History of APRS and References

This file consists of a brief history of the development of APRS and then a bibleography of most of the articles that have been written about APRS.

The History of APRS

The Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS) software has evolved over the last 18 years of my involvement in amateur packet radio. In 1976 I had built the first digital RTTY on the air automatic message system which evolved into a dual port phone and packet radio BBS for the AMRAD group when ASCII first became legal in the late 70s [1]. In 1978 we began experimenting with the original VADCG packet boards from Canada. For years I was on the AMRAD board of directors, the Amateur Radio Reasearch and Development group that was instrumental in the original specification for AX.25 written by Terry Fox, WB4JFI and published by AMRAD in 1984. Isolated overseas in Japan in 1982, I wrote my first data maping program, which took NAVY HF position reports off the air and displayed them on an APPLE-II. From the beginning, I was always making packet maps of the growing packet network [3,5,6]. In 1983, I wrote a gateway/BBS program on my VIC-20 computer to permit simultaneous operation of both HF and VHF ports for exchange of packet messages and pioneered the use of 200 Hz shift for packet on HF with cross-county links to W0RPK, W9TD, and K7PYK [2]. We used 10.149 MHz. To my knowledge, this was the first amateur HF BBS/GATEWAY; and it remained on the air 'round the clock for 5 years through 1989 under the FCC STA for automatic packet HF operations.

My APRS connectionless protocol idea was first used in a VIC-20 program in 1984 for reporting the position and status of horses in a 100 mile cross country endurence run for AMRAD [4]. I spent two years improving the idea for amateur packet radio support of the National Disaster Medical System exercises sponsored by FEMA [7,8,9]. During this time frame I called it the Connectionless Emergency Traffic System (CETS). At the end of the second national exercise, I dropped the C-64 and began to port CETS to the new IBM PC. I also began to integrate packet mapping into the program.

During 1990 I got tired of trying to find a public domain set of maps and began to digitize the East Coast myself with a TEXT format so that any HAM could draw a map for any local packet application using only a text editor. Once that maping decision was made, APRS evolved nightly as I began to play with it on the air, and realized its potential. For four years now, APRS has consumed thousands of hours of evenings and weekends as I tweaked the program and drew maps.

Finally, I am not doing this to make money on amateur radio. The registration contribution helps defray the mailing hassles and the psychological burden of having hundreds of HAMS all across the country call me at home at all times of the evening with repititious and continuous questions. I learned this lesson the hard way by releasing my C-64 BBS source code to the HAM community in 1984 for free. Now, 11 years later, I still get phone calls, letters without SASE's, and registered letters from third world countries (requiring a trip to the post office) asking questions about this obsolete software!


[1] MULTI-USER DATA NETWORK OVER VHF RADIO, Bruninga, AMRAD Newsletter, Mar 1978.

[2] HF PACKETS, MODEMS and GATEWAYS, Bruninga, Third ARRL computer Networking Conference pg 6-7, 15 Apr 84. (HF packet specification for 200 HZ shift)

[3] EASTNET - AN EAST COAST PACKET RADIO NETWORK, Bruninga, p 9-11, Third ARRL Computer Networking Conference. 15 Apr 84. (MD,NJ & NY packet map)

[4] THE RACING PROBLEM: A PACKET SOLUTION, Bruninga, p 12-15, Third ARRL Computer Networking Conference, 15 Apr 84. (A connectionless protocol for reporting the location and status of Horses on a 100 mile endurence run. *(the original APRS concept)

[5] EASTNET - A YEAR LATER, Bruninga p 15-24, Fourth ARRL Computer Networking Conference, 30 Mar 85. (More East Coast maps and the first USA HF map)

[6] LINKING PERSONAL COMPUTERS BY PACKET RADIO, Bruninga, Proceedings, IEEE COMPCON 84 16 Sept 84, (Published the USA packet map, and amateur HF packet standards)

[7] CONNECTIONLESS EMERGENCY TRAFFIC SYSTEM, Bruninga, Packet Radio Magazine, pg 4-5, July 86. (details the design of the connectionless position and status reporting system)

[8] AN UPDATE ON THE CONNECTIONLESS EMERGENCY TRAFFIC SYSTEM, Bruninga, Packet Radio Magazine, Aug 86. (more of the same)

[9] CONNECTIONLESS PROTOCOL for the NDMS, Bruninga, p 19, Packet Radio Magazine, Nov 86. (using the connectionless protocol for emergency comms)

[10] PACKET RADIO AT THE WRECK OF THE AMTRACK COLONIAL, Bruninga, P 13 Packet Radio Magazine Jan 87. (using portable packet for disaster comms)

[11] LANS and WANS, Bruninga, 7th ARRL Computer Networking Conference, 1 Oct 88 (First DC/BALTIMORE area packet maps with APRS symbols)

[12] A WORLDWIDE PACKET RADIO NETWORK, Bruninga, Signal Magazine, June 88, (shows HF map of 10.149 MHz activity.

[13] PACKETRADIO IM NOTFUNKEINSATZ BEI EINEM ZUNGUNGLUCK, RTTY magazine 18 Jan 87. (translation of article on APRS at the AMTRACK train wreck)


[14] AUTOMATIC PACKET LOCATION SYSTEM (APLS), Bruninga, ARRL Gateway/QEX, Feb 1991. (early specification for position and status reporting formats)


[16] TRACKIT RADIO, Stan Horzepa, p 92, QST, July 93

[17] UPFRONT IN QST, p 11, QST, August 93. (excellent pictures)



[20] HOMING IN, Radio Direction Finding, by Joe Moell, page 56-59, October 94 issue of 73 Magazine.

[21] HOMING IN, by Joe Moell, Jan 95 issue of 73 magazine.

[22] "Track it With Packet", HOMING IN, Joe Moell, Feb 95 issue of 73.

[23] Ads by PacComm, AEA and KANTRONICS touting GPS packet. April 95 QST

[24] "GPS and PACKET", Buck Rogers, Packet Notes. CQ magazine May 95 issue.

[25] PACKET: Speed, More Speed and Appllications, ARRL Publication, chapter 4, 1995.

[26] "NMEA-0183: A GPS receiver standard", GPS World, July 1995.

[27] "Upgrade, Dont stop now",Radio Fun Magazine, August 1995

[28] QST Compares: GPS Compatible TNC's, Steve Ford WB8IMY, QST Oct 1995

[29] Availability of Seventy 9600 Baud Packet CHannels on Two Meters, 14th ARRL Digital Communications Conference, Arlington, TX 8-10 Sept 1995

[30] APRtrak, A Program for Determining the Locations of Ground Stations and Spacecraft, Proceedings of the AMSAT-NA 13th Space Symposium Oct 6-8 1995, Orlando, FL

[31] APRS in Balloons and HOMING-IN column Nov 95 issue of "73" Magazine

[32] The MIM Module, Mobile Radio Technology, May 1996

[33] APRS, feature article, Dec 1996 issue 73 magazine.

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