2006 Hays Award

Presented to: Mr. James D. Litton

Citation: In recognition of a distinguished career in which his pioneering leadership contributed to significant advances in design and performance of satellite navigation and surveying instruments.


James D. Litton was the director of engineering at Magnavox Research Labs when researchers there were performing pioneering work on CDMA for range measurements, the precursor to the GPS system, where he also worked the original proposal for GPS Phase I. He later became the general manager of Magnavox's Marine and Survey Systems Division which he managed for more than 13 years as it pioneered many new and advanced commercial navigation and survey equipments, first using the Navy's TRANSIT system and later the Global Positioning System.

Under his guidance, several technologies were brought to practical applications. These included the development and production of the first microprocessor-based commercial satellite navigation receivers. The division became the dominant supplier of TRANSIT survey receivers under Litton's leadership, achieving more than a 90 percent share of the survey receiver market.

Under Litton's tutelage, when the first GPS satellites were launched, the division developed early and pioneering GPS navigators and survey sets which were standards for the industry and incorporated many of the early rapid advances in GPS signal processing technology. This resulted in remarkable improvements in accuracy and performance over the first few years. These developments included the first commercial GPS survey software and more than two dozen patents for improvements in GPS technology.

In 1992, Litton left Magnavox to start a consulting business, which led to the founding of NavCom Technology, Inc. in 1994. Under Litton's leadership, NavCom has become a significant player in the GPS marketplace. Based on projections for 2007, NavCom should deliver more than 40,000 dual-frequency GPS receivers. In addition to the dual-frequency GPS receivers, NavCom developed, under contract, a single-frequency, WAAS capable GPS aircraft navigation receiver. In cooperation with JPL, NavCom owns and operates for its parent company the StarFire SBAS GPS system. Since Deere & Company's 1999 purchase of NavCom, Litton has been an active member of the Deere Technology Council that is tasked with guiding technology development throughout Deere.