There are a lot of different technologies that we should all be thankful for. Lithium ion batteries, Cellular Phones, Wireless internet, DVR, the list goes on and on. But for me, the one technology that I am the most thankful for cost twelve billion dollars to invent and involves eighteen satellites, six in each of the three orbital planes spaced 120º apart. This is all for Global Positioning Satellites or GPS. Without GPS most of us would be lost, literally. One of my first jobs was as a pizza delivery person. I cannot even count the amount of times I got lost because I did not have a GPS or more importantly they were not quite invented yet.
The GPS project was developed in 1973 to overcome the limitations of previous navigation systems. GPS as we know it today was originally created for the US Department of Defense and included only 24 satellites. It took over two decades for it to finally become fully operational in 1994. The original system was accurate to within several yards and the GPS units were quite large. In the past few years, GPS has come a long way. Modern GPS units can fit inside a match box and are accurate within just centimeters.
Nowadays, just about everyone uses GPS. It is in most of our cars, boats and planes use it as their sole form of navigation, and all of our cellphones have it (even non-smart phones for 911 location services). I don’t know how I or the rest of the world got along without it. This is why I am thankful for GPS.