Story Maps are an amazingly popular addition to the ArcGIS portfolio. Their appeal? They make it easy for anyone to combine interactive maps and multimedia to tell great stories. Story Maps have been rapidly evolving, and continue to evolve quickly. There are many interesting and inspirational examples that you can find at the Story Maps Gallery.
What was the first Story Map, and when was it published? The early concepts date well back in history, and can be credited to Story Maps visionary and current team manager Allen Carroll, who joined Esri in an encore career after completing his first career at the National Geographic Society.
It's a story about Fort Sumter in 1861, detailing its role in the opening salvos of the Civil War, and leveraging the Swipe template to provide a comparison using a historic map from the David Rumsey Collection with present day imagery delivered by the Esri World Imagery basemap. Though simple by today's story map standards, it's still a great example.