Aerial Photography First Patent

Today in 1893, the first US patent for aerial photography is issued to Cornele B. Adams of Augusta, Georgia (US No. 510,758).  His method of photogrammetry can produce a topographic map by means of photographing the same tract of land from different points from an unmanned stationary balloon on a tether. “The pictures obtained can be converted into topographic maps, to delineate not only the horizontal positions and distances of the objects correctly, but from which the altitude of the objects can be quickly and accurately ascertained, and such results obtained without the aid of other field instruments.”

In September 2011, Google reached 1 billion downloads:

When Keyhole, Inc. launched the Earth Viewer application back in 2001, John Hanke and Brian McClendon, two of Keyhole’s founders, never imagined it would be used in such innovative ways by educators, scientific researchers, activists, and everyday enthusiasts. Keyhole, Inc. was acquired by Google in 2004 and Google Earth was launched the following year.

McClendon reflects on the launch of Google Earth and the shift from primarily enterprise users to the consumer market. “There was a time when explorers spent and risked their lives in search of new geographic discoveries. When we launched Google Earth, we made geographic discovery accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. Armchair adventurers have made significant discoveries using this tool and can claim to be explorers in their own right.”

With your help, Google Earth has truly changed the way we engage with the world. Your creativity has helped democratize mapping, spread new views of our planet and enabled the exchange stories of all kinds across the globe. You’ve used Google Earth to explore, to challenge, to enable and enlighten. You’ve applied it in countless contexts beyond cartography, including cultural preservation, academic discovery, education, environmental protection, humanitarian missions, travel, government, community development and more.

McClendon, now VP of Engineering at Google, looks forward to seeing what the next billion downloads brings. He sees geospatial technology as “not just a tool for those in cartography. It’s now a part of our culture to engage deeply with the world around us in a multitude of ways. Using Google Earth and Google Maps is a way to contextualize our surroundings and create a richer view of our place in the world.”


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