The Automatic Picture Transmission (APT) was first transmitted in December 1963 from TIROS VII (Television Infrared Observation Satellite) as an experiment. The purpose was to demonstrate the feasibility of sending images of cloud formations from the weather satellite direct to the user, anywhere on the face of the Earth. The only requirement was that the user must provide his own receiver and processing capability. 

The program proved to be an instant success, especially for the detection of severe storms and for monitoring their movement. Ground systems designed by NASA were made simple and affordable, and NASA offered the use of this technology to the entire world as a free service. Currently, under management by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the system provides operational service to most countries of the world. Many dedicated engineers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) and at RCA developed the satellite and ground system segment of the APT system. The development of a low-cost ground system and the promotion of its use to help anticipate meteorological problems on Earth was performed by Charles Vermillion at GSFC. The benefits in saving life and property are difficult to measure; however, in one instance, it is estimated that 12,000 lives were saved in Bangladesh in the May 1985 cyclone. U.S. industry enjoys considerable benefits from this technology. Total value of ground systems purchased from U.S. companies since 1963 is in the hundreds of millions.
In 1978, the Science and Technology Laboratory (STL), formerly the Earth Resources Laboratory (ERL), at NASA's Stennis Space Center (SSC), began its program of image and geographical information system processing of satellite and airplane data. This data-gathering process is known as remote sensing. It is technology that enables meteorologists, scientists, climatologists, and others to monitor changing conditions on earth. Data is gathered from spaceborne sensors that detect various types of radiation obtained from the earth. The transformation of that data into useable information is embodied in the NASA developed Earth Resources Laboratory Application Software (ELAS). 

ELAS was developed in response to a NASA requirement that SSC innovate and execute a training program to enhance the transfer of remote sensing and related computer technologies to the public and commercial sectors. Working with data from the Landsat resources survey satellites and other sources, ELAS provided digital images that served in such areas as agricultural inventory, oil and mineral prospecting, weather forecasting, charting sources of fresh water, wildlife preservation, air and water pollution monitoring, delineating urban growth patterns, improving map accuracy, and studying floods to reduce the potential for devastation. Throughout the 1980s and 90s, this tool has become indispensable and continues to be applied in new arenas. The ELAS software is now utilized in support of many other unique endeavors besides processing data from satellite and aircraft. It's now producing images of antiquities; enhancing magnetic resonance images of the human body; analyzing urban microclimatology; and processing submarine sonar images.