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.


  1. Isn’t it crazy to think that the military has so much influence on the advancement of the internet? Without thewars of the 20th Century, there is a slight chance that the internet would not be as accessible as it is for us today. If we think back to the early days of the internet, only government officials along with other important figures, were able to use the ‘web’. It’s only as we move into the 21st century, that the internet opens up to the public and now we can use it virtually free of charge. The internet, over the course of 30 years has gone from completely privatised to all-access. That is an awfully short time for such a massive technological advancement! GPS makes life hassle-free a lot of the times. Imagine hiring a car for your holiday abroad and trying to navigate yourself around without a SatNav? We often think, ‘thank gosh for the internet’ but never really consider how it evolved or who invented it. Having said this – the more we use GPS and other location-sourcing devices, the more we are at risk of an invasion of privacy…


  2. I find it interesting but quite creepy how people can be located through GPS, I always have my location switched off on my phone even though I know someone could track me if they really wanted to. I remember when people started going crazy last year because they only just realised how much information certain apps can access on devices like location ect…It is a interesting subject to talk about because basically everyone has an opinion about it.


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