In this article, we’ve brought together some GPS history and facts. If you’re new to the world of GPS then this trivia and background information to give you a quick overview of the history of GPS devices.
GPS means “Global Positioning System”. Portable GPS devices work by communicating with GPS satellites rotating the earth. There is also GLONASS system that works in a similar way and some recent devices are equipped to use this alongside GPS for improved accuracy.
Handheld GPS devices enable people to navigate the streets of unfamiliar places, providing them with safer and more effective navigation than with paper maps alone. GPS has a use in many aspects of life. The military were the first to use GPS, and their usage passed along to the navy and boating industry as an effective means of navigating on the water.
Some GPS devices
Emergency services use GPS to locate lost hikers and missing persons. A civilian can use a handheld GPS device when they’re out in the wilderness, or when driving. If there is a place that a human needs to be, chances are that they can find their way with a handheld GPS device.
GPS systems were originally created by the US Department of Defense in 1973, to find a better way to navigate. They utilised navigation ideas from the 1960s. The first GPS system launched twenty-four satellites, and the GPS system became operational in 1995. They were originally used by only the military, but Ronald Reagan saw the benefit to the average population, and allowed developers to make them for everyone.
In 1998, Al Core and the White House encouraged the next generation of GPS technology. It took another two years to implement these changes in 2000. Roger Lee Easton is the primary inventor credited with inventing the GPS, but GPS is still owned and operated by the US government. Other countries have their own versions of the GPS system, but users have to ensure they buy the unit that works in their own country.
In the 20th century, the first handheld GPS devices were often separate units, and used by campers, hikers, boaters, and other sportsmen. They began to be sold around the late 1990s. Around 2000, you could also buy a separate GPS for your vehicle. These GPS devices tended to be on the pricey side, and it wasn’t until the advent of smart phone apps that GPS was brought to the masses.
With the advent of smart phones in 2008, you could download a GPS app to help you navigate around a location. The smart phone user was able to enter a “to” and “from” location into their GPS app, which would lead them from where they were, to where they wanted to be. The GPS app was integrated with Google Maps but there are now other map apps available in competition. The new smart wrist watches, such as the Apple Watch, that came out in 2014, also have a built-in GPS function.
In 2015, the GPS had an upgrade to FAA level GPS. These GPS receivers can give a horizontal accuracy of less than 3.5 meters. The quality of the receiver, and the atmospheric changes may affect the data however. Civilian GPS devices are not allowed to have the accuracy that the military uses.
There are at least 17 new satellite launches expected leading up to 2017. Handheld GPS devices are here to stay. They’re becoming smaller, and more affordable, particularly with their integration into other smart devices that have greater functionality.
Thanks for reading, and we hope you found this brief collection of GPS history and facts useful.