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Today in Tech History: Tracking Santa


Want to know where Santa is right now? Check the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) Santa Tracker. The agency typically monitors more ominous things (like missiles), but that changed in 1955, thanks to a wrong number.

Fifty-eight years ago, a Sears advertisement appeared in a Colorado newspaper. The ad included a phone number for children to call to find out where Santa was on his rounds. However, the number was wrong. Instead of reaching Sears, kids reached a military command center.

According to NORAD, the colonel in command (who must have been a jolly soul) decided to play along. Thus, phone operators “located” Santa and reported his position to every young caller.

Today, Santa Tracker is a full-fledged Christmas Eve operation. Volunteers answer thousands of calls and emails from around the world. Fortunately, NORAD has the necessary resources–radar, satellite, and fighter jets–to track the elusive elf. Several Santa tracking apps are now available. And of course, Santa updates will also be posted to Facebook and Twitter.

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