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Garmin Ltd.
S&P 500 Component
Industry Technology
Founded October 1989; 27 years ago (1989-10) (as ProNav) in Lenexa, Kansas, United States
Founders Gary Burrell
Min Kao
Headquarters Olathe, Kansas U.S
Key people
Cliff Pemble (President & CEO)
Min Kao (Chairman)
Gary Burell (Chairman Emeritus)
Doug Boessen (CFO)
Products GPS receivers, avionics, wearable technology
Revenue Increase $2.82 billion (2015)[1]
Increase $550 million (2015)[1]
Increase $456 million (2015)[1]
Number of employees
10,000+ (2013)
Subsidiaries Garmin International Inc., Garmin (Asia) Corporation
FUSION Entertainment
Dynastream Innovations

Garmin Ltd. (shortened to Garmin, stylized as GARMIN, and formerly known as ProNav) is an American multinational technology company founded by Gary Burrell and Min Kao in 1989 in Lenexa, Kansas, United States, with headquarters located in Olathe, Kansas.[2][3]

The company is known for its specialization in GPS technology development for use in automotive, aviation, marine, outdoor, and sport activities and utilities.[4] Due to their development in wearable technology, they have also been competing with activity tracker and smartwatch consumer developers such as Fitbit and Apple.[5]


Founding and growth[edit]

In 1983, Gary Burrell recruited Min H. Kao from the defense contractor Magnavox while working for the former King Radio.[6] They founded Garmin in 1989 in Lenexa, Kansas,[2] as "ProNav". ProNav's first product was a GPS unit which sold for US$2,500. The company was later renamed "Garmin", a meld of the first names of its two founders, Gary Burrell and Min H. Kao.[7] In 1991, the U.S. Army became their first customer.[8]

By 1995, Garmin's sales had reached $105 million, and it had achieved a profit of $23 million. By 1999, sales had reached $233 million and a profit of $64 million. Garmin reported a 2006 total revenue of $1.77 billion, up 73% from $1.03 billion in 2005.[9][10]

On May 13, 1999, AirCell and Garmin International announced an alliance to develop new products that use AirCell's unique cellular air-ground link to bring affordable flight communications, navigation and safety to general aviation aircraft.[11] By 2000 Garmin had sold three million GPS devices, and was producing 50 different models. Its products were sold in 100 countries and carried by 2,500 independent distributors. As of 22 August 2000, the company held 35 patents on GPS technology. By the end of June 2000, the company employed 1,205 people: 541 in the United States, 635 in Taiwan, and 29 in the United Kingdom.[12]

Public offering[edit]

The company began public trading on NASDAQ on 8 December 2000. At that time Burrell owned 19,911,155 shares. Kao owned 20,352,803 shares. Together their holdings accounted for 45 percent of the company's stock. Kao's brother, Ruey-Jeng Kao, an attorney in Taipei, owned another 7,984,109 shares, which when combined with Burrell's and Kao's shares constituted 54.22 percent of the shares outstanding.[13]


The world's only Garmin retail location is located on the Magnificent Mile in Chicago, Illinois.

In August 2003, Garmin completed acquisition of UPS Aviation Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of United Parcel Service, Inc., expanding its product line of panel-mounted GPS/NAV/COMM units and integrated cockpit systems for private and commercial aircraft. The acquired company changed its name to Garmin AT, Inc. and continued operations as a wholly owned subsidiary of Garmin International, Inc.[14]

Garmin has acquired Dynastream Innovations,[15] EME Tec Sat SAS (EME),[16] and Digital Cyclone.[17] Dynastream, in Cochrane, Alberta, produces personal monitoring technology (ANT+)—such as foot pods and heart rate monitors for sports and fitness products—and also ultra-low-power and low-cost wireless connectivity devices for a wide range of applications (ANT). EME Tec Sat SAS (EME) is the distributor of Garmin's consumer products in France; following the acquisition, EME changed its name to Garmin France SAS. Digital Cyclone Inc (DCI), located in Chanhassen, Minnesota, provides mobile weather solutions for consumers, pilots, and outdoor enthusiasts. Garmin also bought Nautamatic Marine Systems,[18] an Oregon-based company that makes autopilot systems for boats. In July 2011, Garmin finished its acquisition of the German satellite navigation company Navigon.[19]

In 2006, Garmin introduced a new corporate logo,[20] and opened its first retail store, located on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, Illinois.[21]

In 2015, Garmin acquired South Africa's iKubu Ltd. for its Backtracker on-bicycle low power radar system.[22]

Corporate governance[edit]

Burrell retired in 2003 as Garmin's chief executive officer and in 2004 retired as chairman of its board of directors. He is now chairman emeritus. Kao became CEO in 2003, and chairman in 2004.[23]

In 2005, Forbes estimated Kao’s net worth at $1.5 billion. He has donated $17.5 million to the University of Tennessee. The same year Forbes estimated Burrell’s net worth as $940 million.[24]


Garmin Tech Center (台灣國際航電科技大樓) is the head office of Garmin (Asia) Corporation and located in the Xizhi District of New Taipei City, Taiwan

Garmin operates in several other countries besides the UK, USA, and Taiwan.[25] It operates as Formar (Belgium), Garmin AMB (Canada), Belanor (Norway), Trepat (Spain), and Garmin-Cluj (Romania).

Products and brands[edit]


In addition to devices with integrated software, Garmin also produces a number of software packages for use on a personal computer. This software was designed to run on only the Microsoft Windows operating system until 2006, when Garmin released all of its software for Mac OS X.[26]

Marine GPS[edit]

The company’s first product was the GPS 100, a panel-mounted GPS receiver aimed at the marine market, priced at $2,500. It debuted at the 1990 International Marine Technology Exposition in Chicago. The product was an instant hit and generated a backlog of orders for 5,000 units. In response to the demand thus created, Kao traveled (January 1991) to Taipei to set up manufacturing facilities.

Handheld GPS[edit]

A Garmin eTrex H, an early, basic GPS model

Another early product, a handheld GPS receiver, proved popular with military personnel serving in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia during the 1991 Gulf War. In the early 2000s (decade), Garmin launched a series of personal GPS devices aimed at recreational runners called the Forerunner. A similar wrist-worn GPS device with two dimensional GPS tracking and waypoint projection called the Garmin Foretrex is popular among day hikers, off-road mountain bikers, and sailboat racers.


A Garmin eTrex 30 simultaneously connects to both GPS and GLONASS satellites.

The compact eTrex series, as introduced in 2000. The series includes several models with different features and options. The original eTrex, commonly nicknamed "eTrex Yellow" offered a lightweight (5.3 oz/150 g), waterproof, palm-sized 12-channel GPS receiver to backpackers, hikers, and others afoot in remote areas, along with a battery life of up to 22 hours on two AA-size batteries.[27] It was replaced in 2007 by the eTrex H, which added a high-sensitivity receiver.[28] Other more advanced eTrex models include the Summit, Venture, Legend, and Vista, each with various additional features such as WAAS, altimeter, digital compass, city database, and highway maps. Many of these models come in color and expandable-memory versions.[29]

In May 2011, Garmin refreshed the eTrex product line with improved mechanical design and support for advances in cartography and hardware technology with its release of the eTrex 10, eTrex 20, and eTrex 30, Garmin became the first company to manufacture and distribute a worldwide consumer navigation product supporting both GPS and GLONASS satellite constellations.[30][31] In May 13, 2015 Garmin released the eTrex 20x and 30x, which succeeded the eTrex 20 and 30. The main upgrade was a higher resolution screen and 4GB storage, double of the previous models.[32]

July 2, 2015 Garmin introduced its eTrex Touch line, releasing three models (25, 35 and 35t), all featuring an 2.6" touch screen.[33]

eTrex Model 10 20 30 20x 30x Touch 25 Touch 35 Touch 35t
Release date May 2011 May 2015 July 2015
Release price $120 $200 $300 $200 $300 $250 $300 $350
Production state In Production Discontinued In Production
Satellite systems GPS & GLONASS (with WAAS & HotFix)
Compass No Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Barometer No
Screen size,


color & touch

2.2" 2.6"
128×160 176×220 240×320 160×240
Monochrome 65k color
No Yes
Memory - 2GB 4GB 8GB
Other features IPX7 waterproof, 2× AA battery, USB interface, Relief basemap, geocaching friendly.
- MicroSD storage, automatic routing, add custom maps.
Model 10 20 30 20x 30x Touch 25 Touch 35 Touch 35t

The Geko series was a compact line of handheld GPS receivers aimed at the budget or lightweight hiking market.

In 2004, Garmin introduced its 60C line of handheld GPS mapping receivers, featuring increased sensitivity and storage capacity along with a battery life of up to 30 hours in battery-save mode. This was followed by the 60Cx and 60CSx with improved color map displays.

With the GTM-11, GTM 20 and GTM 25, a Garmin GPS device receives and uses traffic message channel (TMC) information.[34] Also, some Garmin nüvi (1690, 1490T, 1450T, 1390T, 1390, 1350, 1260, 1250 and 265WT, 265T, 265W, 265, 255w and 255) comes with an integrated TMC receiver.

iQue PDA receivers[edit]

In 2003, Garmin launched the iQue line of integrated PDA-GPS receivers. On 31 October 2005, the iQue M4 became the first PDA that did not require a PC to preload the maps. The American version came with built-in maps of North America, while the UK version was supplied pre-loaded with maps of Western Europe.

Automotive GPS[edit]

Garmin nüvi 255W, with a 4.3 inch diagonal display

In 1998, the first Garmin StreetPilot was announced at the Consumer Electronics Show. It had a black and white screen and no voice. In 2002, the StreetPilot III added a color display and voice navigation. In October 2005, Garmin released the StreetPilot i-Series, compact GPS navigators which came in three models, i2, i3, i5. The i2 has a monochrome display, and maps need to be loaded on a Transflash card. The i3 is similar, except it has a color screen. The i5 has a color screen and the maps are preprogrammed into the device. More advanced versions of the StreetPilot include the c-Series, some of which sport large color touchscreens, FM traffic notifications, support for weather and information updates from MSN Direct, and Bluetooth support.

In 2005, the nüvi 300 series was released. It was the first modern-shaped automotive GPS, with a slim rectangular shape that could fit in a pocket. In October 2006, the firm began shipping the nüvi 660, a pocket-size widescreen successor to the nüvi 300 series. The 660 added bluetooth, FM transmitter, enhanced screen brightness and screen size, all in a small "flat" size. It was the last model to feature OSGB grid reference entry. Garmin's 2012 nüvi lineup includes "essential" models (nuvi 30/40/50 series); "advanced" models (nuvi 2405/2505 series); and "prestige" (nuvi 3400/3500 series). Advanced and prestige models carry additional features . Models that carry an "LM" designation include free updates of the installed maps. The nüvi series (at least) runs under Linux.

Garmin's Zumo line is designed specifically for motorcycles.

Garmin released its 2000's series in 2010, which includes 2200 (3.5 inch display), and 2300 (4.3 inch display).


Garmin also manufactures a line of sonar fishfinders, including some units that also have GPS capability.

Laptop GPS and mobile apps[edit]

In April 2008, Garmin launched Garmin Mobile PC, a GPS navigation software program for laptop PCs and other computers, based on the Microsoft Windows operating system, now discontinued.[35]

Garmin offers mobile apps for Android, Windows Phone, and for iPhone. On July 25, 2011, Garmin International, Inc. released Garmin StreetPilot Onboard N. America Version 1.0 for the iOS operating system 4.0 or later. It is compatible with iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPod touch (3rd and 4th generation) and GPS-enabled iPads. The iPhone app is 1.61 GB and has In-app purchases available including Traffic, and Fuel Prices. Map coverage includes North America (United States, Canada, Mexico, plus Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, the Bahamas, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Barthelemy, and Jamaica).


In early 2009, Garmin announced it would be manufacturing a location-specific cellular telephone in cooperation with Asus.[36] Called the Garmin-Asus nüvifone G60, the United States release on AT&T was scheduled for 4 October 2009.[37] Four other models in this line have since been released: two Windows Mobile-powered models for the European and Asian market, and two Android models, one for the Europe/Asia market and another for T-Mobile USA.

Personal trainers[edit]

The Garmin Edge and certain models of Garmin Forerunner is a suite of GPS-enabled devices for use while running or cycling.


Garmin avionics (an audio control panel; a GNS 430 combined GPS/VHF navigation receiver/VHF communication transceiver; and a transponder) in a light aircraft
Garmin GWX 68 aviation weather radar unit

Garmin has a dedicated division for aviation products, such as integrated cockpits, panel mount displays, multi-function displays (MFD), transponders, radar and other related avionics. For example, the G1000 is an all-glass avionics suite for OEM aircraft.[38] The G900X is similar to the G1000 but designed for use in experimental aircraft,[39] and the G600 is a retrofit solution for several certificated aircraft.[40]

Garmin entered the aviation market in 1991 with the GPS-100AVD panel-mounted receiver. Its first portable unit, the GPS-95, was introduced in 1993. In 1994, the GPS-155 panel-mounted unit was the first GPS receiver on the market to receive full FAA certification for instrument approaches.[41][42]

In 1998, Garmin introduced the GNS-430, an integrated GPS navigation receiver/communications transceiver.[41]

Garmin-AT subsidiary[edit]

In 2003, Garmin acquired UPS Aviation Technologies, including that firm's II Morrow Apollo line of aircraft MFD/GPS/NAV/COMM units. II Morrow had been founded in Salem, Oregon in 1982 as a manufacturer of LORAN C marine and general aviation products. In 1982 its aircraft navigator 602 LORAN C receiver permitted point to point navigation. Some examples of its LORAN units are Apollo II 616B Aviation LORAN panel mount (1986), II Morrow Apollo 604 Loran Navigator (1987) and Apollo 820 GPS Flybuddy (1991). In 1986, United Parcel Service (UPS) purchased the company to expand the use of electronic technology in the package delivery and tracking business.

II Morrow shifted focus from marine business to development of package process automation technology for UPS such as vehicle management systems, automated high speed package sorting systems, as well as delivery and tracking systems. In 1999, II Morrow was renamed to UPS Aviation Technologies, and re-focused towards modernizing UPS' Boeing 7xx series Heavy Iron Transport Category Aircraft fleet, as well they also re-entered the general aviation marketplace. It certified the first Gamma 3 WAAS GPS engine for FAA Certified Precision GPS approaches.[43] The new certified WAAS engine yielded vertical and horizontal accuracy of one meter RMS in guidance into airports without existing ILS approaches. This GPS technology met the FAA's TSO-C146a primary navigation standards for en route, terminal and approach phases of flight—with WAAS augmentation as the sole means of navigation. This primary GPS "sole source" navigation capability was integrated into the CNX-80. The CNX-80 WAAS GPS/COM/NAV integrated navigator was the first product in the industry approved for primary GPS navigation. It also enabled LPV "glidescope" approaches without requiring ground nav aids. New LNAV (GPS) approaches provide the accuracy and safety of an ILS—without the ground-based localizer and glideslope equipment.[44] Later, the CNX-80 was renamed the GNS-480, under Garmin.[45]

As UPS Aviation Technologies, this subsidiary was also involved with development, engineering, and manufacturing functional products for the FAA's Capstone program, which also included ADS-B transponder (UAT and FIS), datalink services, and the MX-20 Multi Function Display that in addition to NAV, it displayed terrain, real-time weather, Jeppeson plates, other ADS-B aircraft, and a variety of other functions in 2000.

Under the FAA Capstone Phase I program, a fleet of small commercial aircraft were equipped for an evaluation of the safety benefits from the use of advanced technologies during day-to-day operations in Alaska's high-risk operating environment. The aircraft are fitted with IFR capable GPS receivers, a Universal Access Transceiver (UAT) data-link system that enables Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) and Flight Information Services (FIS) including real-time weather, and a multifunction display (MFD) depicting terrain, other ADS-B aircraft, and weather graphics and text data. These avionics was installed on 200 aircraft used for commuter, charter and mail flights in southwest Alaska.

In 1999: Flight International magazine presented UPS Aviation Technologies with its Aerospace Industry Award for the development of ADS-B, a surveillance technology intended to reduce aviation delays while improving safety. [46]


Garmin Fenix3 Multisport GPS Watch

The Garmin Vivofit 3 measures the wearer's steps, measures his sleep, judges his body movement, and counts his heart rate and the number of stairs that he has climbed.[47]

The Garmin Vivomove is a classic watch with an activity tracking capabilities. It has a built-in accelerometer (calculates distance for indoor workouts, without need for a foot pod), step counter, auto goal (learns the wearer's activity level and assigns a daily step goal), move bar, and sleep-monitoring capabilities.[48]

The Garmin produces the Vivo HRSmart, the most remarkable wearable technology with the affordable price compared to the competitor. Vivo HRSmart is significantly improved from the previous model, Vivo fit 3. It comes with the touch screen and includes sensible heart-rate monitoring, media player controller, receivable text and phone finder features.

The Garmin Forerunner 735 XT features multi-sport tracking capabilities, built in heart rate sensor, and a variety of special profiles for jogging, swimming, cycling, skiing, paddle sports, a variety of weight loss activities, and hiking. It comes with built-in GPS to track the location and to calculate the distance. .[49] Garmin announced the latest multisport GPS smartwatch Fenix 5 on January 4, 2017, with some advanced features .[50]


Most current Garmin devices can display its current location on a map, which is vector-based and stored in the built-in memory or loaded from additional flash media. The built-in (or 'basemap') displays all country borders and major cities. Garmin offers different maps for purchase, including detailed road maps, topographic maps and nautical maps. Non-commercial maps are also available and can be displayed on most Garmin GPS devices.

The maps used by Garmin products are currently provided by Navteq.[51] Map errors are handled using Navteq Map Reporter.[52] Errors can be reported using Garmin's report a map error page,[53] or by using the Navteq map reporter.[54]

Sport sponsorship[edit]

In 2007 Garmin began sponsorship of English Premier League football club Middlesbrough in a one-year deal that was carried into a second year for the 2008/09 season.[55] In 2008 Garmin began sponsorship of cycling team Garmin-Sharp to promote its Edge line of bicycle computers.[56] In 2015, the team became Cannondale-Garmin.[57] In 2014 Garmin paired up with Premier League side Southampton FC in a global partnership. Garmin's European head office is located in Southampton.[58]

See also[edit]


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  55. ^ "Garmin to sponsor Middlesbrough". 
  56. ^ Macur, Juliet (19 June 2008). "Another American Team Receives a Title Sponsor -". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 May 2010. 
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External links[edit]