The Global Positioning System turns 2o years old today. On July 17, 1995 GPS was declared fully operational, marking its official start as a positioning utility, provided free of charge by the US Government. Fourteen days later, on August 1, 1995, I started work at Trimble Navigation, running marketing for the OEM Division, my first day in my first job in the location business.
The “birthday” of GPS is somewhat misleading. GPS satellites had been deployed since 1978, but the constellation had not been fully populated or fully operational. By 1995, there was already a growing industry in surveying, marine and military. Trimble was a public company, having IPOed largely on the strength of military demand from the first Gulf war. The OEM division at Trimble was pioneering a relatively new concept: that there would be a business selling embedded GPS receivers into all manner of devices on an OEM basis.