A Short History of GPS and Car Navigation

It is truly outstanding how far we’ve come with car navigation in the last 40 years. There have been a lot of changes with car navigation and all these are because we want to improve the system. And in this article, we show a short history of GPS and car navigation.

GPS is one of the most valuable things to be born in the contemporary world we have now. It is also put on every mobile phone and it is being a standard apparatus for many cars.

History of car navigation:

1930 Iter Avto – The world’s first automobile navigation system

Iter Avto is the world’s first automobile navigator made in 1930.  The principle is quite simple.  The device came with a set of paper maps. Wrapped from one roll to another across a display.  And a cable connected to the speedometer controlled the scroll rate. The speed with which the display moved was proportional to the speed of the car.  That is why it is always showing the correct point. The big problem was that the moment you drifted from your route, you would have to load a new map and find the exact spot of your current location.

1981 Honda with Electro Gyro-Cator navigation unit

Claimed to be the world’s first automated commercially available automotive navigation system.  It was co-developed by Honda, Alpine. It’s called the  Electro Gyro-Cator navigation unit by Honda.  Introduced in Japan, in 1981. This “inertial navigation system” used a small helium gas gyroscope. And it was more like the systems used by fighter pilots in the Cold War. 

Etak Navigator

Founded in 1983 Etak was the independent US-based vendor of automotive navigation devices. They also sell digital maps and mapping software.  The first move from paper maps to digitally stored on portable media was with an aftermarket system called Etak in 1985.  It read mapping data stored on a cassette drive and each tape would cover a section of a city. 

1987 Toyota CD-ROM navigation system

In 1987, Japan gave the automotive world two less known but important advances in navigation technology. The first with an in-dash CD-ROM mapped dead reckoning navigation system.  And first with color display.

1990 Mazda Eunos Cosmo navigation system

In 1990, Mazda introduced the first-ever GPS system for automotive navigational use. 

GM’s GuideStar

General Motors had worked up a built-in GPS navigation system, ONIS, initially introduced in 1992 on Avis Rent A Car vehicles in Florida. The system was officially added to Oldsmobile’s 88 series as a factory option for the 1995 model-year.

Renamed as  GuideStar. Initially, they only mapped California and Las Vegas. But soon more mapping “cartridges” were available for a wider area.

Alpine CVA-1005

In 1997, the Japanese company Alpine introduced their version of a pop-out CD-ROM (stored map) navigation system. It uses GPS (Global Positioning System) satellites. Each CD disc containing mapping data only covered a few states. However, this system would allow retrofitting and any car buyer could add GPS to his car.


Early Garmin StreetPilot

By 1998, Garmin introduced its first portable StreetPilot GPS navigation system for automotive use.  It had a black and white screen and used cartridges with mapping.

GPPS has come a long way since then. And GPS technology turns into an essential turning point in how people see road trips nowadays.

Bringing you Peace of mind, Security & Freedom – My Buddy Gard

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