Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Oldest Google Map Known to Man

Over the weekend Mapperz asked me if I knew which was the oldest Google Maps mashup that still worked. So I dug out my Indiana Jones hat & whip and began searching through the dusty annals of the Google Maps Mania archives.

At first I thought it was a very easy question to answer. Paul Rademacher's HousingMaps is well known as the oldest Google Maps hack and the last time I had checked I'm pretty sure that HousingMaps still worked. However checking it again this week I found that it has sadly taken a dive into the dead pool. HousingMaps seems to have fallen prey to the discontinuation of the Google Maps API v2 back in November.

The second ever post on Google Maps Mania was about the popular Google Sightseeing website. Google Sightseeing is still very much alive and as popular as ever. But, if my memory serves me correct, in its early days Google Sightseeing was not a hack of Google Maps but used screenshots and links to Google Maps in its never ending quest to bring you the best satellite images from Google Maps. So sadly it doesn't qualify as the oldest Google Maps mashup.

One of the earliest clever Google Maps hacks was by the Malevolent Design blog. Soon after Google Maps was introduced to the world in 2005 Malevolent Design created a nifty web-form that allowed anyone to create a link to Google Maps driving directions. The form still works so it is probably the oldest Google Maps hack still in existence. However it isn't a map - so my quest continues.

In June 2005 Google officially released the Google Maps API. Soon after its release Google Maps Transparencies was created. Google Maps Transparencies used the API to create a clever map that allowed you to overlay a satellite view on top of a map layer. And it still does - because yes Google Maps Transparencies is still alive and well.

So I'm happy to pronounce Google Maps Transparencies as the oldest surviving Google Maps Mashup. Unless of course you know better ...

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