This Day in Geek History: The Birth of Geocaching

By Jason Fitzpatrick on May 3rd, 2011


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 a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 05/3/11
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