If you zoom down into the very center of the map on Google Earth, it will take you to the Meadowbrook Apartments on Dover Square in Lawrence, where Brian McClendon grew up.

That is unless you're searching on a Mac.

In which case, it will take you to an intersection in Chanute, where large Google Earth logo mural is painted in the center of the brick street.

McClendon, a former vice president at Google and now a professor at KU, shared with about 150 people who showed up for a free presentation at the Kansas Cosmosphere Sunday on the history of 3-D mapping.

McClendon shared a few other surprising facts.

• There are currently 2,300 open jobs for computers scientists in Kansas alone.

• Last year, the state graduated just 335 people with computer science majors.

• Of those, only 20 percent were women.

"I've done a talk like this 80 times in the last year, from elementary to high schools," McClendon said, trying to spread a message of the need and opportunity for programmers.

Most high schools in the state don't offer computer science classes, and at the middle school their introduction is even rarer. Computer programming or coding, however, is a skill that offers tremendous potential whatever an individual's love or passion.

"One of my pitches to students is, if your passion theater, if your passion is music, if your passion is law, if your passion is art, all these things need software," McClendon said. "Computer programming applies to everything today, from medicine to sports to law. If you learn software, you can still work in your passion industry, and get paid a lot of money and love your work. If you have a different passion 10 years from now, that passion will need software too."

Inspired by Pac Man

McClendon, 54, a Lawrence native and electrical engineering graduate from the University of Kansas, loved playing Pac Man when the video game first came out. It made him decide to build computers and design video games.

For a senior project, he and three fellow students built a computer CPU or central processing unit.

"One was good at wrapping wiring and connecting chips," McClendon said. "Another was good at documentation. He'd just got a new Macintosh. He was from Chanute and was responsible for all the documentation. One wrote the software that executed the program on the CPU -- that was me -- and the other was a hardware designer who laid out the boards. It was an excellent project for my career."

For the next 10 years after graduation, McClendon said, he worked on designing graphics supercomputers.

"Not designing video games, but building the machines used to make video games for Silicon Graphics," he said.

That $250,000 computer he designed was used in developing the first Jurassic Park movie.

"An artist would sit in front of the computer and design dinosaur graphics," he explained, which were then animated by the computer. The first Jurassic movie, he noted, actually only had a few minutes of dinosaur action, with most of the film following people's reactions.

The same computer technology, however, is used today for chemistry modeling and computerized fluid dynamics used in designing aircraft.

"Before this machine, flight simulators that cost $5 million were not even accurate," he said. "We designed a flight simulator that looked like the real thing."

From there, he and a few friends started their own company in 1998 that was developing mapping software using satellite imagery that few computers at the time could even run. While computers did speed up, only 10 to 15 percent could download data, because modem speeds were so slow.

His company got its break when the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003 and CNN paid for the right to us its Keyhole software to help people understand where troops were being deployed, McClendon said.

"There's a thing called a success disaster," McClendon said. "Suddenly everyone wanted to use our software and all started downloading it. We had a tiny server in a basement closet where we were living. It was not ready for that."

They were making weekly trips to a local computer hardware store to upgrade the server to respond to the traffic.

Joining Google

In 2004, McClendon said, Google became interested in the software.

"They offered us three things," McClendon said. "Network band connectivity around the world. They had racks of servers, really big and easy to use. They offered much bigger databases and copies from around the world, so it was a better experience. Finally, they offered us money to buy more satellite images. That was a crucial thing that made the software popular."

"The first thing people did when they installed Google Earth was to zoom in on their house," he said. "When they did that in 2004, it a blur. Four pixels were the house. By 2005 we had a lot more data, a lot more services and a lot more connectivity."

In their first six days after Google Earth went public, the system got 100 million downloads, using half of Google's bandwidth. Since then, they've had more than 2 billion downloads across the world.

"One thing I did I'm a little more well known for, I made the center of Google Earth on that apartment building where I grew up in Kansas. The default view is Meadowbrook Apartments," McClendon said.

When he went to Google, he also hired that friend from KU with the Macintosh -- who secretly changed the center of the map from Lawrence to Chanute when searching the program on a Mac -- prompting that city to put a mural in the street.

McClendon declined to say how much Google paid for the software but said they were "very generous." The company also spent a lot of money, he said, building better maps.

The original maps were built with satellite imagery. Google purchased 10 airplanes equipped with cameras that shoot 28,000 feet above the earth. They also now fly 40 Cessna's armed with five cameras, one of which shoots straight down and others four that photograph at angles. It's those images, collected over major urban areas, used to build 3-D maps.

"We've covered a lot of urban centers of the world in 3D, every serious human population center we're allowed to fly over," he said.

"We don't have North Korea, Russia or China, which were not allowed to fly over, but there's nothing we can do about that. That's all satellite imagery."

The same year they launched Google Earth, they also introduced Google Maps, competing with MapQuest.

The initial problem with the program was that each time someone attempted to zoom in closer on a map layer, it took 20 or 30 seconds to download. They responded to that by loading every picture ahead of time, then developing Javascript to pull the images in much quicker.

More challenges

As the popularity of the program spread, the next issue was its accuracy. That's when Google began using vehicles to drive city streets and take photos every 30 feet. It took eight years to develop maps for 55 countries.

That's also when they learned the computer could correctly recognize only about a third of address numbers.

It was an intern at Google who developed the machine learning project that uses people identifying which images in an array contain a number.

"There were 2 billion pictures and 2 billion answers what it should be," McClendon explained.

An inaccurate Google map in 2010 led to Nicaragua invading Costa Rica.

"A general noted a line was wrong on Google Map, giving a sandbar to the wrong country," he said. "They occupied the land."

The original map information, he said, came from the U.S. State Department, though they didn't tell that to Nicaragua.

The updated the map and after three weeks, the country withdrew its troops.

Today, McClendon is focused on Kansas politics, though he has taken up Pac Man once more. In July, he won a state Pac Man title in Topeka.