an 'iGage' and Why Does it Sell Maps and Professional GPS
iGage Mapping Corporation
a small engineering company in Salt Lake City, Utah. Founded
in early 1996, iGage began by provided electrical
engineering design and software services for industrial and
Eye + Gauge => iGage
The word 'iGage' is a play ('Eye
Gauge') on the machine vision, non-contact measurement
devices that were the basis of our core products. The name
was coined long before iEverything and eEverythingElse
become popular. Over the years we have come to regret our
trendy name, we are just boring engineers. It always
appeared to be too difficult to change our name to something
more descriptive like 'Light, Radio and Chemical Based
Measurement Tools and Systems'.
iGage is responsible for many of the
infrared absorption gas measurement devices that check
automotive emissions; the gas analyzers for oxygen
concentration measurement and calibration used in hospitals
and industry; several lines of high speed laser based
measurement tools for the non-contact measurement and
control of wire, fiber and cable extrusion; motorized valve
testing equipment; and lots of other nifty, but equally
unexciting tools and devices.
In March 1998 Mark Silver, an iGage
engineer, built a software tool that allowed him to view all
the 7½ minute quadrangle maps in the North Eastern corner of
Utah where he fishes. Mark paid his way through the
University of Utah fighting range fires for the Bureau of
Land Management in Vernal Utah. He loves maps, and he had
always dreamed of making a tool like All Topo Maps.
Originally he called his hobby 'iTopo' and it intrigued
everyone who saw it. He soon expanded it to cover all of
By August 1999, Mark was literally
burning up the iGage office CD-ROM burner making copies for
his friends and their acquaintances. In October 1999, Mark
decided to have a couple hundred copies made to give as
Christmas gifts. He learned that it was about the same price
to press 1,000 sets as it cost to burn 100 so he made a
simple User's Manual and some cover art then had 1,000 sets
of CDs pressed and assembled.
Mark spent several weeks giving maps
sets away, pulling the front covers and autographing them as
if he was a famous rock-star. Very quickly it became evident
that he would not be able to give them away fast enough to
satisfy everyone who wanted a copy so he convinced three
local retailers (Denali, Utah Idaho Map World and the Utah
Geological Survey store) to retail All Topo Maps.
When 'All Topo Maps' was released,
there was no competition and no comparable products to set a
price against. Mark decided that $100 was a fair price that
he would be willing to pay for the two-disk set. Within a
couple of weeks the concept of a simple, reasonably priced
consumer mapping tool was proven. Hundreds and hundreds of
copies were quickly sold. The 1,000 original map sets barely
made it through Christmas.
Four-disk Utah sets followed and
surrounding states were completed.
Selling maps is a lot more fun than
building gas measurement systems, so iGage had a GPS
interface tool written, improved the resolution and viewing
software and released several new states (Idaho, Colorado,
Wyoming.) Soon we had sold over 5,000 copies of All Topo
Maps to consumers, and to our surprise other engineers. More
states and nifty mapping tools like BigTopo have followed.
Eventually we had sold over 200,000 copies of 'All Topo
Maps' with a registered user list exceeding 25,000
In September 2000, all of iGage's
mapping products, employees, equipment and technology were
acquired by 'Igage Mapping Corporation'. iGage Mapping
Corporation is wholly owned by employees.
John, the proprietor
of Denali (one of the largest retail points of sale) was
hired and is now the director of iGage.
Why Topographic Maps?
Topographical maps are the basis for
almost everything that our society does. Early maps guided
exploration. Later maps formed the basis for land sales,
plat maps and land ownership. The topographic map series is
one of this nation's finest treasures, a resource of
uncountable value. The series was paid for by citizens for
their benefit, it should be available in a concise, friendly
form for everyone to use at a reasonable price.
Topographical maps are art. Each map
has been painstakingly generated by hundreds of artisans,
each improving on the work of their predecessors. When you
hang a quadrangle on your wall and look your favorite place
you don't see a paper map. Your mind sees the places you
have been, the mountains, hills, streams and lakes. You can
instantly remember those hikes you took 20 years ago and the
events that occurred on them. The maps, like fine art, are
more than paper and ink.
The Fall of Topographic
Since 2010, Google mapping
products have become the go-to source for consumers and
professional users. Much the same as 'All Topo Maps' lead to
the demise of paper topographic maps, Google Mapping
products have taken most of the share of all mapping
As of 2016, only two of the
many players in the digital topographic mapping business
remained (us and one competitor). In March 2017 iGage
stopped marketing 'All Topo Maps'. Support is expected to
stop in March of 2020.
It was by
accident that iGage fell into the role of providing digital
mapping and survey solutions. At the time of this writing we
have served millions and millions and millions of maps. Hopefully our
mapping products provided
extreme value, and simple to use map gratification for the
map needy and the truly map obsessed.
Over the past years, we
have become a supplier of Mapping and Survey GPS equipment
representing the linage of Thales-Magellan Professional-Ashtech
and Spectra Precision products. In 2013 we began a
relationship with CHC to produce the
X90-OPUS receiver which has
extended to a complete line of iGage mapping and survey grade
precision GPS equipment. We are now one of the largest
suppliers of GNSS equipment in the USA.
We are not a big outfit, so your
comments and suggestions make an immediate difference! Don't
hesitate to drop us a note if your have a great idea or hate
our guts and want to let us know about it. You will get a
Our Name and Apple Inc's 'iEverything'
One of the most common questions that we
are asked is 'How come Apple has not forced iGage to change
The iGage company (originally a DBA,
now a Corporation "iGage Mapping Corporation") was
registered in the State of Utah on July 3, 1996. At the
time, any existence of Apple products bearing the 'iXXX'
name was unknown to us. For reference the iMac-G3 was
introduced August 15, 1998 (two years after our origin) and the 'IMAC'
trademark is dated June 2000 (four years after our
In early 2000 we were contacted, by phone,
by someone representing themselves to be counsel for Apple. We informed them that we think our
business registration predates their trademarks. We have
never been contacted again.
The iGage name is kind-of unfortunate. The
original intent of 'measurement by looking not touching'
worked well for our gas analyzers and still works well for
our GPS lines. If we had known in 1996 that our name would be
hip and trendy, we probably never would have never chosen it. But it
is far too late to change now. Hip and trendy we remain
(...just kidding: no one would ever describe iGage as hip,
trendy or cool.)