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Garmin: History of the Brand

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Garmin, you may have had one in your car or on your wrist now, but HOW did they get started?

Garmin, founded by Min Kao and Gary Burell and legally incorporated in Switzerland but headquartered in Olathe, Kansas, is one of the largest manufacturers of GPS devices for vehicles, aircraft, boats and sports. The first Garmin navigation equipment was introduced in 1989.

In this article I will tell you more about the history of Garmin.

Garmin logo

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What is Garmin?

The founders

Garmin is a technology company founded in 1989 by Min Kao and Gary Burell. Gary Leon Burell is an 81-year-old businessman and philanthropist from Stilwell, Kansas. Min H. Kao is a Taiwanese-American billionaire, businessman and philanthropist. Together they founded Garmin to make navigation devices using the Global Positioning System.

The brand

The company is active in automotive, marine, outdoor and sports activities. They are also active in the aviation industry. The name Garmin is a combination of the names of the two founders Gary Burell and Min Kao. In most countries the brand is called Garmin, but there are exceptions. For example, it is known as Formar in Belgium, Garmin AMB in Canada, Belanor in Norway, Trepat in Spain and Garmin-Cluj in Romania.

The products

Garmin has a wide range of products, including:

  • GPS navigation systems for cars
  • GPS watches for outdoor activities
  • GPS devices for marine navigation
  • Aircraft GPS devices
  • GPS devices for sports activities

These products enable people to locate, navigate and track their performance.

The story behind the Garmin logo

The history

The Garmin logo is as old as the company itself. It was designed in 1989 and registered in 2010. Although the logo has changed only once over the years, it is a laconic design with a minimum of elements. The title is the most important part.

The design

The logo is simple and elegant. It is named after the founders of the company – Gary Burrell and Min Kao (Gar+Min). It consists of slightly beveled capital letters, the lines of which are thickened. In front of the word is a graphic miniature sign – a globe made of translucent stripes. The base color is black on white.

The update

In 2006, the logo became more minimalist. The letters became thinner and smoother, making them transparent. The logo now consists of two parts: verbal and graphic. The title is in capital letters, in simple sans-serif type. There is also a geometric sign – a triangle, which focuses on innovation, dynamism, reliability and professionalism. The primary color is black, the secondary color is light blue.

How Garmin got started

The Garmin story begins with two folding chairs and a chart table. Gary Burrell and Min Kao were two US military personnel who used their knowledge to found ProNav in 1989. Their first product was a GPS device that sold for US$2500. A price that was high for that time!

GPS device for business

The device was not intended for consumers, but for businesses. It provided driving directions on all roads and highways in the United States. In 1991, ProNav acquired a major customer: the US military. After this deal, the company changed its name to Garmin.

Garmin's growth

Garmin has since become one of the most well-known brands in the navigation industry. They have expanded their range with products such as navigation devices for cars, planes, boats and bicycles. In addition, they have also launched a number of fitness devices. Garmin is now one of the most popular brands for navigation and fitness devices.

Garmin GPS equipment and watches

Garmin is a company that has been known for years for its innovative GPS equipment. Whether you are looking for a navigation system for the car, a clock to track your activities or a map to find your way in the wilderness, Garmin has it all.

Garmin watches

Garmin has a wide range of watches for every occasion. Whether you're looking for a sporty watch to track your performance, a stylish watch for work or a watch to track your adventures, Garmin has it all. For example, the Forerunner series is a popular watch used by runners and other sports enthusiasts.

GPS equipment

Garmin also has a wide range of GPS equipment. Whether you're looking for a car navigation system, a map to find your way in the wilderness or a device to track your activities, Garmin has it all. Most GPS devices feature a color screen, making it easy to view maps and follow navigation instructions.

Other products

Garmin also has a number of other products in its range. For example, fitness bands, bike computers, navigation apps and more. All of these products are designed to make your life easier. Whether you're looking for a way to track your activity or find your way in the wilderness, Garmin has it all.

Garmin: 3 million GPS devices sold

Garmin got it right! By 2000, the brand had already sold more than 3 million GPS devices. They had already built up a range of 50 different models that were sold in 100 countries by more than 2500 independent distributors. In addition, the company had 35 patents on everything related to GPS technology.

Big steps for a big company

Garmin was a big company in 2000. They employed 1205 people, many of them in the US and Taiwan. The company had already sold 3 million GPS devices, built up 50 different models and 35 patents on GPS technology.

GPS revolution

Garmin was one of the first companies to start the GPS revolution. They had already sold 3 million GPS devices, built up 50 different models and 35 patents on GPS technology. They also had over 2500 distributors in 100 countries.

Big future

Garmin had a great future ahead of it. With more than 3 million GPS devices sold, 50 different models and 35 patents on GPS technology, the company was ready to conquer the world. 1205 people were employed, many of them in the US and Taiwan.

Garmin Connect IQ: The 3.0 version is here!

Garmin users will know: the Garmin Connect IQ app is here! The 3.0 version has been launched along with MySim Pro Yelp, Trailforks and iHeartradio.

What is Garmin Connect IQ?

Garmin Connect IQ is an app that helps users achieve their fitness and health goals. It offers a wide range of features, including activity tracking, data analysis, and results sharing with friends.

What's new in Garmin Connect IQ 3.0?

Garmin Connect IQ 3.0 has some great new features, including:

  • MySim Pro Yelp: This feature helps users find the best restaurants, shops and activities in their area.
  • Trailforks: Trailforks helps users find the best trails for their adventures.
  • iHeartRadio: This feature allows users to access their favorite music and podcasts.

Garmin and the University of Kansas Medical Center

In May 2018, Garmin partnered with the University of Kansas Medical Center to address sleep apnea and atrial fibrillation. Together they developed an app that helps users monitor their sleep and heart rate so they can better manage their health.

Garmin Connect IQ 3.0 is a great way to reach your health and fitness goals. Whether you're looking for the best restaurants in your area, the best routes for your adventures or just want to listen to your favorite music, Garmin Connect IQ 3.0 has it all!

Garmin is expanding into the aviation world

Garmin is a company that has long been known for their innovative navigation and communication technology. In 2003, the company took things a step further by acquiring UPS Aviation Technologies, Inc. to take over. This acquisition gave Garmin access to aviation technology.

Garmin is expanding their range

Garmin has expanded their range to include GPS/NAV/COMM units for both private and commercial aviation. UPS Aviation changed their name to Garmin AT and became a subsidiary of Garmin.

Garmin's subsequent acquisitions

Garmin has not been idle since the acquisition of UPS Aviation Technologies, Inc. Here are some of their later acquisitions:

  • EME Tec Sat SAS
  • Digital Cyclone
  • Dynastream (ANT+ technology)
  • Nautamatic Marine Systems
  • Navigon
  • Kubu Ltd.

With these acquisitions, Garmin has increased their footprint in the aviation world. They continue to expand their range with innovative technologies to improve the aviation world.


Garmin has made good progress to become one of the best-known brands in the field of smartwatches. A long history of GPS products has led to the wearables you know today.

In short, as you can read, a reliable brand who know what they are doing.

Also read: these are the best smartwatches for kids right now

Always something to do for the holidays or rainy day?

Play Choice now has the ultimate activity book collection, with over 60 pages of fun coloring pages and educational puzzles.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of is a content marketer, father and loves trying out new toys. As a child he came into contact with everything related to games when his mother started the Tinnen Soldaat in Ede. Now he and his team create helpful blog articles to help loyal readers with fun play ideas.