Lowrance Electronics

Privately Held
Owned by Navico
Industry Marine Electronics
Founded Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States (October 1957 (1957-10))
Area served
Key people
Leif Ottosson, president & CEO[1]
Products Lowrance HDS Gen3, Gen2 and Gen2 Touch, Elite Ti, HOOK, SonarHub, 4G Broadband Radar
Website www.lowrance.com

Lowrance is a manufacturer of consumer sonar and GPS receivers, as well as digital mapping systems. Headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Lowrance employs approximately 1,000 people. The company is best known for its High Definition Systems (HDS) and add-on performance modules which include Broadband 4G Radar, StructureScan with SideScan and DownScan Imaging, Sonic Hub Audio, Sirius LWX-1 Weather, and NAIS Collision Avoidance.

The Lowrance brand is wholly owned by Navico, Inc. A privately held, international corporation, Navico is currently the world’s largest marine electronics company, and is the parent company to leading marine electronics brands: Lowrance, Simrad Yachting and B&G. Navico has approximately 1,500 employees globally and distribution in more than 100 countries worldwide. www.navico.com


Lowrance, a designer and manufacturer of Sonar, GPS and Aviation instruments, got its start in Joplin, Missouri in 1957. Carl Lowrance, an avid fisherman with an inquisitive nature, shared his love of the sport with his two sons, Darrell and Arlen. Darrell and Arlen were among the first inland skin divers, and through this activity learned that most fish in any given body of water were generally found in schools and in specific areas.

It became obvious to the Lowrances that an instrument was needed to show fishermen where to concentrate their fishing efforts. They designed the world's first high frequency transistorized sonar for sport fishing and boating with several things in mind. It had to be portable, compact, lightweight, contain its own batteries and be relatively inexpensive. The advent of transistors into consumer electronics products was very important to the unit's concept. In 1957 commercial sonar units were selling for more than $2000. The first Lowrance unit sold for less than $150.

A small manufacturer was selected to produce the first 2,000 units. Unfortunately, the manufacturer's performance was less than satisfactory. In July 1958, a second firm was selected, but again the quality and quantity specified by Lowrance was never achieved.

In 1959, the family decided the only way to produce the instrument they wanted-with excellent quality and in quantities to satisfy the demand-was to manufacture it themselves. Their first move was to replace, at no charge, over 700 of the previously produced products. "We didn't have a lot of money," Carl said. "We acquired an old warehouse and literally built a factory from scratch." In November 1959 the company introduced the first "Little Green Box" portable sonar unit. It became the most popular sonar in the world. More than a million were produced between 1959 and 1984.[2]

In 1964 the operation moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, and manufacturing started in a rented building in January 1965. A tremendous amount of work was done by the Lowrance's to promote, sell and advance the technology of their products. Boats grew larger and more powerful. Higher speeds meant new transducer designs. In 1965 Lowrance introduced the first sonars and transducers capable of high-speed performance.

A new building was completed in 1971 and a large addition was added in 1974. As the company grew, it enhanced its reputation by introducing new products to meet the changing marketplace. Gimbal mount sonar units, especially the LFG-300, rapidly sold alongside and eventually replaced the Little Green Box. More and more effort went into research and development.

In 1974 the first graph recorder produced by the company, the LRG-600, combined a flasher and a paper chart in one box. The first straight-line graph recorder, the LRG-1510, came in 1977. Soon, many boats had more than one sonar unit on board.

In 1979, Lowrance introduced the LDD-1800, the world's first sonar unit guaranteed NOT to find fish. The LDD-1800 was one of the first digital depth sounders to be controlled by a tiny computer built inside. It would show only the bottom depth in large digital numbers and required no controls. This was Lowrance's first completely automatic depth sounder.

Lowrance introduced the System 2000 line of flashers in 1981. The X-15 was introduced in 1982. This computerized chart used a ten-key keypad instead of a range knob. For the first time fishermen could "dial-up" virtually any range. Another astonishing feature was its capability to show separate targets that were as little as one-inch apart! No other sonar unit of any kind had these features.

In 1985, Lowrance unveiled its first Liquid Crystal Graph (LCG), the X-3. Although it had only 83 vertical pixels (more than many of its competitors), it took the market by storm and was the beginning of a new era in Lowrance sonar. Also in 1985 the ultimate paper graph recorder was introduced-the legendary X-16. In 1987 the X-16 was select by a team of scientists and explorers to be the sonar used in Operation Deepscan, an expedition to explore Loch Ness in Scotland.

In 1988, Lowrance diversified into the navigation market and introduced its first Loran-C products, the LMS-200 and LMS-300. Boasting wide LCD screens, these dual-purpose units had both a Loran-C receiver and sonar capabilities. These were also the first units with menus, making it easy to select features and make adjustments.

Lowrance again increased its technological advantage in 1991 with the introduction of its first GPS receivers, incorporating Rockwell GPS technology. In 1995 Lowrance introduced the GlobalMap 2000, the world's first LCD product to offer integrated GPS, mapping and sonar capabilities.

In 1996 Lowrance introduced the industry's first 12 channel hand held GPS sold for under $200. Also, in 1996, Lowrance introduced the industry's first hand held aviation GPS with full mapping capability. Concurrent with the introduction of the mapping products, was the introduction of the innovative Lowrance Inland Mapping System (IMS) cartridges, which offered detailed digitized mapping of most U.S. inland lakes and waterways. The IMS cartridge offering was expanded to include IMS SmartMap, IMS WorldMap and aviation cartridges.

In 1998 a new series of hand held GPS mapping products were introduced, shipped with Lowrance's breakthrough IMS MapCreate CD-ROM which includes all of Lowrance's IMS SmartMaps, IMS WorldMaps, rural roads, coastal navigation aids and wrecks and obstructions data enabling the upload of customizable maps into the units. In 2002 the Lowrance LCX-16ci SONAR/GPS combo was presented the prestigious "Best of Show" Award at ICAST 2000.

During 2001, the Company announced an entire new family of SONAR and GPS-mapping products in totally new compact case designs. Lowrance announced over 15 new models for 2003...from entry-level fishfinders to mega-screen color combos.

In 2006, Lowrance was purchased by Simrad Yachting. This merger went on to create Navico, now the largest leisure marine electronics manufacturer in the world.[3]

In the fall of 2008, Lowrance announced a complete overhaul to its line GPS and sonar devices with the introduction of the Lowrance High Definition Systems (HDS). Available in four display sizes (5", 7", 8" and 10"), the multifuction range marked the first use of the renowned Navico Operating System (NOS), and greatly extended the functionality of the Lowrance line to include radar, AIS, realtime weather, integrated audio and advanced sonar imaging options.[4]

Lowrance presently offers the most complete range of sonar and GPS products available from any one manufacturer for nearly every fishing, boating and outdoor need.

Warranty and Support

Lowrance products are protected by a two-year limited warranty, and supported for an additional three years by the Lowrance 5-Year Advantage Program, which allows customers to upgrade to the latest technology, at a discounted price, in the unlikely event that a product fails or needs repair.[5]

Recent Announcements

Lowrance Link-5 VHF 05/01/12
Lowrance Partners with Phoenix Boats 04/27/12 [6]
Lowrance LSS-2 StructureScanHD 03/15/12 [7]
Lowrance Ultimate Upgrade Sales Event 02/22/12
Lowrance Nautic Insight HD and Insight PRO 02/16/12 [8]
Lowrance Lake Insight HD and PRO 2012 02/16/12 [9]


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