The compass is a very important device for outdoor enthusiasts like campers, hikers, hunters, fishermen, trekkers, etc. In addition to that, professionals like military personnel, seamen, sailors, etc. consider compass to be one of the most important items in their checklists. If truth to be told, the compass is not a new thing; it has a history of thousands of years although modern-day compasses are different in design from their ancestors.
Although global positioning systems (GPS) are used more than the compasses these days, compasses are still considered to be a must-have item in a survival kit of an outdoor enthusiast. For instance, a compass can be very useful in the absence of GPS signals (when you are out there in the woods) or your GPS device is dead. Since compasses don’t need any electricity to function, you can rely on it at least for basic navigations. In fact, the liquid compass is the end result of the hard work and studies done by astronomers, navigators, and physicists.
The concept of the modern-day compasses originated back in 247 B.C. in China. They realized that a magnetized pointer automatically positions according to the magnetic field of the Earth. During the 11th century, compasses were used for navigation. Nevertheless, various difficulties were experienced by early users when using the compass for navigation. By about 1300, various improvements were introduced to the compass. As a result, the dry compass was invented. According to the sources, the dry compass was invented by a French scholar Peter Peregrinus with the help of an Italian pilot named Flavio Gioja. The design of the first dry compass is done by Peter Peregrinus. Nevertheless, the plan of the compass (the positioning of the magnetized needle over the compass card) is done by Flavio Gioja.
Later on, it became very popular. However, users experienced various issues with the dry compass. For instance, it showed some excessive swinging when the user travels with the compass. The liquid compass was introduced as a solution to that by Sir Edmund Halley (an English astronomer). That happened back in 1690. The placement of the liquid in the compass ensured that there is better control over the swing. However, the earlier models of the liquid compass were pretty heavy and the design was bulky. Also, they were prone to damages and therefore it couldn’t substitute dry compass perfectly.
The problem was solved in 1890 thanks to the improved liquid compass introduced by Edward Samuel Ritchie (who was an American inventor and a physicist). Because of the significant improvement of the device, even the U.S. Navy started to use them. Later on, even the Royal Navy started to get the help of compasses.
Even with the advent of modern-day high-end devices, compasses are considered to be an excellent tool that can help you in emergencies to find the directions. That is exactly why compasses are considered to be a must-have item in the survival kit of any outdoor enthusiast.