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Bosch Travel Pilot from 1989: Pointing the way - this is how the 1st navigation system works

Arturo Rivas
Bosch Travel Pilot from 1989
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Visually, the first navigation system is reminiscent of Pac-Man

E s takes a while to get used to the green screen display of the Bosch Travel Pilot, but then everything is clear: The tangled lines on the display of the small computer represent the road network, while the small green arrow in the middle reveals the position of the red Golf GTI with which I drive through Abstatt in Swabia. An asterisk at the top of the map shows my destination in Stuttgart, an additional arrow shows the direction as the crow flies, and the number next to it indicates the straight line distance to get there: 34 kilometers.

What makes me look like a Pac-Man- Remembered a game, in 1989 it was absolutely high-tech and at the same time a milestone: The small box with the green cathode ray tube is called Bosch Travel Pilot IDS and is the first self-sufficient navigation device mass-produced for a car.

The Bosch Travel Pilot doesn't have a nice female voice

All right, downhill. According to the Bosch Travel Pilot operating instructions, I somehow have to follow the directional arrow, which stubbornly points to the destination address regardless of my position. What would hardly be a problem at sea or in the air turns out to be a bit more complicated on the road network, as expected: While the green line on the display slowly moves downwards under the position arrow, I am longingly waiting for a friendly female voice that expresses the usual ' Please turn right ā€¯breathes in my ear. Or to a similar note in the form of an additional directional arrow just before the corresponding junction. But of course this service did not exist 25 years ago - I have to find a route to my destination myself using the rough map representation on the display.

After all, the small computer leads me to the motorway, which I am loud on the indicated direction of the straight line then also take course Stuttgart. The first six kilometers are completely unproblematic - despite various roundabouts and a short detour. 'As long as you stay in the right direction at the end, you can't actually get lost,' explains Eckhart Rapp, the owner of the Golf, who bought this car as a new car in 1983 and, as a long-standing Bosch employee, equipped it with various contemporary accessories from the company. and also with this pioneering Bosch Travel Pilot IDS.

Mini-computer with the first CD drive for mobile use

In contrast to later navigation systems, the first Bosch Travel Pilot does not yet enjoy GPS support for his route guidance (first available from 1993). The information comes from a CD on which most of the street names from many German cities, over 40,000 town centers, all motorways and junctions as well as all federal and major country roads were already stored. The disc rotates in a drive - the first of its kind for mobile use, which is located in the trunk.

The Bosch Travel Pilot can find his way around this digitized area thanks to its so-called coupling location: wheel sensors determine the distance covered, while one is on the upper edge of the windscreen attached electronic compass with magnetic probe records the respective changes in direction, but the travel pilot should determine the exact beforehand Know the position of the vehicle - to do this, the position arrow must be moved manually using the arrow keys to the point on the map display that corresponds as precisely as possible to the vehicle's location. If the car was towed or moved by train or ferry, calibration is required again.

Simple menu control, high price

With the Bosch Travel Pilot, the destination address is also entered using the six buttons on the right and left of the display, whereby the menu navigation is surprisingly simple. On top of that, just a few initial letters are enough to get a selection of the possible place or street names - the greatest possible ease of use seems to have been at the top of the specifications.

Two kilometers to the center of Stuttgart - as the crow flies. You have to look very carefully at the small display to get the right motorway exit, but I can get straight to my destination address without any major detours. A luxury that not many could afford in 1989: The Travel Pilot cost 4,500 marks when it was launched - but it has always been a bit more expensive to be a pioneer.


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