Google Earth was released by Google in June of 2005. It was based on a product Google acquired when it bought the company called Keyhole in the fall of 2004. At the time GE was released, I was looking to learn about blogging and was searching for a topic. Google Earth was a perfect match for my criteria because I’ve worked with satellite and aerial imagery, have worked for many years in 3D computer graphics, have been a heavy GPS user since they came out, and Google Earth was my new favorite software product (and still is five years later). So, in July of 2005, I started writing this blog.
Google Earth has grown by leaps and bounds since 2005. Google has poured many milions of dollars into not only developing the software, but even more so into developing new data for Google Earth. There are many new kinds of data in Google Earth including: Street View imagery, photos from Panoramio, Wikipedia data, billions of points of interest data points on places of business, weather data, the night time sky, the Moon, Mars, and much more. Google also has 3D data now for the Earth’s oceans along with many layers of information about the ocean and the life that lives in it.
When GE was first released, many countries had only low-resolution satellite imagery – with the possible exception of a few major cities. Today, nearly every city on the planet has high-resolution satellite or even aerial imagery. In fact, most countries now have most populated areas in high resolution, and the rest of the country in medium resolution satellite imagery. Many countries are completely covered in high resolution data. Only a few limited unpopulated areas still have low-resolution imagery. Now nearly everyone on the planet is able to search and find the places they’ve lived in Google Earth. Thanks to the historical imagery layer, you can even turn back the clock in many places and see locations at different points in time.
When I first chose to write Google Earth Blog (GEB), I didn’t expect to keep it going for five years. I knew Google Earth would be an extremely popular product. Over the years, as I saw Google’s continual commitment to growing the product and data, I knew it could continue to be popular for a long time. I was amazed when looking at GEB’s statistics that people literally all over the world were reading my stories about Google Earth and the amazing applications people have made with the versatile product. In fact, by 2006 nearly five million unique visitors had read Google Earth Blog, and we have reached over 6 million readers since that time. I’m especially grateful that a significant number of several tens of thousands of people are regular readers of the GEB as well.
I’m glad Google Earth has continued its popularity. I had already been planning a trip around the world by sailboat, and since November of 2009 have already traveled over 10,000 miles from North Carolina to French Polynesia (read about the Tahina Expedition). Google Earth has played a huge role in my travels. For years I’ve been researching places to go with Google Earth and planning routes. Now, as we travel, I’ve been thoroughly documenting our trip by showing our GPS tracks and route plans, GPS tagging all our photography, and I’ve even taken my own super-high resolution kite aerial imagery which is being put into Google Earth (see BBQ island for example).
Until 2009, I wrote all the blog posts myself. But, at the start of my trip, I recruited Mickey Mellen to continue to write GEB while I concentrated on my travels. I think he’s been doing an excellent job of maintaining GEB in my absence, for which I’m very thankful. I also want to give a big thank you to the support I’ve received from many people who are fans of Google Earth and the GEB who have continued to forward story ideas and tricks they’ve learned with the program. Way too many to mention individually. And I would like to give my biggest thanks to the very large team of Googlers who have worked on and continue to grow Google Earth and its related products and data! They are the best development team on Earth!
Captain Frank Taylor
Google Earth Blog – http://gearthblog.com
Tahina Expedition – http://TahinaExpedition.com