"sept1c_tank" <>
Sent: 5/3/2006 2:49:47 PM

Happy 6th (belated) Birthday Geocaching

Happy belated birthday geocaching.

Dave Ulmer invented geocaching and introduced it to the world on May
2, 2000, the day after President Clinton stopped the intentional
degradation of the Global Positioning System (GPS) signals available
to the public.

On a USENET newsgroup (that eventually evolved into this very
group), Ulmer wrote, "Now that SA is off we can start a worldwide
Stash Game!! With Non-SA accuracy…should be easy to find someone's
stash from waypoint information.

"Waypoints of secret stashes could be shared on the Internet, people
could navigate to the stashes and get some stuff. The only rule
would for stashes is: Get some Stuff, Leave some Stuff!!"

The following afternoon, he continued, " Make your own stash in a
unique location, put in some stuff and a log book. Post the location
on the Internet. Soon we will have thousands of stashes all over the
world to go searching for."

That same day, Ulmer hid the first stash, reporting, "Well, I did
it, created the first stash hunt stash and here are the coordinates:

N 45 17.460
W122 24.800

"Lots of goodies for the finders. Look for a black plastic bucket
buried most of the way in the ground. Take some stuff, leave
some stuff! Record it all in the log book. Have Fun!

"Stash contains: Delorme Topo USA software, videos, books, food,
money, and a slingshot!"

His concept was accepted eagerly and soon stashes, as they called
them way back then, began to crop up in the far reaches of the
world. Rampant conversation about the new, wacky idea quickly led to
discussion about the less than desirable term stash, and on May 30,
Matt Stum suggested an alternative name, geocache,
reasoning, "Several people have already stated their dislike for the
term "stash" on the basis that it sounds illegal…The word cache both
brings forth feelings of nostalgia for the days of exploring, as
well as a "techie" feeling for those that associate it with computer

Ulmer grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, one of the smartest kids on
the block. As a youngster in the early 1950s, he built transistor
radios in band aid boxes and souped up mini bikes that reportedly
went over 100MPH in a quarter mile. According to a letter from a
childhood friend, "Let me assure you Dave Ulmer is NOT your ordinary
man…At age 14 Dave completely overhauled a Buick automatic
transmission...with no manuals or training…Get him to tell you about
his invention of a high-output "still" made from a household water

As an adult, Ulmer pursues snowmobiling, dirt biking, wine making
and a love for the "sweet spots" he finds while researching the
thousands of geocaches hidden around the world. He also has a soft
spot for cats.

Early in the evolution of geocaching, Ulmer began to have some
misgivings about the game. He began to worry about legalities like
permission issues and ecological damage. Commercialization of the
game was also an issue. As early as June 12, only six weeks after
his invention, Ulmer wrote, "You really don't see the problems with
a sport until you get deeply involved in it…"
Several days later he wrote, "Imagine a tiny path through the forest
with ferns that almost cover your feet as you walk. As the trail
winds through the forest it passes a large clearing covered with
fern. In the middle of the clearing is a large log. Sitting on this
log gives you a beautiful view of mountain peaks.

"What a great place for a Geocache! The log is only 100 meters off
the trail. Geocacher plants his cache under the log and records the
coordinates for display on the Internet.

"...Ten years later...The clearing is now covered with foot paths
approaching the log from all directions. Ferns are trampled all over
the place. Around the log is a 10 meter circle of mud. Initials of
many visitors are carved in the log, geocache is there but empty…"
Frustrated, on June 17, the inventor of geocaching wrote, "OK, OK. I
Give Up! All development on the sport of Geocaching should cease."

Well, Dave didn't just drop out of geocaching. In fact, he remained
quite active in various discussions about the game, still predicting
that geocaching would fall into a competitive, commercial,
ecological and legal maelstrom. In retrospect, he wasn't that far

Meanwhile, as geocaching grew in world wide popularity, someone
(Jeremy Irish) started Grounded, Inc., the website that eventually
became the largest, most popular geocache listing site known today
as Groundspeak, or As the site grew, the owner
sought ways to make it pay for itself and initiated a deal with 20th
Century Fox, the producers of the movie The Planet of the Apes. The
promotion involved a dozen or so caches hidden and listed with the
same name.

It was during this period that Ulmer was becoming more and more
disillusioned with the evolution of his invention. He logged one of
the Ape caches with what was considered by Groundspeak to be
political remarks and his log was deleted.
Ulmer wrote in the Yahoo GPSstash group on June 2, 2001, "Greetings!
Since my log of winning the A.P.E #2 cache hunt was censored off, I thought I would make just a few comments here in
hopes of a little more tolerance of my views.

"Here is what I said that was censored: (I hope I remember exactly)
"Yep, I got there first! Dave Ulmer Creator/Inventor of Geocaching
found the A.P.E #2 cache all by myself... I would tell my hunt story
but this web site would then claim Copyright on my work as they
havedone with Geocaching itself... Dave Ulmer, Creator"

About the same time, he was banned from the Groundspeak forums and
he archived all of his caches, removing most of the statistical data
accompanying them.

Also about the same time, Groundspeak removed mention of Ulmer by
name in their published version of the history of geocaching. To
this day, Groundspeak claims that the first geocache was placed
by "a someone."

Happy belated birthday geocaching.