So many of us are sure to take pieces of advanced technology found in our vehicles for granted now, due to the fact our cars currently pack in a huge selection of state-of-the-art features. We only need to go back a few decades though to remember a time when cruise control, Bluetooth and sat-nav couldn’t assist us and keep us entertained during road trips. Join used Aston Martin dealership Grange as they trace the early years of each of these pieces of technology…

A history lesson regarding Bluetooth

When you need to make a hands-free phone call when you’re behind the wheel or hoping to play songs through your smartphone so that the music comes through your vehicle’s speakers, your phone’s Bluetooth capabilities will likely be utilised. However, the name Bluetooth was only officially adopted in 1998 and the first handset using the technology was only shipped in 2000 — it would be another year before Bluetooth hands-free car kits started to hit the market too.

We have to go a bit further back in time to realise the very origins of Bluetooth though. It was back in 1993 that Jaap Haartsen was employed as a wireless communications engineer for the Swedish digital communications company Ericsson. While in this job, Haartsen received the task to create a short-range radio connection that could enable new functionalities for mobile phones.

Sven Mattisson, a fellow wireless communications engineer, teamed up with Haartsen in 1995. The duo were soon successful at creating multi-communicator links. Haartsen wasn’t finished yet though, with his work becoming more focused on piconet networks — a single piconet being the linking of two Bluetooth-enabled devices in order to establish an ad-hoc, short-range wireless network.

As 1998 rolled around, Haartsen cut ties with Ericsson in favour of playing a part in founding the Bluetooth Special Interest Group. Over the next two years, he was the chairman of the SIG’s air protocol certifications group and played a part in standardizing the Bluetooth radio communications protocol.

That’s the origins of Bluetooth covered in a nutshell. However, you might still be wondering how it received its unique name. Well, MC Link just didn’t seem to have a ring to it. Therefore, Jim Kardach, the head of technological development at Intel, proposed the moniker that we all know the technology by today in reference to the Danish king, King Harald Blatand. Often referred to as Harald Bluetooth — possibly due to his penchant for snacking on blueberries — the monarch was responsible for uniting the warring factions in what is now known as Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The idea is that Bluetooth technology shares a similar trait in that it unites devices from competing manufacturers, such as a mouse made by Microsoft with a computer developed by Apple.

A history lesson regarding cruise control

There are a couple of aspects regarding how cruise control came about which may shock you. One is the fact the idea was first thought about during the 1940s, while the other is that it was invented by someone who couldn’t actually drive!

We haven’t made a mistake when writing that last fact. Inventor and automotive hall of famer Ralph Teetor was the brains behind a system where the speed of a vehicle is automatically controlled with a flick of a switch or press of a button. However, he had been blind since the age of five after a shop accident.

Sight or no sight, Teetor was able to pick up on the tendency that his lawyer regularly appeared to slow down when talking and then speed up when listening while behind the wheel. Teetor found this inconsistency annoying, to the point that he started to look into whether a device could be developed which could control the speed of a car automatically.

The first patent of Teetor’s technology was filed during 1948. However, it would take a few additional patents for improving the original gadget and close to a decade after the initial patent before cruise control technology was fitted to the 1958 models of the Chrysler Imperial, New Yorker and Windsor. Of course, from that point on the devices began to be used by so many manufacturers on their vehicles.

A history lesson regarding sat-nav

A huge number of drivers will now listen to a formal-sounding android when they have to get from A to B along a route that they aren’t familiar with. However, it was only a couple of decades ago that motorists had to memorize directions before they got behind the wheel, or at least had a collection of fold-out maps in their glovebox to analyse whenever they took a break from driving.

The early days of sat-nav were attached to the US military. This was because it was the US Department of Defense which developed the first satellite-based global positioning technology on behalf of the country’s military forces. Deemed TRANSIT, it was up and running as we entered the 1960s and involved the system using the DopplerEffect to calculate the position of the receiver in relation to satellites. As satellites could follow fixed trajectories at calculable speeds, scientists were able to use this data to pinpoint positions based upon short-term variations in frequency.

As we entered the early part of the 1980s, more refined and precise editions of this satellite-based global positioning technology were introduced. These started to be used by the general military and multiple satellites were utilised too. While GPS devices were also publicly available around this time — systems which use between 24 and 32 medium Earth orbit satellites that follow six trajectories for incredibly accurate results — they weren’t of much use. This is because the military added interference to the signals so that only their own version could be used with any precision.

That was until we rung in a new millennium. President Clinton ended four years of deliberations to sign a bill in 2000 which ordered that the military ceased scrambling satellite signals that were being used by members of the public. The era of consumer-based sat-nav systems had begun.