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posted May 9, 2012, 9:24 AM by Greg Jewett   [ updated May 9, 2012, 9:46 AM ]

With the flip of a proverbial switch, the idea of geocaching flickered to life 12 years ago. On May 2, 2000, at an order from the U.S. President, Selective Availability (the intentional degradation of the GPS signal available to civilians) was turned off. Civilian GPS devices instantly became 10 times more accurate. The original geocache was placed one day later. It was hidden in the U.S. state of Oregon on May 3, 2000.

In the geocaching community, we refer to the demise of Selective Availability as the "flipping of the great blue switch." Although there never was a literal switch, the results are undeniable. Geocaching spread around the globe. Now you can use Geocaching.com, or one of the Geocaching.com smartphone apps to embark on adventures to more than 1.7 million active geocaches hidden around the world. The geocaching community has ballooned from that original small group of GPS enthusiasts to more than five million people.

Connect with your geocaching community. Share your stories about your first geocaching experience on the Geocaching.com Facebook page.

Geocaching.com Presents: A Brief History of Geocaching

Watch the Geocaching.com Presents video “A Brief History of Geocaching” to see how geocaching began.

Civilian GPS device become 10 times more accurate on May 2, 2000 - when "Selective Availability" was turned off.

The history of geocaching stretches back to a single container placed in the hills of Oregon, USA. The date was May 3, 2000.  The idea was radical. Treasure hunters would be guided by signals from orbiting satellites. The first geocache was found within days. It sparked a global movement to get off the couch and get outside.  The hobby has spread around the world. There are now more than 1.7 million geocaches and more than five million people call themselves geocachers. Join our ranks by exploring Geocaching.com.