A geospatial extension to Postgres. First released in 2001. It added support for storing, indexing and querying geospatial data in Postgres.


May of 2001, at that point I was running a small consulting company here in Victoria, working for the provincial government, mostly working in the geospatial field. Because all of our contracts came from the provincial government, we were very tied to the cycle of when they would release and sign contracts. And the government changed that year, so all the civil servants were very risk averse in terms of signing new contract contracts. They didn't know whether what their budget situation was going to be that year.

So we ended up having like three months where we got almost no direct revenue. We, you know, didn't all go on vacation for three months. We were kind of young, excited about the field. So we thought, you know, let's see if we can build something to store the spatial data in a database. And we had used Postgres for one of our data processing projects the year previous, so we were kind of familiar with it. And that experimental work in the spring of 2001 ended up being released at the end of May 2001 as PostGIS version 0.1.

In the ordinary course events, that sort of would have been : we released it and nothing happened. But amazingly, we released it and like, this almost incredible cavalcade of people showed up and said, "Hey, that's exactly what we wanted". Because there was just this missing piece in the open source web mapping field and the open source geospatial world that everyone was really, really hungering for.

So we just happened to show up with the right piece at the right time, and we got people like Regina showing up, we got folks from the county governments in Georgia showing up, and we got the project leaders of other open source geospatial pieces like MapServer and GeoServer and the Google library showing up. Community was kind of what made it fun from then on.

Like, once you're performing for an audience, it's just way more exciting. Each release is way more exciting because all people will be so happy and I can't wait to see who else shows up and wants to use it. And that sort of cycle of enthusiasm was what kept me interested in and involved in the project for the next 20 years.
—Paul Ramsey (September 8, 2023) "Why people care about PostGIS and Postgres" Path To Citus Con

Transfer to OSGeo (2008)

We started off as a project Refractions. The first website was PostGIS at, and it stayed that way for quite a lot while. It did kind of end up acting a lot like just sort of a classic company-led project. We got some external contributions, but not a lot. We ended up turning one of the external contributors into a contractor because he was soo good.

It remained kind of a company project until 2008. The open source geospatial community in general set up a foundation to provide a neutral home for all these various projects. It's called the Open Source Geospatial Foundation, And at that point I had left the consulting company, the people who were left with it didn't want to invest a great deal into it anymore. So they were over time convinced to release the code to OSGeo.

So OSGeo became the holder that led us to governance. OSGeo suggested that all its projects use an Apache-style governance format. That's when we went from kind of a benevolent dictator situation where I was the benevolent dictator, to a project steering committee set up very much model on the Apache Foundaiton model.
—Paul Ramsey (September 8, 2023) "Why people care about PostGIS and Postgres" Path To Citus Con