A Brief History Of The Car GPS

As soon as cars were invented, drivers got lost. Since most of those early drivers were men, they refused to stop and ask for directions. It soon came apparent that a navigation of some sort was needed for a car driver, preferably one inside the car so you would never have to stop and ask for directions. The first car GPS units were anyone unlucky enough to sit in the passenger seat. That seat instantly transformed anyone into the designated navigator.

Now We Get More Technical

Having a terrified passenger trying to read a map in a moving car was neither good for those prone to motion sickness nor good for reliably getting to where you wanted to go. And if you were driving alone, you risked an accident trying to read a map and drive simultaneously. If we only knew what it would be called, we would have demanded car GPS units.

In 1960, the military came up with another great idea in the quest to never have to stop and ask for directions (and, if you are leading an invasion force, asking the locals for directions might be awkward). They used a satellite based system called Transit to help them find their way. Although not called a car GPS, it certainly could qualify as the first car GPS system…even f it was really used for boats, planes and tanks instead of cars. But then again, that information is classified.

Moving To The Dashboard

Although Transit officially died in 1996, the UD Air Force still uses a system called the NAVSTAR GPS that basically works just like the car GPS on your dashboard. Russia has one up there, too, called GLONASS and the European Union also has a GPS satellite in orbit. If it weren't for satellites, then there would be no way a humble car GPS could work.

You are expected to still use your common sense when getting driving instructions from a car GPS system. On January 4, 2008, a man's rented Ford Focus car GPS told him to take a particular turn, which he did - onto railroad tracks. The thing is he drove for a couple of miles before realizing that you are not supposed to drive on train tracks. Inevitably, a train appeared and had the right of way. The man survived, but the Ford Focus and the car GPS did not. The unidentified man has tried to sue the makers of that GPS unit, but legal experts say the case will go nowhere.