clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Before There Was Google Street View, There Was The Aspen Movie Map


Do you know that decades before Google Street View came into play, with Priuses driving around logging photos from street corners nationwide, a bunch of MIT nerds did pretty much the same thing in Aspen? The year was 1978, and DARPA - the slice of the Department of Defense that works on futuristic military projects - wanted a way to virtually map a battlefield so soldiers could see the terrain before fighting in it.

So a group from MIT's Architecture Machine Group mounted a bunch of 16 mm stop-motion film cameras on top of a car and drove it around Aspen for a couple of months. A bike wheel mounted along the car would trigger the cameras every ten feet, and the footage was loaded onto a laserdisc in a manner corresponding with a map of the city, and an interface was programed that allowed a viewer to plot their way through town in the same left-right-forward-back fashion that Street View now allows. The Aspen Movie Map was born. Later, the team would use the pictures of the facades of Aspen buildings and place the 2D images onto a 3D wireframe map to build a virtual mock-up of the city. Take that, Eric Schmidt!

· The Aspen Movie Map beat Google Street View by 28 years [VICE]