Inventor Spotlight: Ivan Getting

This month, C4IP is celebrating Ivan Getting, who made possible the invention of the Global Positioning System (GPS) and transformed the way that people around the world travel and do business.

  • Getting was born in 1912 in New York City and studied at MIT and Oxford before the onset of World War II pushed him into a career in defense technology, first with the Air Force and then at the Raytheon Corporation and the Aerospace Corporation.
  • He conceived of using satellites to precisely track moving objects such as airplanes and missiles and patented the first technology for this purpose in 1955.
  • As of 2019, the invention of GPS was estimated to have directly created almost $1.4 trillion in economic value in the United States alone.
    • The market for GPS technologies, which have become integral features of smartphones and cars, was estimated at nearly $95 billion in 2022.
    • GPS is also fundamental to other large and growing industries, such as e-commerce (estimated at $5.8 trillion in 2023), food delivery ($923 billion), and ridesharing ($154 billion).
  • Getting’s innovation has reshaped modern life: As many as 93% of American drivers are now dependent on GPS, according to a survey of the 20 most car-dependent cities.
    • More than six in 10 Americans use their GPS at least once a week, per the same survey.
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