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Microsoft Terraserver Was The Google Earth Of The 90s That Microsoft Killed

15 November 2015, 9:31 pm EST By Dave Calpito Tech Times
Microsoft killed off what used to be Google Earth before Google was established: the Terraserver. Terraserver was deemed the earliest publicly available interactive satellite map of the planet and was regarded as the biggest database for quite some time.  ( Justin Sullivan | Getty Images )

Four years prior to the establishment of Google, Microsoft created what used to be the Google Earth of the 90s: the Terraserver.

Nevertheless, this one terabyte storage system, which is the earliest publicly available interactive satellite map of the planet and was regarded as the biggest database for quite some time, was regrettably wiped out by Microsoft.

Motherboard sat down with Tom Barclay, the person behind this Microsoft's project.

"[T]he company didn't care about the information," says Barclay, speaking about Microsoft. "Google was an information company first. They saw the value of the information."

When the project began, the plan was to basically come up with a database to try out Microsoft's next-generation database solution. The company would not care what data it hosted, as long as it was humongous.

The concept of putting searchable satellite photographs of the planet over the Internet popped up when Hedy Rossmeisl of the United States Geological Survey( USGS) met with Jim Gray to plan this endeavor in 1997. Right at that moment, the USGS was preparing to push out grayscale satellite pictures along with other aerial photographs online.

Rossmeisl recounted during an interview that the USGS at that time had images from half of the nation done digitally. She said that they had some capacities to provide the photos although not in a quick and accessible way. She added that obtaining the information on the net was really essential.

"I wanted to help make it happen," she says.

In the meantime, Barclay says that within the initial year, he received 20,000 emails. Nearly all emails said one of two points: either they loved Terraserver simply because they spotted their house or they disliked Terraserver since they didn't see their house.

“The very first demo we did, I chopped Bill Gates’s house in half, which was not very good,” says Barclay.

Based on an article published on USA Today in June 1998, the first plan was to list each and every transaction in the history of the New York Stock Exchange on the web. The list was supposed to have been searchable. This, however, was just one-half terabyte of data.

Google and Microsoft are among the most significant firms across the world. Google has a market valuation of $505 billion while Microsoft has  notched a market valuation of $420 billion.

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