On May 2, 2000, at approximately midnight, eastern savings time, the great blue switch* controlling selective availability was pressed. Twenty-four satellites around the globe processed their new orders, and instantly the accuracy of GPS technology improved tenfold. Tens of thousands of GPS receivers around the world had an instant upgrade. The announcement a day before came as a welcome surprise to everyone who worked with GPS technology. The government had planned to remove selective availability - but had until 2006 to do so. Now, said the White House, anyone could "precisely pinpoint their location or the location of items (such as game) left behind for later recovery." How right they were.
For GPS enthusiasts, this was definitely a cause for celebration. Internet newsgroups suddenly teemed with ideas about how the technology could be used.
On May 3, one such enthusiast, Dave Ulmer, a computer consultant, wanted to test the accuracy by hiding a navigational target in the woods. He called the idea the "Great American GPS Stash Hunt" and posted it in an internet GPS users' group. The idea was simple: Hide a container out in the woods and note the coordinates with a GPS unit.
The finder would then have to locate the container with only the use of his or her GPS receiver. The rules for the finder were simple: "Take some stuff, leave some stuff."
On May 3rd he placed his own container, a black bucket, in the woods near Beavercreek, Oregon, near Portland. Along with a logbook and pencil, he left various prize items including videos, books, software, and a slingshot. He shared the waypoint of his "stash" with the online community on sci.geo.satellite-nav: N 45° 17.460 W 122° 24.800
Within three days, two different readers read about his stash on the Internet, used their own GPS receivers to find the container, and shared their experiences online. Throughout the next week, others excited by the prospect of hiding and finding stashes began hiding their own containers and posting coordinates. Like many new and innovative ideas on the Internet, the concept spread quickly - but this one required leaving your computer to participate.
Within the first month, Mike Teague, the first person to find Ulmer's stash, began gathering the online posts of coordinates around the world and documenting them on his personal home page. The "GPS Stash Hunt" mailing list was created to discuss the emerging activity. Names were even tossed about to replace the name "stash" due to the negative connotations of that name. One such name was "geocaching."
Geocaching, first coined by Matt Stum on the "GPS Stash Hunt" mailing list on May 30, 2000, was the joining of two familiar words. The prefix geo, for Earth, was used to describe the global nature of the activity, but also for its use in familiar topics in gps such as geography.
Caching, from the word cache, has two different meanings, which makes it very appropriate for the activity. A french word invented in 1797, the original definition referred to a hiding place someone would use to temporarily store items. The word cache stirs up visions of pioneers, gold miners, and even pirates. Today the word is still even used in the news to describe hidden weapons locations. The second use of cache has more recently been used in technology. Memory cache is computer storage that is used to quickly retrieve frequently used information. Your web browser, for example, stores images on disk so you don't have to retrieve the same image every time you visit similar pages.
The combination of Earth, hiding, and technology made geocaching an excellent term for the activity. However the "GPS Stash Hunt" was the original and most widely used term until Mike Teague passed the torch to Jeremy Irish in September 2000.
On 12 May the first stash out side the US was hidden near Rotorua, GC45 First New Zealand. Two more North Island caches followed and then on 5 June the first South Island one was hidden GC4A Geocache, near Dunsandel by Bob C who appears to be a Lackey from the US also known as iryshe or Jeremy.
Thousands of events are being held around the world this year to celebrate 20 years of caching so why not have one to celebrate the first cache on the Mainland. Unfortunately Dunsandel is too far away for me to host an event there so instead it's at
Smugglers Pub & Café
8 Muritai Street
Please let me know if you are staying for a meal so that I can confirm numbers
Don't forget New Zealand's big event this year is is NZ Mega 2020 GC87777 over Labour Weekend in Auckland, an event not to be missed. Make sure you log your attendance and register on the website here
Community Celebration Events - 2020
This Event is part of a limited release of Community Celebration Events to celebrate 20 years of geocaching. Geocachers hosted events between May 2, 2020 and December 31, 2020. Learn more about Community Celebration Events on the Geocaching Blog.