“Air Force never really wanted GPS” – New Book on GPS History and Current Issues

May 10, 2016

“Pinpoint: How GPS Is Changing Technology, Culture and Our Minds” (Norton, 2016), by journalist Greg Milner, is a fascinating look at the history of GPS, the way it has transformed society through a myriad of unintended uses.

Some interesting sound bites to whet your appetite:

  • Brad Parkinson’s mission statement when developing GPS:
    • Drop 5 bombs in the same hole
    • and build a cheap set that navigates
    • and don’t forget it
  • The Air Force never really wanted GPS…”You don’t know how many times I heard, ‘What does it do?’…’It tells you where you are.’ ‘I know where I am.’ ‘We don’t need another navigation system.'”
  • There is something appealing about effortless surveilling, and GPS scratches that itch. It’s nice to save hundreds of thousands of dollars and conserve gas, but…GPS provides the possibility of omniscience, unlike any previous technology.