Civilians begin to use satellite navigation.
Manufacturers of GPS receivers for military users—Texas Instruments, Rockwell Collins, Magnavox, and Interstate Electronics—were the first to offer them to civilians, especially scientists and surveyors. Receivers gradually grew smaller, more portable, and more user-friendly. Around the year 2000, demand exploded as new devices and more accurate signals gradually became available.
Scientists were eager to use satellite navigation signals for time and position. GPS receivers gave them access to accurate measurements for research and surveying.
GPS for All
The Magellan Corporation released the first widely available handheld civilian GPS receiver in 1988. In the coming years the U.S. market for GPS devices grew to billions of dollars, and multiple manufacturers produced diverse units to meet the demand.
As technology advanced, GPS receivers became smaller and easier to use and included more features. Most early units provided simple map data, while later devices incorporated information and communication links.