Maps and Computers
A lifetime project
This has been a very long-term hobby of mine: to create a digital map of the depicting historical events and territorial changes. The current versions of this program "mapper", runs on a Windows platform, and covers 2400 BCE to (so far) 514 BCE. There are over 6500 actions depicted at this point, with 0.1 year resolution. There are labels for the depicted areas and cities are also labelled. I'm not so much interested in the programs as viewing tools, although they have full temporal controls and unlimited zoom capabilities. Rather I use them as tools to help in the creation of the content (data files), which are to me the most important aspect of the project. Currently these files are in a simple text format, although it should be relatively straightforward to convert them to the kml format used by Google Earth.
There are two currently versions of the map. The original version is coded in Visual Basic 6, and I have been working on it since 2011, shortly after my retirement. I am a radiation physicist, having spent my career at NBS (now NIST) in Maryland. However, I've always had a strong interest in history, and particularly mapping using computers. I started my first version of this map in 1982 on an Apple II, with just Europe depicted in very low spatial resolution from 363 CE to 1895. I abandoned that version in 1993, and began a second version, this one in GWBASIC on an IBM AT system, at somewhat better resolution, which went from 1896 to 1994. I then began thinking about a much more ambitious version, to include the whole world and starting very early. For a base map I obtained VMAP Level 1 data from the US government and learned how to decode it and work it into the program I was simultaneously developing to display the maps, keeping the tile structure of the VMAP1 data. I'm not a professional programmer by any means, and know my code contains a great deal of inefficiency, yet it gets the job done. In 2021 I began another version, mapper.NET, written in Visual Basic 2019. It runs about 10 times faster than the original version and has double the resolution.
I have so far been reluctant in the 40 years I have been working on this mapping project to make any of this public. However, I'm not getting any younger, and would not like to have all this work (over 5000 hours on the current versions, so far) disappear when I do. So, I am starting an effort to go public, with this website. I welcome input and will consider any offers for collaborations. Feel free to contact me with a single date map request, and I will generate it and send it to you. I would like to create an on-line version of the program, which was one of the motivations to create the .NET version, but I will need some help to make that happen. In the meantime, I want to focus my energies on creating new content and advancing as far forward in time as is possible.