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GPS Declassified: From Smart Bombs to Smartphones [Hardcover]

Richard D. Easton , Eric F. Frazier
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 2013 1612344089 978-1612344089 First Edition
GPS Declassified examines the development of GPS from its secret, Cold War military roots to its emergence as a worldwide consumer industry. Drawing on previously unexplored documents, the authors examine how military rivalries influenced the creation of GPS and shaped public perceptions about its origin. Since the United States’ first program to launch a satellite in the late 1950s, the nation has pursued dual paths into space—one military and secret, the other scientific and public. Among the many commercial spinoffs this approach has produced, GPS arguably boasts the greatest impact on our daily lives.

Told by the son of a navy insider—whose work helped lay the foundations for the system—and a science and technology journalist, the story chronicles the research and technological advances required for the development of GPS. The authors peek behind the scenes at pivotal events in GPS history. They note how the technology moved from the laboratory to the battlefield to the dashboard and the smartphone, and they raise the specter of how this technology and its surrounding industry affect public policy. Insights into how the system works and how it fits into a long history of advances in navigation tie into discussions of the myriad applications for GPS.

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Editorial Reviews


"A fine and entertaining story of the origins of the Global Positioning System, a consequential space-age technology that has affected the lives of hundreds of millions in war and peace. Non-specialist readers will easily understand principles of this sophisticated system and appreciate difficulties of GPS development by visionary individuals."—Mike Gruntman, professor of astronautics at the University of Southern California at Los Angeles and author of Blazing the Trail: The Early History of Spacecraft and Rocketry

"The authors do the impossible, making an intricate technological advance fascinating to read. They offer an informative and well-researched account of how GPS proved its worth even before the system was complete. The results it provided in the Persian Gulf War were truly revolutionary. With this seemingly miraculous kick-off, GPS technology was almost immediately integrated throughout military systems. Entrepreneurs immediately picked up on this and made it equally successful in commerce."—Walter J. Boyne, author of How the Helicopter Changed Modern Warfare and former director of the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution

"GPS Declassified is a carefully researched, well written, fast-paced, and thoroughly enjoyable book."—William F. Mellberg, Space Review

"As an introduction to GPS, its history, uses, issues and concerns GPS Declassified can’t be beat."—Robert Schaefer, New York Journal of Books

About the Author

Richard D. Easton has published articles about the origin of GPS in various space-related publications. He holds an MLA from the University of Chicago. His father, Roger L. Easton, led the Space Applications Branch of the Naval Research Laboratory from the Vanguard satellite era to the early days of GPS development.

Eric F. Frazier is a former newspaper reporter who covered governmental affairs for a general audience. His articles about computer security, nanotechnology, and drug marketing research have appeared in a variety of publications. Frazier holds a BS in geography from Appalachian State University.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Potomac Books Inc.; First Edition edition (October 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1612344089
  • ISBN-13: 978-1612344089
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #267,857 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent in-depth history of GPS March 3, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Mr Easton and Mr Frazier did a thorough job of researching and documenting the history of GPS and do a good job explaining the who, what, how and why while keeping it interesting.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Technological Transformation October 27, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Where were you in 1958? I was in grade school in a small town in southern Wisconsin but elsewhere things were popping in the world of space science. Russia had sent Sputnik into orbit the previous October and scientists in the United States, in secret in the Armed Services, were working on a response. Part of that response led to the development of what was to become known simply as "GPS" in the vernacular of practically everyone on the planet. I know that this avid reader of science fiction, who thought his new transistor radio was really neat in 1958, did not imagine that cars and phones and everyday life of his adult future would be shaped in part by this ubiquitous invention.
In GPS Declassified Richard D. Easton and Eric F. Frazier tell the story of how this happened in an fascinating and readable way. The technological difficulties, bureaucratic roadblocks, and breathtaking breakthroughs are shared through several narratives that lead to the future we live in today. These narratives include background of both a brief history of navigation and the development of satellites; but also delve into the how and why of GPS leading the reader from the military beginnings to the civilian uses that have since proliferated. There is the exciting success story of GPS use in the Persian Gulf War and the birth of a new industry providing GPS for the millions of consumers that use it today. A concluding section looks forward to the future of GPS. History of Science is seldom told better than this story of the development of a technology that has in no small way transformed our world.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read December 26, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've been fascinated by GPS and it's tremendous power since it saved my team one night during combat operations in the Middle East. GPS Declassified is a great read for anyone interested in American history. From Eisenhower's Cold War bunkers to the Apple labs, this insightful and well-written book presents a valuable case study about the effective commercialization of a technology that shapes our modern lives in war and peace.

- Rye Barcott, author, It Happened On the Way to War
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book May 6, 2014
This book gives a detailed, step by step, process how America developed the theory and implementation of GPS, the GPS satellite system and receivers. Before you read this book, GPS seems like magic. After reading the book I still don't understand all the technical stuff but I understand the idea of GPS better.
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