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 capability 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 capabilities 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 Algebraconcepts. 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 version named Model Builder.
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 softcopyphotogrammetry 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.