The United States Geological Survey (USGS) entered the mainstream of developments in computer-assisted technology for mapping during the 1970s. The introduction by USGS of digital line graphs (DLGs), digital elevation models (DEMs), and land use data analysis (LUDA) nationwide land-cover data provided a base for the rapid expansion of the use of GIS in the 1980s. Whereas USGS had developed the topologically structured DLG data and the Geographic Information Retrieval and Analysis System (GIRAS) for land-cover data, the Map Overlay Statistical System (MOSS), a nontopologically structured GIS software package developed by Autometric, Inc., under contract to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, dominated the use of GIS by federal agencies in the 1970s. Thus, USGS data was used in MOSS, but the topological structure, which later became a requirement for GIS vector datasets, was not used in early GIS applications. The introduction of Esri's ARC/INFO in 1982 changed that, and by the end of the 1980s, topological structure for vector data was essential, and ARC/INFO was the dominant GIS software package used by federal agencies.
Additional publication details
A 125 year history of topographic mapping and GIS in the U.S. Geological Survey 1884-2009, part 2: 1980-2009
Center of Excellence for Geospatial Information Science (CEGIS)