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Map Overlay and Statistical System (MOSS)


This wiki page summarizes all currently available facts, links and references about the first open source GIS application MOSS.

Significance for OSGeo

The annual OSGeo award is named after the late Sol Katz, one of the project members of MOSS. See: Sol Katz Award

Heritage Source Code Repository


MOSS-archives mailing list

For discussions related to the archiving process of MOSS, subscribe to the mailing list at:

MOSS-related Resources

Points of contact

  • BLM: Deborah Harnke: Librarian (Reference)
  • MOSS: Carl Reed
  • MOSS repository 2020 (potentionally transient): Māris Nartiss
  • MOSS GitHub repository (2021 - ...): Peter Löwe & Jeff McKenna
  • sdts2dem GitHub repository: Jeff McKenna

MOSS Code Evolution (1978 - 1985)

(according to Carl Reed, personal communication, September 2020)

  1. Carl programmed the original version of MOSS on a CDC mainframe (interactive to a Tek 4010). This version was completed in 1978/79.
  2. In 1979 he ported the CDC code to a General C330 (AOS). This is the version that was then installed at some of the BLM State Offices. This is also the version that was integrated with WAMS.
  3. In 1980, the code was ported to DG Desktop (AOS) for a BLM field application for monitoring and mapping lightning strikes. This may be the very first use of a GIS integrated with a real time sensor system!
  4. In 1983 or so MOSS was ported MOSS/MAPS/COS/WAMS to an HP 550 (UNIX) for the US Army (ETL now AGC). This was for the Terrain Analysis Work Station ([ TAWS]) project. TAWS was a field deployable, mobile GIS and remote sensing capability.
  5. In 1984 Carl converted MOSS to a DEC VAX (VMS) for the DMA Digital Land Mass Simulation activity.
  6. In 1985 the MOSS Arc/Node and DBMS Design project was done. This work was funded by the USGS EROS Data Center

MOSS Codebase Search & Rescue Effort (2019 - 2021)

  1. 20190327: BLM ceased during 2018 (exact date unknown) to host the MOSS sources on its FTP site. The BLM library did not archive a digital copy.
  2. 20190328 Proposal to the OSGeo board to recognize MOSS as a OSGeo heritage project, to ensure future access to the codebase (if recoverable).
  3. 20190329: The wayback-machine of the Internet Archive did take snapshots of the FTP site, but apparently not the subdirectories:*/
  4. 20190610: The BLM library was able to provide several scanned documents regarding MOSS (to be uploaded to this wiki). PL asked them to investigate wether a digital copy could still exist offline at BLM.
  5. 20190613: BLM reports that a digital copy of the codebase has not been retained.
  6. 20200904: Māris Nartiss discovers a remaining copy of the MOSS codebase.
  7. 20200917: Temporary (non-permanent) MOSS code archive at DIW Berlin
  8. 20210423: Sol Katz' utility sdts2dem source code uploaded to
  9. 20210424: MOSS code archive uploaded to transient GitHub repo (to be replaced by an OSGeo repo as soon as possible)
  10. 20210426: The MOSS code archive is long term preserved in the open access repository Zenodo. It can now be cited by a persistent identifier (DOI):
  11. 20210427: Presentation Raiders of the lost code at the European Geoscience Union General Assembly 2021 about the result of the Search and Rescue effort (video).
  12. 20210427: MOSS Archive Release 1.0.0
  13. 20210612: MOSS Archive Release 1.0.1
  14. 20210618: Folder structure update. Fixes Floppy-disk-size related folder size limitations
  15. 20210622: MOSS-archive mailing list launched.
  16. 20210622: MOSS Archive Release 1.0.2
  17. 20210622: domain purchased:
  18. 20210709: new official repository home, hosted by the OSGeo foundation:
  19. 20210709: MOSS Archive Release 1.2.0
  20. 20210709: initial website draft:

MOSS Incubation Process

  1. 20200928: Board decision to make MOSS the first OSGeo Heritage Project.
  2. 20210707: OSGeo MOSS repo at github created, based on the transient repo
  3. 20210729: OSGeo MOSS becomes an Open Access publication in the Zenodo repository, providing due credit for the authors.
  4. 20210817: Incubation status overview table
  5. 20210818: OSGeo heritage project website