In the collection there is a small group of total stations. Most total stations are hardly worth collecting; they are little innovative, instruments of low accuracy, and stop functioning sooner than their analogue counterparts: the theodolites.
Still a few have made it to the collection for various reasons. Having been the very first instrument to be called "Total Station" the Hewlett-Packard HP 3810A Total Station is the oldest one in the collection. Although it "... measures slope distance, zenith angle, corrects for curvature and refraction, and computes and displays horizontal or vertical distance", there was no internal storage yet, nor was there a way to read the horizontal circle electronically, so it was not yet a total station in the way the other instruments in this section are.
The 1980 Wild TC1 was the first to have a fully integrated and coaxial EDM and one of the first to have a fully digital data recorder. The very first total station (i.e. an instrument that could automatically measure distances and read vertical and horizontal angles and store these observations on a medium) was the Zeiss Reg Elta 14, which used a punched paper tape (ticker-tape) for storage. The 1980s Zeiss Elta 20 belonged to the first series of total station that featured internal storage based on semi-conductor technology. The early 1980s also saw the very first robotic total station: the SAT/SAGEM AGA-Minilir, which would soon be followed by one of the first purposely built robotic total stations: the Krupp Atlas PolarTrack. The 1984 Kern E1 is a nice example of an electronic theodolite that, by adding a DM503 electronic distance meter (EDM) and field book, could be converted into an actual total station. The end of the 1980s saw the advent of the software-driven total stations like the Geodimeter System 400. Finally to show the progress in technique by the end of the 20th century the 1999 Leica TCRA 1101 robotic total station was added, in those days the best total station money could buy.
If you have any questions and/or remarks please let me know.
Surveyor's crosses... Geodetic Sextants... Theodolites... Total Stations... Levels... Standards... Tools... Firms...
1970s HP 3810A 1980 SAT AGA-Minilir 1980 Wild TC1 1980s Zeiss Elta 20 1984 Kern E1 1986 Geodimeter System 400 1992 Krupp Atlas PolarTrack 1999 Leica TCRA 1101