Rumsey has a collection of 10,000+ historical maps scanned in at extremely high resolution, and has been doing a lot of really cool stuff with them, like taking old maps, correcting their scale to match up with reality, and letting you crossfade between old and modern maps of the same area; placing the maps on a globe and letting you zoom in from space; combining the maps with topographical data and letting you fly through 3D scenes; and all kinds of stuff. Not only is there a vast amount of data on his site, there are also really cool visualization tools.
If you're running Windows, you should check out his site, because it looks like there's some really cool stuff in there.
It's a shame I can't get any of it to work!
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He's got four ways of accessing the data, the idea being, give people a taste of it with simple tools, and let them download the more complicated tools once they realize that the data is useful to them. Good plan, except I can't get any of it to work:
For the first time in almost six years, I downloaded and installed the Java runtime on my machine, only to find that his Java client doesn't work either. It appeared to download an entire second copy of the Java runtime, along with an application. However, this application doesn't run in a browser, it only works if you launch it with a Windows .exe, and WINE doesn't like it. So no luck there.
The "GIS Browser" Java applet does some crazy thing, but one that doesn't involve actually showing maps or anything. It lets me draw circles. Oooh, circles.
Moral: if you insist on having a UI that is more complex than the typical web page, Flash (sucktastic though it is) is probably still the most portable way to do it.