Released to the public free-of-charge in 2005, Google Earth has had more impact on how we view our earth than any cartographer could have imagined. It seems fitting that the software would reach 1 billion downloads on America's Columbus Day, as discovering America then may represent our in-depth analysis of the world now.
Could you remember the days when searching for a global destination required actual research? Searching through pictures and maps that hopefully matched up with the exact location? We have all been spoiled to death with what Google Earth has to offer. Google's mockup of satellite images stranded together can take a foreigner back to their home town, the elderly to places they never had a chance to see, or simply motivate us to take that vacation. Of all Google has brought to the table, Google Earth started a revolution like no other. In many places, the 3D renderings of buildings and structures give us an aspect ratio we previously would have needed to board an aircraft for.
Have you been to the Moon or Mars? Didn't think so. The high resolution images of both we're included in both new electronic globes by 2009. Google Street View debuted earlier in May 2007 in Google Maps, yet was included in the next version of Google Earth soon after. Even more amazing is a feature that allows users to essentially travel back in time to review past images logged from their satellites. This historical imagery will only grow through time to allow future generations to actually see the world we lived in today.
The Earth's current documented population is 6.7 billion. If the every individual in the world downloaded Google Earth a single time, 15% of the population would have this software on their computers. It advanced superbly in 7 years - but what is to come? As technology advances in the years to come, we may one day see ourselves in realtime - who knows. On Google Street View within Google Earth I'm standing at my old residence mowing my lawn - where were you? Leave comments below!