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|This article relies on references to primary sources. (May 2012)|
|Initial release||ERDAS 4 1978, ERDAS 7.x 1982, Erdas Imagine 1990|
|Stable release||2013 / December 2012|
|Written in||C, C++|
|Operating system||Windows 32-64-bit: XP, 7, 8, Server 2008, Server 2012|
|Type||GIS, remote sensing|
ERDAS IMAGINE is a remote sensing application with raster graphics editor abilities designed by ERDAS for geospatial applications. The latest version is 2013, version 13.0.2. ERDAS IMAGINE is aimed primarily at geospatial raster data processing and allows the user to prepare, display and enhance digital images for mapping use in geographic information system (GIS) or in computer-aided design (CAD) software. It is a toolbox allowing the user to perform numerous operations on an image and generate an answer to specific geographical questions.
By manipulating imagery data values and positions, it is possible to see features that would not normally be visible and to locate geo-positions of features that would otherwise be graphical. The level of brightness, or reflectance of light from the surfaces in the image can be helpful with vegetation analysis, prospecting for minerals etc. Other usage examples include linear feature extraction, generation of processing work flows ("spatial models" in ERDAS IMAGINE), import/export of data for a wide variety of formats, orthorectification, mosaicking of imagery, stereo and automatic feature extraction of map data from imagery.
Before the ERDAS IMAGINE Suite, ERDAS, Inc. developed various products to process satellite imagery from AVHRR, Landsat MSS and TM, and Spot Image into land cover, land use maps, map deforestation, and assist in locating oil reserves under the product name ERDAS. These older ERDAS applications were rewritten from FORTRAN to C and C++ and exist today within the ERDAS IMAGINE Suite which has grown to support most optical and radar mapping satellites, airborne mapping cameras and digital sensors used for mapping.
The first version of ERDAS was launched in 1978 on Cromemco microcomputers based on the 8-bit Z80 CPU running the CDOS operating system. The system was built into a desk and was configured with one color monitor (256 x 256 resolution), one B&W monitor, two 8" floppy drives (one for software and one for data). Later other options were added, such as a large digitizing tablet, and a hard drive (hard drives usually did not exist on computers this size). The hard drive was a CDC model about the size of a small washing machine. It had 80 MB fixed disks and a very large 16 MB removable platter. When the hard disk was installed, ERDAS engineers had to cut out the back of the computer furniture to make room for the cables.
In 1980, ERDAS, Inc. developed the ERDAS 400. This early ERDAS system was a turnkey computerized forest-management system for the state of New York. The hardware needed to make this ability available at an affordable price did not exist at the time, therefore some circuit board and other hardware designs were created by ERDAS to deliver the product. Between 1980 and 1982 different versions of ERDAS 400 legacy were delivered to NASA, US Forest Service, US Environmental Protection Agency, the State of Illinois, and others.
In November 1982 ERDAS 7.0 was released. This product was a movement from the more turnkey, custom design of the ERDAS 400 systems to a DOS IBM Personal Computer. These systems continued to be a command prompt system, but added a nested menu assisting customers through prompts needed to process the imagery into data used in a GIS.
In ERDAS 7.2 (Jan 1983) the first PC version of ERDAS software was licensed to the University of South Carolina Department of Geography. The release of versions ERDAS 7.0 - 7.5 marked a period of wide acceptance of remote sensing technology among US federal and state government agencies as well as research universities needing to monitor natural resource changes.
A link between ESRI ARC/INFO and ERDAS 7.3 was introduced in 1988. The "ERDAS-ARC/INFO Live Link" allowed the mapping community to use technology from both companies to deliver high quality image display and image processing with powerful GIS ability. This relationship between ESRI and ERDAS, Inc. remained strong at a high management level and in various product offerings into 2007. This strong relationship began very early, as the ERDAS founders Lawrie Jordan and Bruce Rado and ESRI founder Jack Dangermond all attended the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
The final version of the ERDAS product line was ERDAS 7.5. ERDAS 7.5 was completed as the new product, ERDAS IMAGINE was being developed. All the abilities of ERDAS 7.5 were merged into ERDAS IMAGINE.
ERDAS IMAGINE was demonstrated in October 1991 and released as ERDAS IMAGINE 8.0 in February 1992. It was released on a Sun Workstation using SunOS providing a Graphical User Interface to assist in visualizing imagery used in mapping, vector GIS data, creating maps, and so forth. Much of the ERDAS 7.5 product was provided for several years through intermediate product releases of ERDAS 8.01 & 8.02 until the ERDAS IMAGINE product replaced all the ERDAS 7.5 ability in 1994 with the release of ERDAS IMAGINE 8.1.
The relationship between the ERDAS and ARC/INFO products began with the "ERDAS-ARC/Info Live Link" and was expanded in ERDAS IMAGINE 8.2 (Feb 1993), when ERDAS released the Imagine Vector Module. This add-on was fully developed by ERDAS, but licensed the Arc Coverage data format from ESRI. The vector module is one of the most popular modules within the ERDAS IMAGINE product suite through the 9.3 release (Sept 2008).
The processing of radar data in ERDAS IMAGINE began with the development of the Radar Module, first released in Nov. 1992. The abilities have been upgraded many times since with the original tools now named "Radar Interpreter."
ERDAS IMAGINE Spatial Modeler
With the release of ERDAS 7.5 in 1990 ERDAS introduced a GIS Modeling (GISMO) script language. Tools were made available to assist in the development of complex spatial models using Dana Tomlin’s Map Algebra concepts. GISMO was upgraded in 1992 with the release of ERDAS IMAGINE 8.0 to the Spatial Modeler scripting language. Model Maker, a graphic flow chart model building enhancement to Spatial Modeler was introduced in 1993.In 2004 ESRI copied the graphic flow chart model building environment idea and released an ArcGIS component named Model Builder.
With the release of ERDAS IMAGINE 2013 in December 2012, the Model Maker’s graphical user interface was changed and its architecture was rewritten from a push model to a pull model. This re-architecture allows many complex models to be processed directly to a viewer in near-real time. A Python capability was added at this time. 
ERDAS IMAGINE Softcopy Photogrammetry
In Dec. 1991, "Erdas Digital Ortho" was released in the mature Erdas 7.5 product suite. Digital Ortho was one of the earliest commercial softcopy photogrammetry packages. It was upgraded to "Imagine Digital Ortho" in ERDAS IMAGINE 8.0.1 release. Imagine Digital Ortho was upgraded to the "IMAGINE OrthoMAX" in 8.0.2. The release of OrthoMAX was a move from a GIS and Remote Sensing user focus to a Photogrammetry user focus. This changed the Imagine photogrammetry offerings into more of a production realm, where the remote sensing products had moved years before. In version 8.3.1 (Jan 1998) OrthoMAX was upgraded into the OrthoBASE product. Along with the release of OrthoBASE single frame resection was added to the core Imagine product. This allowed the GIS community to ortho-correct imagery as needed on a non-production level. In 2003, OrthoBASE was renamed to Leica Photogrammetry Suite and is known by its acronym LPS today.
- Remote sensing
- Geographic information system (GIS)
- Geographic information systems in geospatial intelligence
- Land cover
- Leica Photogrammetry Suite
- List of Earth observation satellites
- Imagery analysis
- Comparison of GIS software
- Comparison of raster graphics editors
- Imagem, for ERDAS in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.
- Intergraph Geospatial (formerly ERDAS, Inc.)
- Geosystems France, Inc.
- ERDAS Spatial Modeler Language Reference Manual
- Field Guide Blog (April 15, 2009). "A Brief History of ERDAS IMAGINE ". Retrieved on May 25, 2009.
- InfoWorld, April 29, 1985; A15, A18
- ERDAS-PC Ad, PE&RS March 1986. American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS), Bethesda, Maryland, p335.
- ERDAS-ARC/INFO Live Link Ad, PE&RS April 1988. American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS), Bethesda, Maryland, p455.
- “Imagery in Urban Planning,” ArcNews Winter 1999/2000. ESRI, Redlands, California.  Retrieved on May 25, 2009.
- “ArcView Image Analysis 1.1 Now Available,” ArcNews Summer 2000. ESRI, Redlands California.  Retrieved on May 25, 2009.
- ERDAS IMAGINE Ad, PE&RS February 1992. American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS), Bethesda, Maryland, p141.
- ERDAS IMAGINE Ad, PE&RS May 1993. American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS), Bethesda, Maryland, p568.
- “ERDAS Releases Radar Module” Announcement, “Products” Column, PE&RS November 1992. American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS), Bethesda, Maryland, p1539.
- "ERDAS IMAGINE® 2013 Features Next-Generation Spatial Modeler". Retrieved 2013-03-11.
- ERDAS Digital Ortho Ad, PE&RS December 1991. American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS), Bethesda, Maryland, p1539.
- “OrthoMAX”, Monitor. Summer 1993. ERDAS, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia, Vol. 5 No. 2 p3