Verso la fine degli anni '90 Microsoft, per testare le sue soluzioni basate su SQL server, creò il più grande database del mondo. Un terabyte di dati contenente le immagini satellitari di tutto il pianeta raccolte dallo United States Geological Survey. Una versione in bianco e nero di Google Earth.
Motherboard racconta perché nessuno, o quasi, si sia mai accorto di TerraServer.
Terraserver could have, should have been a product that ensured Microsoft would remain the world's most important internet company well into the 21st century. It was the first-ever publicly available interactive satellite map of the world. The world's first-ever terabyte-sized database. In fact, it was the world’s largest database for several years, and that Compaq was—physically speaking—the world's largest computer. Terraserver was a functional and popular Google Earth predecessor that launched and worked well before Google even thought of the concept. It let you see your house, from space.
So why aren't we all using Terraserver on our smartphones right now?
Probably for the same reason Microsoft barely put up a fight as Google outpaced it with search, email, browser, and just about every other consumer service. Microsoft, the corporation, didn't seem to care very much about the people who actually used Terraserver, and it didn't care about the vast amount of data about consumers it was gleaning from how they used the service.
"It was something we did to show off our software could do this, but the company didn't care about the information," Barclay told me. "Google was an information company first. They saw the value of the information."