Mapping is nearly as old as humanity itself but the collected atlas is a few years younger than the discovery of America by Europeans.
2013 is the 500th anniversary of the Piri Reis map, which can be seen as being the oldest map of the whole world, as it was the first world map to include America as a separate continent (not part of Asia) and is the subject of much intrigue.
Printed maps really took off in Venice in the 1560s when map sellers decided to allow customers to compile their own map books. You could choose to have a few maps of South America (which was being mapped at the time), you could choose to have Giacomo Gastaldi's African maps and perhaps George Lily's Britain - you could choose what you wanted.
The name 'Atlas' was given to a collection of maps by Gerardus Mercator (of Mercator Projection fame) a few years later, in 1595.
Paper maps grew neater and more comprehensive and became available in digital form with the biggest seller being Encarta, available from 1993-2008.
Google Earth, originally called EarthViewer 3D, and was created by Keyhole, Inc. was acquired by Google in 2004 and released 2005.
Our contribution, Interatlas, aims to push interactivity - it is the first atlas which only shows the physical world, with political and other boundaries shown at will.
The future of Interatlas will be expanded interactivity, with different dimensions being visible as you want them to be. Please dont' hesitate to get in touch with any thoughts or suggestions.
For more history and mapping insight have a look at Simon Garfield's excellent 'On The Map'