California, USA, 20 July 2006: Nick Chrisman, Professor of Geomatic Sciences at Université Laval in Quebec City, Canada, tells the story in his new book, “Charting the Unknown: How Computer Mapping at Harvard Became GIS”, published by ESRI Press.
In the book, Chrisman tells how Howard Fisher, a retired architect from Chicago, started the Harvard Laboratory for Computer Graphics and Spatial Analysis in the mid-1960s with Ford Foundation grant money. His book covers topics such as early computer mapping software and experiments in computer cartography. Programming ventures such as SYMAP, SYMVU, POLYVRT, and others led to ODYSSEY, the prototype for modern GIS software, writes Chrisman, who himself worked as a researcher at the lab from 1972 to 1982.
The book also includes a CD-ROM containing three historic short films showing animated visualization, plus videotaped interviews with some of the lab’s creative minds including Allan Schmidt, the lab’s former executive director; Jack Dangermond, Founder and President of ESRI; and Scott Morehouse, Director of software development at ESRI.