In the first years of Orienteering’s existence, orienteers used any type of maps available, usually local topographic maps. For example, in the 1940s, events were held in Scandinavia using maps on a scale of 1:100000 (1 cm = 1 km), generally in black and white and without contour lines to show the landforms. Later, and mainly in Scandinavia, maps with a larger scale 1:50000, 1:40000, 1:20000 began to be used.

The image on the side shows one of the first maps made specifically for Orienteering.

In countries where large-scale topographic maps did not exist, tourist maps were often used.

The first color orienteering map, with field work and drawing made specifically for the practice of orienteering, was published in Norway in 1950.

Gradually, maps began to be drawn that responded to the specific characteristics of Orienteering, that is, with more detailed information. The scale of these first maps was 1:25000 or 1:20000, with equidistances of 10m or 5m.

Jan Martin Larsen was the great pioneer in the development of specific Orienteering maps, having chaired the first IOF Map Commission, in 1965. This Map Commission is responsible, among other functions, for developing the ISOM‘s, having in the year of its foundation created the first version of this specification.

A major innovation in the production of Orienteering maps was the emergence of specific computer programs for drawing maps, which led to the simplification of this task. For many years, the program widely used by orienteering cartographers worldwide was OCAD. However, in recent years, the free OpenOrienteering Mapper software has been significantly developed and gained many users.