The first true atlas in the modern sense was published on 22 May 1570.
Today satellite imagery is used to verify the measurements, shapes and locations of important geographic features. The maps of the world today are more accurate than they used to be. With no satellite view, old world maps could only be based on what was known or imagined about the world at the time they were drawn.
Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598), a Dutch-born cartographer, produced the first modern atlas called the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theatre of the World).
Cartography is the art and science of making maps.
chartis = map graphein = write
After publishing a World Map in 1564, printed on eight sheets, he decided to gather a collection of maps from among his European cartographer contacts and had them engraved and bound in uniform size to produce the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum.
Ortelius's World Map
(click on the image for a larger image)
Terra Australis, the great mythical southern continent at the time, is at the bottom of the map. The myth of the great southern continent was finally dispelled by the discoveries of Captain James Cook in 1769.