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Steampunk SatNav?

In three more cranks of the wheel we should be in Brighton...

When in London next week I will certainly be headed to the British Library at some point to see the small exhibit on weird and wonderful gadgets collected by Maurice Collins.

Of particular interest here is this wrist-watch style navigation system, called the Plus Fours Routefinder, on which the driver would wind the little scrolled paper maps along as he drove (not sure what to do if the main route was congested). The Routefinder, which covered a variety of routes, featured updated distances as well as a “Stop” instruction — but hopefully you would realize you were in, say, London before the little device said so. Not sure if listed petrol stations and the like.

(via Company Car Driver)

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 20th, 2008 at 12:02 pm and is filed under Traffic Wonkery. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “Steampunk SatNav?”

  1. Jonathan Dower Says:

    Well, the Plus Fours Routefinder (1920) is a draw, although you would be crazy to miss the Automatic Nose Hair (1920), also on display. But the Plus Fours was pre-dated by several other efforts to keep motorists on the straight-and-narrow while navigating a landscape with precious little traffic order and no street signs

    The Photo-Auto Guide was a series of photographs taken by young Andrew McNally II, scion of Rand McNally’s cofounder, using a camera strapped to his car during his 1907 honeymoon drive from Chicago to Milwaukee. The photographs were published as a book with arrows on each page indicating where to turn.

    The Jones Live-Map was a dial connected to the odometer on which you could place a disk representing a particular trip, say New York to Waterbury because, I suppose, people wanted to go there then. The disk would turn as the miles passed bringing preprinted locations and instructions for that mileage into view.

    Needless to say, production was labor intensive and the choice of destinations for both products was limited. Real road maps, followed by MapQuest and GPS, have taken most of the guesswork and, consequently, the fun out of finding your way out to Aunt Selma’s. Except here in Boston where the streets, the signage, and the other motorists seem dedicated to making keeping you challenged …as well as lost.

    Images of the Photo-Auto Guide and Jones Live-Map can be found here: http://www.drivinglikeass.com/journal/2007/10/3/getting-lost-why-maps-gps-your-brother-in-law-are-no-help.html

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