Surveying, Mapping and GIS

Exploring all aspects of mapping and geography, from field data collection, to mapping and analysis, to integration, applications development and enterprise architecture...

  • Geospatial Technology, End to End...

    Exploring all aspects of mapping and geography, from field data collection, to mapping and analysis, to integration, applications development, enterprise architecture and policy

A Blast from the Past

Posted by Dave Smith On 3/31/2009 07:38:00 PM 9 comments

Some late night discussion with @GeoBabbler (Bill Dollins) and others last night led to this little flight of fancy...  Bill was wondering if there were still any old copies of ArcView 1.0 around.  Being a GIS geezer and a bit of a technology packrat, it turns out I still had a copy.  Scary.  As @FantomPlanet suggested, I reckon I have a bit of a Museum of GIS Antiquity going on - I believe I actually still have ancient copies of MapInfo, Atlas, GeoMedia, AutoCAD Map 1.0 and others floating around, plus quite a bit of hand-coded stuff from the days when COTS GIS was not even widely available.

Scarier yet, I still have copies of MS-DOS and Windows 3.1 around.  

And...  to top it off, I was actually able to lay my hands on them and try things out again.

Actually, what I did was stand up a VirtualBox instance and load up Windows for Workgroups 3.11 (ArcView 1 does not run on Win95 and up) and lo and behold, I then got ArcView 1.0 loaded up.

Prepare to enter the time machine and go back over 15 years into the past:
Above:  Note the MDI interface
Above:  Supplied "neweng.av" Tutorial data with choropleth mapping of New England...

Above:  Version "1.0a"

Above:  "maplewd.av" Tutorial data...

Supported data types: Arc/Info coverages, workspaces images (note .bil image supplied as part of the AV1.0 tutorial data), address coverage...  Note also that shapefiles are NOT supported.

An interesting look at the past. A capable GIS viewing and querying tool, though no editing capability was supplied with 1.0. So... Why would one want to load up ArcView 1.0? You probably don't - probably best to live vicariously through my little adventure here. But... if you ever do, VirtualBox provides some dicey support for it (I did still get the divide By zero error initially, but eventually it started working) - and, you can actually still download a copy of 1.0 here: and if you still have a copy of MS-DOS and Windows 3.1, you should be good to go.

Fun stuff!  Brought back some memories...

[edit - removed the hyperlinks from the images (and thereby the preview snapshots, per comment below)...  not sure why blogger wants to insert them by default anyways...]

9 Response for the " A Blast from the Past "

  1. Anonymous says:

    The snapshots popup that you have on every image is *very* annoying.

  2. Thanks for this post. It is pretty cool to actually see how the software has evolved. It sure makes me thankful for the technology advancements.

  3. Bill says:


    I think it's important to clarify that shapefiles weren't supported because they didn't exist yet. They are so ubiquitous now that it's hard to remember that they weren't always around.


  4. Bill says:

    Upon further examination, those aren't just ARC/INFO coverages, they are PC ARC/INFO coverages!

    Another blast from the past. Do you have that one, too? ;-)


  5. Absolutely right, Bill - the shapefile only came about with the release of ArcView 2. And, PC ARC/INFO was indeed the platform for DOS at the time ArcView 1 came out - as I recall, PC ARC/INFO was released in 1987, ArcView 1 in 1991 or thereabouts - with ArcView initially conceived as a viewer for PC ARC/INFO.

    Now as to PC ARC/INFO - I may actually still have a copy of that floating around as well :)

  6. Anonymous says:

    Wow, we've come a long way since then. Still pretty impressive software package for the time.
    I sometimes miss the simplicity.
    Thanks for the trip back in time!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Looks like Manifold 7.0!

  8. Anonymous says:

    I have an original copy of Harvard Graphics on the shelf. Still in the wrapper. No mention of support for the Windows OS on the box.

    Can't bear to open it. ;^)

  9. Will says:

    Wow... brings back memories. Anyone remember Dr. Watson?