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    Twenty years of "Longitude" and twenty years of GPS
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2015 Mar 9, 17:56 -0700

    The year 2015 marks two important twenty-year anniversaries. In 1995 Dava Sobel's little book "Longitude" was published kindling a new interest in the history of celestial navigation among navigators, ordinary boaters, and a broad segment of the public fascinated by science. The book was a blockbuster hit. Also in 1995, the GPS satellite navigation system was declared fully operational after the final satellites in the principal constellation had been tested and confirmed operational. The "FOC" (full operational capability) announcement was made on April 27, 1995. The system had already achieved basic functionality, announced as "initial operational capability," less than a year and a half earlier. The practice of navigation, of course, was radically revolutionized by GPS. It is remarkable that even this week in 2015, the legacy of Sobel's "Longitude" and the revolution of GPS are still at the center of many of our discussions about the history, practice, and future of celestial navigation and other methods of traditional position-finding. It's hard to believe it's been twenty years... a generation since "Longitude"... a generation since GPS.

    On a lesser, local note, 1995 is also very close to the beginning of the early online community that has continued to this day as NavList. The earliest messages in our archives are from 1996 (thanks to Dan Allen and a few other sources who kept copies of early messages) and the earliest of them all in our archives, a post on lunars, was actually posted to an 'email list' ancestor of NavList in December of 1995. You can read those very early messages, and find out which topics still interest this community even after a generation, by scrolling to the bottom of the group archives on the NavList main web site here. Some questions from back then are still being kicked around today.

    Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose... *

    Frank Reed
    Conanicut Island USA

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