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This Day in Geek History: The Birth of Geocaching

This day in Geek History saw the first example of a “geocache”, a container hidden at specific coordinates and left for others to find as part of a global game.

On May 2, 2000 the US government shifted the way military GPS satellites sent data to civilian GPS devices. The shift increased the accuracy of the civilian devices by a huge margin allowing for extremely precise coordinate confirmations.

The following day Dave Ulmer, a GPS enthusiast, decided to put it to the test. He set out into the woods in Beavercreek, OR and hid a black bucket with simple instructions inside. Whoever found the bucket was to take one of the items inside–he had stashed movies, books, software, and a sling shot–sign the log book, and replace the removed item with an item of their own. He posted the coordinates on the Usenet newsgroup sci.geo.stellite-nav and the sport of of geocaching was off to a start with a single cache. From there, through web sites and mailing lists, the hobby grew and now there are over 1.3 million active geocaches in over 100 countries on all seven continents.

You can read more about the history of geocaching at the following links:

Geocaching [Wikipedia]
The History of Geocaching [Geocaching.com via Wired]

Jason Fitzpatrick is warranty-voiding DIYer and all around geek. When he's not documenting mods and hacks he's doing his best to make sure a generation of college students graduate knowing they should put their pants on one leg at a time and go on to greatness, just like Bruce Dickinson. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 05/3/11

Comments (8)

  1. Joshua

    Very interesting… Thank you for the write up. :-)

  2. AbbaDabba

    Been geocaching since 2001. The trinkets in the cache are almost worthless. What the real treasure is where this sport takes you. I’ve been to more interesting, beautiful, curious, and inspiring locations and have met wonderful people by doing this. Happy Birthday, geocaching.com! Looking forward to another 20 years of fun adventures.

  3. Teotw

    Only just found out about Geocaching today! Thanks!

  4. Bryan

    been geocaching for about 3 or 4 years now, its great fun, you get to see lots of interesting places that you would normally never see

  5. Cissy

    I agree with AbbaDabba. The trinkets are mostly for kids anyway. It’s where the GPS/Cache brings you. I have seen parks, trails in my own city that I didn’t know existed. I’ve learned to hike for caches, walk for caches and lose weight as well. I am very addicted to this sport.

    You all need to check it out and join.

  6. Xps

    Geocaching – Using billion dollar technology to find Tupperware in the woods. A friend introduced it to me last year and I love it. It’s a great opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and visit places you likely wouldn’t have visited otherwise. I was amazed at how many caches were in my neighborhood.

  7. Hikers2

    Holding our 8th annual Geocaching Event (Meet) next Saturday. Husband and I are in our 80′s and still enjoying our 9th year of caching, though it has slowed down a bit ;) Thanks to Dave Ulmer for the start and thanks to Jeremy, Elias and Bryan for Groundspeak! (kept alive and running by hamsters- :D )

  8. CGCachers

    We’ve been caching for about 3 years now and it never gets boring. As others have said, it’s not about what we find (the cache), but about where it takes us. We’ve seen things in our own community as well as the rest of the country as we travel that we never would have seen otherwise.

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