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1920's GPS Is Way More Intense Than Google Maps

And you thought Waze’s impossible left turns were annoying

Image via Wikipedia

We use modern GPS to the point of being incapable of getting around without it. In fact, there are whole books devoted to helping us wean our eyes off our phones and toward our natural surroundings. However, as modern as apps like Waze and Google Maps may feel, the concept of GPS has been around for nearly a century.


At the height of the roaring ‘20s, drivers in need of directional guidance had the Plus Four Wristlet Route Indicator to help them out, design blog 99% Invisible reports. Designed to be worn like a wristwatch, the device included single-journey scrolls that you could swap out depending on your destination. Decidedly analog, the Wristlet Route Indicator came with 20 different tiny maps to help drivers navigate London and its surrounding areas.

Image via 99% Invisible

According to Gizmodo, the Wristlet Route Indicator cost five British pounds back in 1927, which translates to a modern-day equivalent of fifty British pounds. Not bad for an accessory that looked as cool as it was helpful.

Only, going off course wasn’t as easy then as it is now. Early twentieth century Londoners didn’t have the benefit of all-knowing robot women telling them (somewhat condescendingly) to redirect their course. Rather, they had to stop their fuel-guzzling proto-sedans and roll back the scroll to figure out where they went wrong. On the bright side, the wristlet made folding a thing of the past.

Image via Gajitz

Moral of the story: be grateful for our technologically advanced maps. Still, maybe learn how to bypass the 405 on your own on the off chance our satellites fail and you need to avoid truly apocalyptic traffic.

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