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I try to maintain the history of objects when editing, for example putting consideration which half of a way gets the history when splitting it.

This led me to wonder what is the oldest object on OSM, and what are the oldest basic types of objects (node, way, relation). Does anyone with more skills than me know how to figure this out?

asked 26 Nov '17, 02:26

keithonearth's gravatar image

accept rate: 13%


Well Steve Coast started the project see I haven't been able to find his edits. The editing and recording system must have evolved a lot since (2004?). But the link above does have a contact for him so you could ask him, but he is probably quite a busy guy. If you do contact him and get the answer please let us know.

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answered 26 Nov '17, 09:53

andy%20mackey's gravatar image

andy mackey
accept rate: 4%

edited 27 Nov '17, 09:59

Ways and Relations are more difficult than nodes because they've undergone changes in their data model, respectively been invented, sometime along the road. Nodes are the oldest data type that survives (largely) unchanged but even there the ancient history can be murky.

In theory it would be as easy as looking at the objects with the lowest numerical IDs. However, not only have many mappers playfully repurposed those prestigious IDs during the life of the project (just study the history of node #1), but also (due to the aforementioned murkiness) the smallest ID doesn't necessarily mean the oldest age. The license change also additionally complicates such research as some old edits may be beyond reach today.

The oldest currently-recorded edit is version 1 of node #5 created in April 2005 by Steve Coast, the founder of OpenStreetMap. The oldest edit where tags were used on a node was Marley Common in November 2005 by Nick Whitelegg, and this oldest tagged node has indeed survived - minus small changes to the tagging scheme - until today.

If you want to do further research, grab a "full history" PBF and run it through the osmium command line tool like so:

osmium cat history-latest.osh.pbf -f opl -o history.opl

The resulting "OPL" text file can easily be processed with text-based utilities, e.g. to find all edits in 2005 and sort them,

grep " t2005" history.opl | sort -k5 | less

As I said initially, the concept of ways as we know them didn't exist back in 2005; we had "segments" for a while and they could be grouped into "ways", but none of that will be reflected in today's history files. You would have to get hold of a very old planet.osm.bz2 file to dive into that part of history.

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answered 26 Nov '17, 10:42

Frederik%20Ramm's gravatar image

Frederik Ramm ♦
accept rate: 23%


Which backs up the oral history that the first nodes in OSM were added in Regent's Park, London, by Steve.

(26 Nov '17, 11:49) Richard ♦

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question asked: 26 Nov '17, 02:26

question was seen: 2,109 times

last updated: 27 Nov '17, 09:59

NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum