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June 6, 2011 @ 11:15 am CST

This Is What A GPS Looked Like In 1909

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If you’re under 50 years of age, you’d be forgiven for thinking that interstate highways and city roads that can take you to every nook and cranny of a 50-mile wide city have always existed. However, around the beginning of the 20th century, when mass-production of cars was as relatively new of an idea as smartphones are today, getting around wasn’t remotely the straight-forward affair it is today. Enter the Jones Live-Map.

They weren’t dynamic like looking up directions on Google Maps is today. You could choose from a selection of pre-determined route. The directions came on a disc. The device tied into your car’s odometer so the proto-GPS could measure how long you’d been driving and when to move on to the next step on the directions. It’s unlikely, of course, that rerouting was possible since the device only knew how far you had traveled, not where, nor if you’d made a U-turn.

Given the time and the technology, it’s actually a fairly clever invention! If you lived in a time where your primary method for getting from place to place was to just drive up the local highway and ask whomever you happened to stumble upon which way you should take at the fork, a device like this would be even more stress-relieving than our modern-day GPS devices are.

It’s a healthy reminder, too, about just how far we’ve come. Just a little over a hundred years ago, it must have seemed scary and bewildering to leave your front door and go out on to the road, with little idea of how you would be getting home or even where you’re going. Now, taking a wrong turn and exploring your city is no more of a risk than trying a new dish at your favorite restaurant.

How far we’ve come indeed.

Source : The New Yorker

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