 The discovery of India by Vasco da Gama.
1500 The discovery of Brazil by Cabral.
Claudius Ptolemy was an astronomer and mathematician of c. 2 A.D., who must apparently have worked in Alexandria between 127 and 148 A.D. since some of his astronomical observations are consistent with those dates. Ptolemy’s most famous works are the Almagest, a textbook of astronomy in which, among many other things, he laid the foundations of modern trigonometry; the Tetrabiblos, a compendium of astrology and geography. The importance of his manuscripts was that they transmitted a vast amount of topographical detail to Renaissance scholars, which profoundly influenced their conception of the world. The manuscript maps fall into two classes; one consisting of the world map and 26 regional maps, and the second containing 67 maps of smaller areas. From the 2nd until the early 15th century, they were almost entirely without influence on western cartography. But the Arab geographers, who possessed translation of his works, and through them, seem to have had some influence on 14th century cartographers such as Marino Sanudo, knew those. With the translation of the text into Latin in the early 15th century, Ptolemy dominated European cartography for a century, and his influence promoted cartographical progress. Ptolemy’s Geography was what we would now call an atlas, the core of which were necessarily the maps. Ptolemy suggested that people replot his data, and a good section of Book I of the Geography offers advice on how to draw maps. Various people at various times have redrawn the maps from the coordinates given in the work: the map appended to Prof. Stevenson’s edition, for example, is a medieval version or copy of just such a replot, but both Planudes and Karl Müller have done it as well.
In South Asia, the themes obtained from the contributions of the occasional visitors like Fa-hsien, Hsuan-tsang etc. helped in the configuration of historical atlases in the later period. Such information was also supplied South Asia in the age of Gurjara-Pratiharas, Palas and Rastrakutas, by the contributions of al-Biruni, Kalhana, al-Masudi, the literatures of Sandhyakar Nandi, Somadeva Bhatta, al-Idrisi, Bilhana etc. ‘CANTINO PLANISPHERE’ of c.1502 is possibly the oldest extant European map to show an approximation of India’s true shape, executed on parchment by an anonymous Portuguese. On the basis of such historical records, ‘A Historical Atlas of South Asia’ was published by the University of Chicago Press in 1978, which correlates the literary themes with modern cartographic techniques.
The most interesting example of the circular world map is the ‘mappa mundi’ of Hereford, dating from as late as c. A.D. 1300. One of the links of it is the Hieronymus map of about A.D. 1150.
Mapping the Maps : 1500-1600 AD
1541 Mercator presented a globe.
1569 Mercator prepares a large map of Europe.
1570 Abraham Ortelius prepares an atlas, 'Theatrum orbis terrarum'.
1571 RajaTodarmal, one of the nine jewels of Akbar, introduces a rational revenue assessment system based on properply-surveyed holdings.
1578 Mercator prepares an edition of Ptolemy's world atlas.
Gerhard Mercator, a maker of mathematical and astronomical instruments, owed much to his relations with Gemma Phrysius, the cosmographer and editor of Peter Apian. He acquired a profound knowledge of cosmography and of topographical progress in Europe and beyond, and won general recognition as the most learned geographer of his day. On his globe of 1541, were laid down, for the first time, loxodromes (constant bearings). Before the appearance of his famous world map in 1569, Mercator achieved international reputation as a cartographer, principally through his map of Europe of 1554, which displayed critical ability of a high order. His posthumous fame rests upon his world map published at Duisberg in 1569. Mercator, using conformal projection in his chart showing ‘waxing latitudes’, made an effort to represent the land surfaces as accurately as possible, and to show how much of the earth’s surface was known to the ancients. But the theoretical construction of the projection was not clearly set out until Edward Wright published his ‘Certaine Errors in Navigation’ in 1599. In his outlines of the continents, Mercator broke away completely from the conceptions of Ptolemy, though the latter’s influence in the interior of the Old World can still be traced. He recognised three great landmasses, the old world (Eurasia and Africa), the New Indies (North and South America) and a great southern continent, ‘Continens Australis’. His concept of the existence of a continent in the southern part as a counterpart of the ‘inhabited world’, was derived ultimately from the Greeks. In 1595, a year after his death, his heirs published the complete work with a general title page, Atlas sive cosmographicae meditation de fabrica mundi et fabricati figura. This was the first time the term atlas was applied to a collection of maps.
Land surveying and map-making, an integral part of any government, was pioneered in India by Todarmal who was employed in military operations in Akbar’s empire. In 1567, Todarmal, along with Muzaffar Khan effected a major change in the revenue collection procedure. A new procedure for collecting information about the area of land - cultivated and uncultivated, produce of the land and the land revenue figures or statistics was implemented. In popular memory, the ‘Dahsala’ or 10 yearly revenue system is associated with Todarmal who, along with ‘Diwan’ Shah Mansur, divided the empire into 12 provinces, each with a governor and a ‘Diwan’. Sher Shah Suri’s revenue maps based on regular land surveying system also proves the development of mapping techniques in the medieval period
Mapping the Maps : 1600-1700 AD
1609 Galileo discovers satellites orbiting Jupiter and the concept of an Earth - centred universe with all objects revolving around the earth. He made careful observations and measurments and recorded them in detailed descriptions and drawings.