News Item

'Father of GPS' dies at 93

Roger Easton Sr - known as the 'father of GPS' died on 8 May at his New Hampshire home.

Roger Easton Sr - known as the 'father of GPS' died on 8 May at his New Hampshire home.After graduation from the University of Michigan, he began work as a physicist in 1943 in the US Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC - where he spent the rest of his 37-year career.

In 1955, he was in the team writing the proposal for the Vanguard Project - a satellite programme for the International Geophysical Year - and was also part of the team designing the satellite itself. He went on to design Minitrack - a system which tracked Earth-orbiting objects.

But he ran into a problem - timing of the tracking stations wasn’t synchronised, leading to problems with the the tracking itself. So Easton had the idea of putting highly accurate clocks in satellites, which would then be able to accurately determine the precise location of someone on the ground.

Initially, he called the system Timation - short for 'Time-Navigation'. Eventually, the DoD adopted a number of features from this time-based navigation system and re-named it 'Global Positioning System' in the early 1970s.

Roger Easton held 11 US patents, was inducted into the American Philosophical Society, won the National Medal of Technology in 2004 and was inducted into the National Inventors' Hall of Fame in 2010.

He retired from the Naval Research Labratory, where he had risen to Head of the Space Applications Branch, in 1980, but continued improving GPS technology.

Roger Lee Easton, 30 April 1921 - 8 May 2014
Details from Tech Crunch below . .

  • 31 May 2014
  • RIN

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