Google Street View Was Actually Invented In 1978

“Don’t be evil” —Google Company Slogan

In a Nutshell

In 2007, internet kingpins Google unveiled their latest creation: Google Street View, a revolutionary new service which gave web users the ability to view 360-degree panoramas of streets all over the world. It’s just too bad that MIT invented the exact same thing in 1978.

The Whole Bushel

In 1978, a team at MIT (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) began work on the Aspen Movie Map, a computer program which allowed people to take a virtual tour through the streets of Aspen, Colorado.

With funding from ARPA, the team was able to outfit a car with four 16mm cameras — as well as an optical sensor which triggered the cameras to take a picture every 10ft — and drive this through the city. Filming could only take place between the hours of 10am and 2pm, in order to avoid discrepancies in lighting between filming sessions. Meanwhile, the drivers of the car were careful to stick to the centre of every street, so that when the footage was pieced together the driving lines weren’t broken up.

Back in the lab, the footage was transferred to laserdisc and then mapped to a two-dimensional plan of Aspen, in order to create the final three-dimensional product. The interface of the Aspen Movie Map would be instantly familiar to users of Street View; via an on-screen control panel, users were able to make their own way through the city, choosing any route they liked, all whilst exploring the streets from four directions. In case any users got lost during their tour, there was a city map overlaid on the horizon which indicated their current position and allowed them to navigate to more familiar territory.

Show Me The Proof

Technology Review: Déjà View
Michael Naimark: Aspen Moviemap

  • rhijulbec

    There is nothing ”new” under the sun. lol Really liking this new endeavour.

  • Rykert

    GPS only became operational in 1995. There was a actual street view system called “Position Images” working 360 degree images on interactive maps with GPS coordinates in 1999-2000.

  • Antony Antoin

    DUH!. and Charles Babbage invented “Computing” in 1849 because he had a “computing engine”
    Panoramic photography has been around since the 1900’s. Digitizing 16mm film and putting in on a Laser Disk. May have been revolutionary in 1978. But it’s not related to Street View as we know it today.