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Iter Avto: The World's First GPS-Like Navigation System

The GPS Navigation system is one of the most useful things to ever be born out of modern technology. However, if you think it's a fairly recent invention, let the world's first GPS navigation show you the analog origins of this convenient device.

Meet the Iter Avto, the world’s first in-car navigation system, the ancestor of the handy-dandy, modern-day GPS Navigation System. Designed and created in the 1930s, it’s more like a “map guidance tool” since it didn’t really give voice prompts and directions (and didn’t use satellites, needless to say).

Looks a bit like a child’s toy, I hear you say, but how did it work? Quite simple, actually. Scroll maps are attached to a cable, and functions like the modern mechanical speedometer. How fast the map rolls as projected on the screen depends on the vehicle’s speed. The only problem was, if you needed to make a turn to a new street, you’d have to find the map for that street and swap that in a jiffy.

Still, it’s a fairly good start for one of today’s most useful devices, right?

Sources and additional readings:
Iter Avto: The World’s First Automobile Navigation System (1930) on Dieselpunks
Antique GPS Navigation (1932) on GIS Blog
SatNav c.1930 on How to be a Retronaut

If that has gotten you really curious about the GPS part, you might want to read The History of GPS!

What do you think of the Iter Avto? Let us know with a comment below!

written by plasticpopsicle

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