The Magellan Systems Corporation Records document various aspects of the development of several different Magellan GPS devices through engineering, research, design, manufacturing, and marketing records. Magellan Systems Corporation introduced the first hand-held differential GPS product and the conpany's focus was on research, product engineering, and design activities for GPS receivers. The collection includes correspondence and internal company reports and memoranda; design drawings; research notes; engineering notebooks, technical notes, schematics; photographs, slides and negatives; video and audiocassettes; advertisements; product literature, magazine articles and newspaper clippings; press releases; and user guides and manuals.
Scope and Contents:
The Magellan Systems Corporation Records document various aspects of the development of Magellan GPS devices, including the engineering, research, design, manufacturing, and marketing of the devices. The collection includes correspondence and internal company reports and memoranda; design drawings; research notes; engineering notebooks, technical notes, schematics; photographs, slides and negatives; video and audiocassettes; advertisements; product literature, magazine articles and newspaper clippings; press releases; and user guides and manuals. In Series 1, Operational Materials, Subseries 3, Weekly Reports, 1988-1996, provides an excellent overview of the issues facing the company and what actions/decisions were made and in Series 3, Engineering and Product Development Materials, Subseries 8, Technical Product Development Seminars provide a good foundation for understanding what the product development staff accomplished.
The core team of players who developed, tested and brought to market the GPS devices included: Janice Jones Blankenhorn, Gary Barta, John Foukos, Randy Hoffman, Norm Hunt, Sab Ifune, Don Rea, Dennis Rich, Ed Tuck, Jon Vavrus, Larry Weill, Val Fife Wong, and James Yuan. The majority of the core team were software and hardware engineers as well as mechanical designers. Their energy, enthusiasm, vision, and unwillingness to fail produced the first handheld commercial GPS receiver in 1989 and Magellgan was the first company to make GPS devices affordable to consumers.
Series 1, Operational Materials, 1988-1993, is divided into four subseries: Subseries 1, Organizational Materials, 1988-1994; Subseries 2, Strategic and Operating Plans, 1989-1995; Subseries 3, Weekly Reports, 1988-1996; and Subseries 4, Company Newsletters, 1991-1992.
Subseries 1, Organizational Materials, 1988-1994, consists of an organizational chart detailing Magellan's corporate structure, a document discussing the communication and functional objectives of the company, and a company Christmas card. The Orbital Sciences Corporation profile was prepared by Alex. Brown and Sons Incorporated and provides an overview of the ORBCOMM system technology, a two-way data-only personal communications service.
Subseries 2, Strategic and Operating Plans, 1989-1995, consists of a variety of strategic and operational plans for the company. The plans are arranged chronologically.
Subseries 3, Weekly Reports, 1988-1996, consists of handwritten and typescript reports primarily from Randy Hoffman, president and CEO of Magellan and Gary Barta, Senior Engineer and Vice President of engineering. The reports document issues that include, personnel issues, product development, technological developments, military orders, investments, marketing and sales, financial issues, orders, resource activities, and future activities. The subseries is arranged chronologically and provides an excellent overview of the issues facing the company and what actions/decisions were made.
Subseries 4, Company Newsletters, 1991-1992, consists of two external company newsletters, The Global Navigator, 1991 and The Magellan Explorer, 1992. The Global Naviagtor was created for the marine market and was sent to all NAV PLUS owners as well as dealers.
Series 2, Correspondence, 1989-1994 and undated, is divided into two subseries: Subseries 1, Customer Correspondence, 1989-1993 and Subseries 2, Business Correspondence, 1989-1994 and undated. The customer-related correspondence consists of letters from users of Magellan GPS units (primarily maritime-related) and their feedback about the product. Some color photographs are included. The business-related correspondence consists of records of conversations, invoices, suggestions for strategic planning, correspondence between Randy Hoffman and the Boundary Found, and the agreement and plan for the merger of Orbital Sciences Corporation and Magellan Corporation in 1994.
Series 3, Engineering and Product Development Materials, 1978-1998, consists of ten subseries: Subseries 1, Product Development, 1989-1994; Subseries 2, Engineering Notebooks, 1987-1996; Subseries 3, Technical Notes, 1978-1994; Subseries 4, Breadboard Design, 1986-1994; Subseries 5, First Generation (NAV 1000/NAV 1200), 1985-1994; Subseries 6, Second Generation, 1988-1996; Subseries 7, Third Generation, 1986-1994; Subseries 8, Swiss Army Chip (SAC) Development, 1987-1995; Subseries 9, Technical Products Development Seminars, 1997-1998; Subseries 10, Specifications, 1992-1994 and Subseries 11, TriQuint Semiconductor Materials, 1986-1992.
Subseries 1, Product Development, 1989-1994, consists of documentation related to product development at Magellan. There are sketches for the third generation of GPS products, descriptive materials for the Meridian Plus and third generation receiver, testing data from the Forest Service using GPS in the wilderness near Missoula, Montana, and position description for the director of product engineering at Magellan outlining the skills and responsibilities.
Subseries 2, Engineering Notebooks, 1987-1996, consists of bound, paginated and handwritten notebooks belonging to two Magellan engineers, Janice Jones Blankenhorn, senior software engineer and Don Rea, director of engineering. Each of Don Rea's notebooks contains a page of handwritten annotations made in 2010 describing the contents. Don Rea's 1987 notebook contains documentation on the original Magellan breadboard, custom digital chip (SAC 1), and the digital board design and test, all of which deal with the first generation of the NAV 1000. Rea's 1986 and 1988 notebook contains information about the first generation of software used, GaAS chips, radio frequency (RF) board, second generation (NAV 5000), design work for Swiss Army Chips (SACs), SAC2 digital chip, SAC2B, and the SAC3 chip. Don Rea's 1993-1995 notebook contains notes on the testing of the SAC5, SAC5M and SAC6 custom digital integrated circuit for the third generation.
Subseries 3 Technical Notes, 1978-1994, consists of handwritten and typescript notes of Gary Barta, Janice Jones Blankenhorn, John Foufos, Janice Intyre, Don Rea, Larry Weill, and James Yuan. Where possible, file level information about what the notes relate to and the Magellan staff member who wrote the notes is listed. Much of the documentation consists of equations, algorithms, sketches, block diagrams, and narrative describing processes and research. The subseries is loosely arranged chronologically.
Subseries 4, Breadboard Design, 1986-1994, consists of memoranda, technical notes, drawings, and sketches detailing the radio frequency breadboard design. Magellan's first-generation breadboard, circa 1987, was developed by the team of Janice Jones Blankenhorn, Val Fife Wong, Ed Tuck, Norm Hunt, Sab Ifune, Gary Barta, Larry Weill, Randy Hoffman, and Don Rea.
Subseries 5, First Generation (NAV 1000/NAV 1200), 1985-1994, consists of technical notes, design notes, memoranda, drawings, and blueprints documenting the development of the first generation (primarily the NAV 1000/NAV 1200), handheld GPS unit produced by Magellan. The first generation of GPS were single channel receivers and were quite simple. The NAV 1000 was 8.75" x 3.5" x 2.25" and weighed only 1.5 pounds. The NAV 1000 converted GPS satellite information into a satellite/navigation (sat/nav) positioning. It used Gallium arsenide (GaAs) a compound of the elements gallium and arsenic, and monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC) technology to reduce its size and power consumption. GaAs is a semiconductor used in the manufacture of devices such as microwave frequency integrated circuits, monolithic microwave integrated circuits, infrared light-emitting diodes, laser diodes, solar cells, and optical windows. The device sold for approximately $3,000 dollars.
Subseries 6, Second Generation, 1988-1996, consists of technical notes, design notes, memorandums, drawings, and blueprints documenting the development of the second generation (primarily the NAV 5000) handheld GPS unit produced by Magellan. The NAV 5000 used five channels working simultaneously to locate and collect data from GPS satellites. The units GaAs circuitry rapidly processed the data received from the satellites to compute current location, altitude, velocity and navigation in under one minute. The NAV 5000 was designed primarily for marine use. Other second generation products included: OEM Brain, OEM 1/2 Brain, Nav 500 Pro, NAV 100M5, Skaynav, Fieldpro, NAV 5200 PM, NAV 5000A, NAV 5000D, DX, DLX, Pro mark V, and the Map 7000.
Subseries 7, Third Generation, 1986-1994, consists of technical notes for the development of the third generation (primarily Meridian and Trailblazer models) of Magellan GPS devices. Third generation models were intended for the lower end of the GPS market and were compact hand-held (size, weight, battery life) and a retail price that was reasonable. Other third generation devices included: the meridian, Trailblazer, AIV10 OEM, Skatblazer, NAV 6500 PM, Meridian/TB/SB XL, NAV 1200 Pm, NAV 1200 XL PM, NAV DLX 10, Promark X, and the Pro Mark X-CM.
Subseries 8, Swiss Army Chip (SAC) Development, 1987-1995, consists of technical notes, diagrams and drawings, and specifications for the development of a digital chip used in Magellan GPS products. Don Rea and Norm Hunt of Magellan are credited with naming the chip. The chip combined several elements--GPS DPS channels, correalators, real time clock, alarm timer, interval timer, keyboard interface, display interface, precise timing, power sequencing, memory decoding, code generators, and beeper driver, to name a few--which allowed the development team reduce the overall power, size, and cost of the chip. Magellan outsourced the manufacture of the SAC.
Subseries 9, Technical Products Development Seminars, 1997-1998, consists of documentation for nine seminars in a series of technology seminars initiated by the product develpment group at Magellan. The seminars were created to keep all staff up to date on past, present, and future technology developments at Magellan. The nine seminars cover the history of Magellan GPS technology and address specific areas of development such as antennas, circuits, signal processing, software, navigation needs, and radio frequency. Other information includes tables providing comparisons for the first, second, and third generations, timelines, SAC chip characteristics, and product shipping dates. The seminars provide a good foundation for understanding what the product development staff accomplished. Researchers should consult Series 8 which documents some of the technical seminars.
Subseries 10, Specifications, 1992-1994, consists of preliminary, functional, and system requirements describing technical characteristics for several Magellan products.
Subseries 11, TriQuint Semiconductor Materials, 1986-1992, consists of materials documenting TriQuint Semiconductor, Inc.'s work. TriQuint was a division of Tektroninix, Inc., a manufacturer of analog and mixed signal gallium arsenide (GaAs) integrated circuit products. TriQuint supplied custom radio frequency (RF) and Gallium arsenide (GaAs) chips for Magellan's hand-held GPS systems and tested its chips. Documentation includes trip summaries and observations to TriQuint by Don Rea, a Magellan engineer as well as technical drawings, memorandums, development schedules, invoices, purchase orders, and tests results, production quantity and costs, and specifications. In 1986, Don Rea met Gary Barta, then principal engineer at TriQuint through his frequent visits to the company. Barta led the engineeering development of the an integrated circuit which combined the GPS L-band low-noise pre-amplifier, UHF local oscillator, down converter and high speed digital divisers on a single gallium-arsenide chip. Nothing like this had been done before for a cost senstive commerical application. Barta later joined Magellan in November 1988 as Vice President of Engineering and made the chip he had designed actually work in the environment of a hand-held product.
Series 4, Marketing and Promotional Materials, 1985-1997, is divided into six subseries: Subseries 1, Market Research, 1985-1993 and undated; Subseries 2, Product Literature, circa 1990s; Subseries 3, Advertisements, 1988-1995 and undated; Subseries 4, Press Releases, 1988-1996; Subseries 5, Presentation Materials, 1990-[1997?] and undated; and Subseries 6, Newspaper and Magazine Clippings, 1988-1996 and undated. The series consists of product literature, advertisements, press releases, presentation materials, and newspaper and magazine clippings about Magellan products as well as competitors.
Subseries 1, Market Research, 1985-1993 and undated, consists of market research data in the form of reports prepared by Merrill Lynch, Simmons Market Research Bureau, J & H Instruments, and others, directed interviews and focus group data. There are directed interviews and discussion documentation from 1986 with Coast Guard Rescue, survival trainers, surveyors, hunters, harbor patrols, expeditionists, and mountaineer trainers providing detailed feedback into experiences with the product. The focus group information consists of transcribed interviews, survey text, selection criteria, participant lists, invoices, and technical drawings and mock-ups for the marine, outdoor and hunting markets.
Subseries 2, Product Literature, circa 1990s, consists of one file folder of product information sheets detailing specifics about Magellan products such as the NAV 1000, NAV 5000DX, NAV 1000 PRO/Geolink, NAV 5200, NAV 1000M, Meridian GPS, ProMARK V, GPS 2000, and the Global Satellite Communicator (GSC) 100.
Subseries 3, Advertisements, 1988-1995 and undated, consists of point of purchase ads, artwork and transfer designs for Magellan products. There are some oversize drawings (copies of blueprints) with the transfer design materials.
Subseries 4, Press Releases, 1988-1996, consists of press releases and one press kit containing biographies of staff members, black-and-white prints of Randy D. Hoffman, President and Chief Executive Officer, prints of the NAV 1000, and press releases introducing the NAV 1000. The marine outdoor press releases also contain 1993 dealer price lists for the Trailblazer, Meridian, NAV 5000DX, NAV 5200DX, and the mimimum advertised price policy for 1993.
Subseries 5, Presentation Materials, 1990-[1997?], consists primarily of staff presentation materials used to promote Magellan products. There is one bound presentation, Magellan Systems Corporation Management Presentation, undated, prepared by Merrill Lynch, that provides documentation about the company (an overview), market segments, competition, sales and marketing, product development, technology, manufacturing, and a financial overview.
Subseries 6, Newspaper and Magazine Clippings, 1988-1996 and undated, consists primarily of magazine articles. The articles appeared in a variety of publications and included Defense Electronics, Southern Boating, Maritime Reporter, Cruising World, Boating the Journal of the Sport, International Defense Review, and Navigation News. The subseries is arranged chronologically.
Series 5, User Guides and Manuals, 1989-2005 and undated, consists of training, reference, and user guides for the consumer who purchased Magellan products. The guides are primarily spiral bound and some are annotated. Multiple copies of some years exist. The series is arranged chronologically.
Series 6, Financial Materials, 1991-1995 and undated, consists of stock information, a Securities and Exchange Commission registration statement, correspondence, registration rights agreements, preferred stock purchase agreements, agreement and plan of merger documents between Magellan Corporation and Orbital Sciences Corporation (November 1994), and two floppy discs (3 1/2" and 5") containing information about the company and its staff.
Series 7, Photographs and Slides, 1987-1995 and undated, consists of slides, negatives, transparencies, and color and black-and-white prints of Magellan products. Many of the images document early product concepts, and there are some promotional and publicity materials. There is one folder of photographs with images of employees from 1989.
Series 8, Audiovisual Materials, 1991-1998 and undated, consists of 1/2" VHS, BETA Cam SP, and 8 mm video cassettes documenting technical seminars presented by Magellan Systems Corporation staff and instances of Magellan products featured in news segments. Researchers consult the technical seminar documentation in Series 3, Engineering and Product Development Materials. The series is arranged chronologically.
Collection arranged into eight series.
Series 1, Operational Materials, 1988-1993
Subseries 1, Organizational Materials, 1988-1994
Subseries 2, Strategic and Operating Plans, 1989-1995
Subseries 3, Weekly Reports, 1988-1996
Subseries 4, Company Newsletters, 1991-1992
Series 2, Correspondence, 1989-1994 and undated
Series 3, Engineering and Product Development Materials, 1978-1998
Subseries 1, Product Development, 1989-1994
Subseries 2, Engineering Notebooks, 1987-1996
Subseries 3, Technical Notes, 1978-1994
Subseries 4, Breadboard Design, 1986-1994
Subseries 5, First Generation (NAV 1000/NAV 1200), 1985-1994
Subseries 6, Second Generation (NAV 5000), 1988-1996
Subseries 7, Third Generation, 1986-1994
Subseries 8, Swiss Army Chip (SAC) Development, 1987-1995
Subseries 9, Technical Product Development Seminars, 1997-1998
Subseries 10, Specifications, 1992-1994
Subseries 11, TriQuint Semiconductor, 1986-1992
Series 4, Marketing and Promotional Materials, 1985-1997
Subseries 1, Market Research, 1985-1993 and undated
Subseries 2, Product Literature, circa 1990s
Subseries 3, Advertisements, 1988-1995 and undated
Subseries 4, Press Releases, 1988-1996
Subseries 5, Presentation Materials, 1990-[1997?]
Subseries 6, Newspaper and Magazine Clippings, 1988-1996 and undated
Series 5, User Guides and Manuals, 1989-2005 and undated
Series 6, Financial Materials, 1991-1995 and undated
Series 7, Photographs and Slides, 1987-1995 and undated
Series 8, Audiovisual Materials, 1991-1998 and undated
Biographical / Historical:
Ed Tuck of the Boundary Fund, a venture capital firm specializing in technologies founded the Magellan Systems Corporation in 1986 and served as its director from 1986 to 1993. Tuck assembled the initial team of Norm Hunt, Larry Weill, Val Wong, and Sab Ifune to conduct a feasibility study in early 1986 to pursue commercial markets for products based on global positioning system (GPS) technology. Magellan introduced the first handheld commercial GPS receiver in 1989 and was the first company to make GPS devices affordable to consumers. Magellan introduced the first handheld commercial GPS receiver in 1989 and was the first company to make GPS devices affordable to consumers. The company successfully introduced GPS products into the marine, professional, military and automotive and general aviation markets.
The Global Positioning System (GPS) began as a United States Department of Defense Program in the 1960s with a navy system known as Transit (first satellite navigation system). Two other projects soon followed, Timation (satellite to broadcast accurate time reference) and Air Force Project 612B, which began in the 1970s. In 1973, the development of the Navigation Signal Timing and Ranging Global Positioning System (NAVSTAR) began under the management of the Air Force. Designed by the military, the system provided twenty-four positioning satellites under all- weather conditions using passive (non-transmitting) receivers. This kept a user's presence from being detected as a result of the receiver. Although primarily for military use, the system also offered a less-precise coded signal for civilian use.
GPS uses a group of twenty-four earth-orbiting satellites which broadcast continuously. The data being broadcast can be processed by a portable receiver to determine a user's position, velocity and time. GPS has three parts: 1) space part with twenty-four satellites; 2) ground part with monitor and 3) user part with receivers that process the signals and calculate position.
In the spring of 1986, the Magellan team published a specification for a custom mixed signal RF (radio frequency) integrated circuit and by fall 1986, had a breadboard (used in prototyping of electronics) and began software development and testing. Magellan focused its research, product engineering, and design activities on the development of GPS receivers that were application-specific, software-intensive, reliable, lower power, easy to use, and affordable.
From 1986 to 1988, the Boundary Fund provided the venture capital for feasibility studies and the initital product design. By 1988, the company occupied its first stand-alone facility in Monrovia, California with thirty-five employees. In May 1989, the company's first product, the NAV 1000, shipped, and in that same year, the company entered the military market with the NAV 1000M. The company entered the professional market in January 1990 with the NAV 1000 PRO, the world's first hand-held GPS product. By 1991, Magellan moved to a new facility in Dimas, California and introduced advanced five-channel technology. It also incorporated in the United Kingdom (UK) as Magellan Systems to handle product distribution in the rest of the UK and Europe.
The SkyNAV 5000 was introduced in 1992 for the general aviation market, and in the same year, hand-held differential GPS technology for the marine market appeared. Magellan was purchased by Orbital Sciences Corporation in 1994. In 2001, Thales Group purchased the Magellan division of Orbital Sciences, and the company became known as Thales Navigation. In 2006, a private equity firm, Shah Capital Partners, and other investors purchased Thales Navigation, and the company was officially renamed Magellan Navigation. Magellan (also known as MiTAC Digital Corporation) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of MiTAC International Corporation and promotes and sells products and services under the Magellan brand name. Magellan is headquartered in Santa Clara, California.
The Division of Work and Industry holds related artifacts (GPS receivers, computer electronics boards, computer chips, antennas, packaging, components, circuit boards, keyboards, a Swiss Army Chip (SAC), and receiver brackets). See Accession numbers 2010.0117; 2010.0118; 2010.0151; 2010.0152; 2010.0153; 2010.0154 and 2010.0155.
Donated to the Archives Center in 2010, by MiTAC Digital Corporation through Michael Williams, Director of Marketing and Gary Barta, Janice Itnyre, Jean Tuck McGregor, Donald Rea, Edward F. Tuck, Lawrence R. Weill, and James P. White.
Collection is open for research but is stored off-site and special arrangements must be made to work with it. Contact the Archives Center for information at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-633-3270.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning intellectual property rights. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.