An Electronic Thomas Guide Is on the Way : Maps: The computer-screen atlases could be used by businesses, school districts to track growth, and by politicians to redraw district boundaries.


After more than half a century of helping Southern California motorists find their way, Thomas Bros. plans to release its first electronic atlas of Los Angeles and Orange counties this month.

The electronic guides, the company said, could be used by businesses to plot delivery routes, help school districts track population growth and even enable politicians to redraw district boundaries.

Thomas Bros., publisher of the popular Thomas Guide street locater maps, created the computer database of Southern California from scratch by analyzing aerial photographs and existing maps.

The project began five years ago with an electronic mapping of Sacramento County. The computerized map of Sacramento hit the market in January, 1990.


The mapping of Southern California took 3 1/2 years to complete, mainly because the task required the collection of millions of bits of data, such as detail on 355,750 street blocks in Los Angeles County.

Thomas Bros. will introduce two products based on its new geographic computerized database, according to Kris Bonner, a computer-products manager for the Irvine map maker.

On Sept. 27, the company will introduce the 1992 version of its Southern California Thomas Guide in book form. Based on more accurate electronic maps, the guides will feature uniform distance standards, 30% larger pages, easier-to-read street names and an improved index, Bonner said.

Also this month, the company will release GeoFinder 1.1, a software package that contains broad maps of the counties on computer disk. It will be aimed at businesses and city planning departments that use maps for planning purposes.


For instance, one of the computerized maps comes with software that companies can use to help plan commuter ride-sharing programs to comply with environmental regulations, said Charles Cone, the company’s product manager. Computerized mapping also allows users to extract information based on ZIP codes, census data or the type of road, he said.

In January, the company will release its GeoFinder 2.0 product, which will contain detailed street-by-street data of the region on a computer disk. Prices of the computerized maps will range from $5,000 to $54,000.

Thomas Bros. eventually plans to offer computerized maps for all 26 counties for which it now publishes Thomas Guides in book form, Cone said.