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Bob Bruninga implemented the earliest ancestor of APRS on an Apple II computer in 1982. This early version was used to map high frequency Navy position reports.

In 1984, Bruninga developed a more advanced version on a Commodore VIC-20 for reporting the position and status of horses in a 100-mile endurance run.

During the next two years, Bruninga continued to develop the system, which he now called the Connectionless Emergency Traffic System (CETS). Following a series of FEMA exercises using CETS, the system was ported to the IBM PC.

During the early 1990s, CETS, now known as the Automatic Packet Reporting System, continued to evolve into its current form. As GPS technology became more widely available, 'Packet' was replaced with 'Position' to better describe the most common use of the system.