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First established as the surveying and construction division of Spectra Physics, Spectra Geospatial now brings together some of the biggest names in the Surveying, Construction and Accessory industries:



  • Dating back to 1846, the surveying division of Carl Zeiss AG is still our Jena-based R&D center developing world-class surveying instruments
  • The surveying division of Nikon Corporation is now structured as a joint venture with Trimble (Nikon-Trimble Co. Ltd)
  • Ashtech, a pioneer in the GNSS industry and developer of many unique GNSS technologies, has R&D teams located near Nantes, France and in Moscow, Russia
  • Tripod Data Systems (TDS) formed in Corvallis, Oregon – the leading independent survey software vendor continues to refine the market-leading Survey Pro software


  • Laserplane – From day one, every major development in laser positioning for construction, including the first rotating laser, started here
  • Spectra Physics – The parent of Spectra Geospatial – was the industry’s first commercial laser company founded in 1961
  • Apache Technologies – the world leader in laser detection – handheld laser detectors and entry-level machine display receivers


  • Crain Enterprises – a leading manufacturer of accessories for the geomatics, surveying, mapping, and construction industries – focused on polymer and composite-based products lines
  • SECO Manufacturing of Redding, California – specializes in the development, fabrication and machining of metallic accessory products as well as all general accessories for the surveying and positioning markets


1846 – Carl Zeiss AG established in Jena, Germany, by Carl Zeiss – pioneer in the field of optics and precision lenses
1917 – Nikon Corporation formed through the merger of three Japanese optical manufacturers
1950 – World’s first automatic level
1965 – The first commercial laser level was developed by a team at Laserplane / Spectra Physics in Dayton, Ohio
1968 – World’s first rotating laser
1969 – World’s first laser control of construction and drainage machinery
1974 – World’s first electronically leveled pipe laser
1975 – World’s first electronically leveled rotating laser
1981 – World’s first electronic level
1987 – Tripod Data Systems (TDS) – TDS has become the leading independent survey software company in the United States and Canada
1987 – Ashtech Corporation is founded in California
1988 – World’s first cone technology laser
1990s – The Spectra Precision Division of Spectra Physics expands with the acquisition of Geotronics (Sweden), Plus 3 (Atlanta, GA) and Terrasat (Munich)
1997 – Ashtech merged with the consumer GPS business of Magellan Corporation
1998 – World’s first proportional machine control laser receiver
1999 –Joint venture created between Spectra Precision and Carl Zeiss AG to manage the Zeiss surveying business
2000 – The Spectra Precision optical surveying and laser business acquired to complement Trimble’s successful GNSS surveying and construction divisions
2000 – Tripod Data Systems acquired by Trimble and augments its established survey software business with a line of rugged handheld data collectors that becomes the benchmark for the industry
2001 – Trimble Jena GmbH – the new name for the Zeiss surveying business – is now 100% owned by Trimble, but continues to this day to operate from the Zeiss premises in Jena
2002 – Trimble and Caterpillar began a joint venture, Caterpillar Trimble Controls Technologies LLC, to develop the next generation of advanced electronic guidance and control products for earthmoving machines in the construction, mining and waste industries
2003 – Nikon Corporation and Trimble establish Nikon-Trimble Co Ltd, a joint venture. Nikon-Trimble Co Ltd represents both parent companies in the Japanese domestic market; outside Japan, Nikon-branded optical instruments are exclusively sold by the Spectra Precision Division of Trimble
2005 – Trimble expands Laser Technology portfolio with acquisition of Apache Technologies
2008 – Trimble Acquires SECO Manufacturing and Crain Enterprises – leading Engineering and Construction Accessories Companies
2009 – Ashtech emerges as an independent entity following the sale of the Magellan consumer GPS business
2011 – Ashtech acquired and merged into the Spectra Precision division of Trimble

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