Markus Neteler neteler at osgeo.org
Thu Dec 13 11:42:51 PST 2012


here a communication between Jim and me concerning the
age of GRASS. In short, it seems to be the 29 July 1983 the
"first" (birth)day.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Westervelt, James D ERDC-RDE-CERL-IL <James.D.Westervelt at erdc.dren.mil>
Date: Fri, Nov 30, 2012 at 9:09 PM
Subject: Re: Age of GRASS GIS?
To: Markus Neteler <markus.neteler at fmach.it>
Cc: "van at wdv.com" <van at wdv.com>

Markus, birth date of GRASS.  Interesting notion :-)

I'm copying to Van Warren who may be able to nail down a better date.


I'm looking some paper evidence evidence...

1980 - LAGRID - Westervelt Master's thesis GIS software, Mainframe computer
developed, then ported to Cromemco Z-80.  FORTRAN

1982 - FHIS (Fort Hood Information System) - Vax 11/780 minicomputer, UNIX,
C language.  This was based on a contract with the environmental office at
Fort Hood, Texas.   The main programmer was L. Van Warren

1983 - GIS   Reworked FHIS to separate the database from the software.
This may be when the database structure that exists today was created. I
have a printout of "GIS Version 1 Reference Manual" dated 29 July 1983 by
myself and Michael O'Shea
GIS programs:
    cellmod (grid editor)
    coin (r.coin)
    combine (boolean combination)
    distance (r.buffer)
    dotmap (graphics on a dot-matrix printer)
    erase (d.erase)
    layer_info (r.info)
    list (g.list)
    over (d.rast, but for b/w monitor)
    reclass (r.reclass)
    sho_over (display the image created by over)
    table (stats associated with over)
    whats_here (r.info with a mask)
    window (g.region)

August, 1983 - Purchased first Sun-150 computers (2)  The pricelist and
specs are interesting:

$8900 16 bit, 10Mhz, 256Kb memory, 10Mbps Ethernet plus 100*800 17" b/w
$3400 1Mbyte extra memory
$2000 3/4M Fast Sun Memory
$1590 Barko color monitor
$6540 80Mbyte hard disk
$1900 Disk controller board
$5500 Dot Matrix printer
$1500 Vanilla UNIX software -or-
$2000 4.2BSD plus library of graphics software

1983/1984 - Delivery of one of the Sun computers to Fort McClellan, Alabama.
Called the system IGIS (Installation GIS)
IGIS Analysis capabilities:
    Boolean combination - gridcell and polygon
    Weighted overlay - gridcell and polygon (reworked later into r.mapcalc)
    Distance-from (now r.buffer)
    Isoline generation (grid to poly - now r.contour?)
    Coincident tabluation (now r.coin)
    Mathematical combination (reworked later into r.mapcalc)

We needed a better name and eventually chose GRASS, but I'm not clear on
when that happened.


Perhaps the 7/29/83 date is as good as any.  This is a known date for a user
manual of the first system intended to be generically adaptable to any
location with a well-defined database structure.  It was called "GIS" for a
very short time and was renamed to IGIS when it went to Fort McClellan in
late 83 or early 84.  When substantial interest appeared outside of the Army
we needed a different name, GRASS was born way before it was named GRASS.

GRASS does not have any LAGRID code in it, though some coding notions are
there.  GRASS may have some FHIS code, but FHIS was written with the code
and data mixed together.  It ran remotely, not on a local machine. It could
be argued to be the first version of GRASS.

When the GRASS name came about we had three separate products: GRASS_GRID,
GRASS_POLY, and GRASS_IMAGERY.  They were rolled together later with the
current naming convention identifying programs as raster, vector, etc.

> From: Markus Neteler <markus.neteler at fmach.it>
> Date: Fri, 30 Nov 2012 16:41:38 +0100
> To: "Westervelt, James D ERDC-RDE-CERL-IL" <James.D.Westervelt at erdc.dren.mil>
> Subject: Age of GRASS GIS?
> Jim,
> hope you are well :)
> We wonder how old GRASS really is... which date do you consider as birth date?
> We want to celebrate 30 years when it is time...!
> thanks
> Markus

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