Ever wondered what the first sat nav units looked like?
9 November 2007

In Autocar published 28 June 1980, we ran an article on a Blaupunkt navigation system that not only gave you route guidance, but was also the first traffic information system.The German government gave Blaupunkt £3,000,000 to help fund the project, in an attempt to ease traffic on the autobahns.It was known as ALI (Autofahrer Leit und Informations system, or Auto Leading and Information), and it worked through a network of electronic transmitters set out across Germany's roads. This was expensive, but it did work. You inputted an electronic code linked to the area you wanted to go to, and the guidance system took you there as if you'd put a postcode into your modern sat nav system.Traffic flow was judged by set data recorded into the unit, and by other ALI users, who's system reported back to control if there was an unexpected halt in the traffic, thereby re-routing all the other ALI users around it.We reckoned that "to see such a scheme in place is awe-inspiring. And leaves us with no doubt that it will be adopted for the whole of Germany."Wrong again. Fitting the unit to your car cost £100, but having to dig electric cables into every autobahn was a bit of a challenge, so it never went much further.Have a look at the gallery above to find out just how far in-car navigation technology has progressed.

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