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Gary Burrell and Min H Kao founded Garmin in 1989. The name Garmin is a combination of their two first names. Previously, Burell and Kao met at university in Tennessee, before both going on to work as electrical engineers for the aircraft radio manufacturer King Radio.

The potential of GPS

Burrell and Kao worked together at King Radio developing military navigation systems using GPS. But just a few months before the launch of a new GPS system, they left Radio King to focus on devleloping GPS systems for the consumer market.

GPS for sailors and pilots

The first product under the Garmin brand was launched in 1991 - the 100AVD GPS navigation module, which was designed for sailors and pilots of small aircraft. It was about the size of a regular book and cost about 1000 dollars. Soon after the 100AVD, they launched the GPS 95 navigation system for pilots, which featured a display showing the position of nearby aircraft, radio beacons and airports, as well as important in-flight data.

The first GPS for cars

GPS for cars became Garmin's main focus until the end of the last century. In 1997 they released GPS III, which was intended for the US market and contained map data with the most important routes in America.

Garmin goes from strength to strength

In 2000 the US Defense Department turned off the GPS security system that deliberately distorted position information. As a result, GPS navigation was able to determine the correct position to within ten metres, which was the perfect opportunity for Garmin. The company soon started public trading on the stock market, with share value rising by 42% on the first day of trading! The company's revenue grew by 50% to 345.7 million USD. Garmin re-invested the money in research and development and launched a total of 20 new products in 2001.

A wide range of GPS systems 

Today, Garmin's headquaters are based in Kansas, USA, and their biggest factory is in Taiwan. The company is involved in almost all types of navigation systems, including handheld GPS systems (designed for tourists and fans of geocaching), car GPS systems, marine GPS systems, aircraft GPS, and even special GPS systems for golfers.

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