Sunday, January 20, 2008

Genesis - The History of Geocaching

Because geocaching is my latest obsession, I talk about it quite often. It's amazing to me that there are so many caches and cachers, yet so few people have heard of it. One question I often get while explaining the game is, "Wow! How did this all get started?" I decided if I'm going to pretend to be some kind of expert on this subject, I need to know the answer to this question. This is the the history of geocaching.

GPS was originally developed by the Department of Defense for military use only. The signal sent by this network of satellites was scrambled by a system called "Selective Availability". Civilians could only get about 100 meters accuracy. That is equivalent to the accuracy my Dad, Tonka_Boy, gets with his ancient GPS receiver. (Just kidding, Dad, your divining rods have found way more caches than I have!)

On May 1, 2000, President Bill Clinton announced that this scrambling would be turned off. The result was up to 10 meters accuracy for civilians. Two days later, On May 3rd, Dave Ulmer made a post on a Usenet Newsgroup sci.geo.satellite-nav. The subject was, "The Great American GPS Stash Hunt. In his post Dave stated that he was thinking of hiding a five gallon bucket with some cool stuff in it. Another post followed stating, "Well, I did it." And just like that, geocaching history had begun.

"Ulmer with the 'origional stash' plaque"

Within days, Dave's stash had been found and more were popping up around the country. On May 30th, Matt Stum came up with the term "Geocache". Geo- for geography and Cache- for hiding something.

On September 2, 2000 Jeremy Irish announced he had registered "" Irish thought of many was to make money off of geocaching and guess what, the controversy begins. Plenty of people got their feelings hurt and some got the mention of their names banned from discussion forums. I doubt the anger is still out there but I guess you could try mentioning "Robin Lovelock or Dave Ulmer" in the Groundspeak Forums and see what the response is.

As of today,, states there are 508,520 active cache listings at their site alone. While is the most popular website, there are more caches listed on other sites as well. Here is a list from

Another great, yet unknown date in geocaching history was November 30, 2007. This was the day I joined In an e-mail response to my MySpace invite, my Dad stated to me and my siblings "MySpace is cool, I'm not cool. Check out my blog here." Just like that I was hooked.

There are plenty of sites out there with a more detailed history of geocaching. I just wanted to put up a few high lites and learn about it myself. For a very detailed report check out Kimbo's blog.

Thanks to,, and for information on this subject.

1 comment:

Norm said...

Wow! I didn't know that I had the power of persuasion. Nice history. Again, congrats on the great blog.

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