GPS is a service we use all the time on various media applications. The first proper example of working GPS was developed in 1978, but this came about following several rudimentary predecessors. The Soviet Union’s Sputnik programme is one example of these: TRANSIT was the first satellite navigation system, developed by American physicists who discovered that using Sputnik’s radio transmissions, they could pinpoint a satellite location of the orbit. I went to the Cosmonaut exhibition at the Science Museum, and the USSR’s subsequent space mission Vostok provided cosmonauts with a basic computer to allow crew an approximate position of the craft over earth. The computer was partly electric, but partly clockwork as a wholly reliable back-up system. I thought it was interesting that even at a point where space travel was possible, clockwork remained the most reliable source of mechanism in some cases.
GPS works by calculating our location with 24 satellites in an orbit network, created by the US Department of Defence. This is an interesting call back to the seminar last week, considering government, and more specifically military control over the internet. We use GPS to provide our location, and that information is available to the US government.