Tomorrow is the 10 year anniversary of OSM’s API version 0.5. This is the version of the OSM-API that first exposed (among other things) the version number on all OSM objects, making it possible to access the full history of every object modification from this point onward.
This means that very soon, the full history planet file published on planet.osm.org will contain more than 10 years of editing history which can be investigated, evaluated and analyzed (using tools like the OSM history database oshdb that’s currently under development at HeiGIT on the University of Heidelberg, which I presented earlier this year at the State of the Map).
Of course, OpenStreetMap as a project exists for a bit longer than that (about 13 years now) and there was already quite some data mapped before the OSM API 0.5 was introduced 10 years ago.
Here’s an interesting side note: There already existed a
history call in OSM’s API 0.4 (and apparently even in 0.3, see the comments below), but unfortunately this historic data apparently hasn’t been preserved in the newer versions of the OSM API, meaning that it is also not available in the (relatively) easy to use full-history planet dumps which are available nowadays. As far as I can tell, this “prehistoric” OSM data has basically been lost (though some of it might be reconstructible by analyzing the list of very old planet dumps on planet.osm.org). Does someone of you perhaps know what exactly happened to that data back then?