His engineers developed a proprietary way of speeding up the process by crafting software tools that corrected for distortions in scans of aerial photography, another key innovation. Then it could display the result on an electronic screen. Photo courtesy of Walt Zavoli Each tape could hold 3. With money in hand and encouragement from Bushnell and fellow Atari alumnus and Pong designer Alan Alcorn—a regular at Catalyst—Honey began to build a business. The computer, codesigned by SRI colleague Ken Milnes, aided the process of collecting data from sensors on the ship and making course calculations. They chose a vector unit because a high-enough resolution bitmapped display would have been prohibitively expensive in Otherwise, it might look like you were driving a few yards beside the street. It could provide optimal routes to commercial places as well, and that interested Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch. The device would tell the driver where he or she was at all times via a CRT display on the dashboard, and it would also plot the location of a selected destination and keep track of the directions to that destination until the driver got there.
Walter Zavoli can be seen in center foreground. After nine days without much sleep, Bushnell collapsed in his room and slept for 15 hours straight. While using the Navigator, the system continuously ironed out accumulated errors over time by comparing actual distances driven and turns made with road shapes on the map. They called the product the Etak Navigator, and began to show it to the press in late The vector display was crisp and legible. Yet as Honey recovered from the voyage, he began to turn over ideas for a never-before-produced car navigation system in his head. Naturally, they started with data for the San Francisco Bay Area. And it worked like magic. To build it, Etak had to devise technologies and collect data that are still in use today by some of the most familiar navigation apps and devices on the planet. For that, the team relied on mostly off-the-shelf components. But as sales waned, Etak successfully pivoted away from hardware in the late s. His engineers developed a proprietary way of speeding up the process by crafting software tools that corrected for distortions in scans of aerial photography, another key innovation. Beyond compasses, computers, and displays, there were deep mathematical problems to be solved regarding data, algorithms, and maps. The storage medium had to be resistant to shock and vibrations, and able to withstand the heat of a closed car on a hot day. By Benj Edwards long Read Thirty years ago, a company called Etak released the first commercially available computerized navigation system for automobiles. Pizza Time hung on, and, after a merger with a competitor, is still with us today as Chuck E. And that was how it started. And so during that watch, Bushnell and Honey began brainstorming about a computer-based navigation system for use on land. Local car stereo and cellular telephone dealers installed and calibrated the system, a process that took a couple of hours. Photo courtesy of Walt Zavoli Each tape could hold 3. So they tested various materials for cassette shells to see what could tolerate the heat. Honey staffed it with extremely competent and technically skilled people; Bushnell provided financial resources, then mostly stepped back rather than being involved in day-to-day management. The Navigator left and right , and the cassette-based map-data system Since aid from satellites was out of the question, the computer would have to rely on sensors to keep track of the world around it. Stan Honey shows off his creation in a photo. It could provide optimal routes to commercial places as well, and that interested Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch.
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