Image: Rockwell-Collins/Smithsonian

What’s New: The December issue of GPS World is chock full of articles about the history of GPS, mostly told by folks who were there.

Why It’s Important: There are A LOT of lessons to be learned and relearned. Things like:

  • There was severe opposition to GPS from the military services. It almost didn’t happen. People and organizations resist change and can oppose the best ideas and programs.
  • If you provide a good service and make it easy to adopt, people will use it.
  • Vision, leadership, and persistence are essential to make good things happen.

What Else to Know:

  • It is also important to write these things down because the folks that can tell the stories first hand won’t be with us forever. RNTF’s co-founder and chairman of our board, the Hon. Martin Faga, passed away before his article was published.
  • These articles are part of GPS World’s recognition of the 50th anniversary of GPS being approved for production. Thanks and well done to Editor-in-Chief Matteo Luccio!
  • Look for more in the January edition of GPS World!



1976: The first military GPS five-channel receiver built in one of several programs that studied the feasibility of GPS. The receiver weighed more than 270 pounds and had seats for two operators. (Image: Rockwell Collins/Smithsonian)

The early days of GPS: How it was adopted by the US military and surveyors

In the following articles, GPS World is lucky to benefit from the long memories of four gentlemen who were there to witness the birth of the GPS program.

December 4, 2023  – By 

“Lost in the desert, they demanded GPS” by Gaylord GreenEarly GPS Manipack worn by JPO Army deputy Lt. Col. Paul Weber. This photo graced the cover of the first ever GPS brochure. (Image: GPS World archives)

“From ‘We don’t need it’ to ‘We can’t live without it’” by Martin Faga

“They used GPS even before it was fully built” by Dave Zilkoski

“GPS: The birth of the commercial GPS industry and how it changed the world” by Charles R. Trimble