NC Literary Hall of Fame



GPS Declassified










GPS Declassified: From Smart Bombs to Smartphones by Richard D. Easton and Eric F. Frazier

Potomac Books (an imprint of University of Nebraska Press)
$34.95, hardcover / $19.22, e-book
ISBN: 978-1-61234-408-9
October, 2013
Available from your local bookstore or

“Written in a clear and lively style GPS Declassified provides readers with GPS development history including personal recollections from leading developers…. As an introduction to GPS, its history, uses, issues and concerns GPS Declassified can’t be beat.”
—Robert Schaefer, NY Journal of Books

“I’ve been fascinated by GPS and it’s tremendous power since it saved my team one night during combat operations in the Middle East. GPS Declassified is a great read for anyone interested in American history. From Eisenhower’s Cold War bunkers to the Apple labs, this insightful and well-written book presents a valuable case study about the effective commercialization of a technology that shapes our modern lives in war and peace.”
—Rye Barcott, author of It Happened on the Way to War

“The authors do the impossible, making an intricate technological advance fascinating to read. They offer an informative and well researched account of how GPS proved its worth even before the system was complete. The results it provided in the Persian Gulf War were truly revolutionary. With this seemingly miraculous kick-off, GPS technology was almost immediately integrated throughout military systems. Entrepreneurs immediately picked up on this, and made it equally successful in commerce.”
—Walter J. Boyne, author of How the Helicopter Changed Modern Warfare and former director of the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution

GPS Declassified examines the development of GPS from its secret, Cold War military roots to its emergence as a worldwide consumer industry. Drawing on previously unexplored documents, the authors examine how military rivalries influenced the creation of GPS and shaped public perceptions about its origin. Since the United States’ first program to launch a satellite in the late 1950s, the nation has pursued dual paths into space—one military and secret, the other scientific and public. Among the many commercial spinoffs this approach has produced, GPS arguably boasts the greatest impact on our daily lives.

Told by the son of a navy insider—whose work helped lay the foundations for the system—and a science and technology journalist, the story chronicles the research and technological advances required for the development of GPS. The authors peek behind the scenes at pivotal events in GPS history. They note how the technology moved from the laboratory to the battlefield to the dashboard and the smartphone, and they raise the specter of how this technology and its surrounding industry affect public policy. Insights into how the system works and how it fits into a long history of advances in navigation tie into discussions of myriad applications for GPS.

Read more and examine primary source documents at:

Richard D. Easton has published articles about the origin of GPS in various space-related publications. He holds an MLA from the University of Chicago. His father, Roger L. Easton, led the Space Applications Branch of the Naval Research Laboratory from the Vanguard satellite era to the early days of GPS development.

Eric F. Frazier is a former newspaper reporter who covered governmental affairs for a general audience. His articles about computer security, nanotechnology, and drug marketing research have appeared in a variety of publications. Frazier holds a BS in geography from Appalachian State University.

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