In the late 1950s, Carl Lowrance and his sons Arlen and Darrell began scuba diving to observe fish and their habits. This research, substantiated by local and federal government studies, found that about 90 percent of the fish congregated in 10 percent of the water on inland lakes. As environmental conditions changed, the fish would move to more favorable areas. Their dives confirmed that most species of fish are affected by underwater structure (such as trees, weeds, rocks, and drop-offs), temperature, current, sunlight and wind. These and other factors also influence the location of food (baitfish, algae and plankton). Together, these factors create conditions that cause frequent relocation of fish populations.
During this time, a few people were using large, cumbersome sonar units on fishing boats. Working at low frequencies, these units used vacuum tubes which required car batteries to keep them running. Although they would show a satisfactory bottom signal and large schools of fish, they couldn’t show individual fish. Carl and his sons began to conceptualize a compact, battery operated sonar that could detect individual fish. After years of research, development, struggle and simple hard work, a sonar was produced that changed the fishing world forever.
Out of this simple beginning, a new industry was formed in 1957 with the sale of the first transistorized sportfishing sonar. In 1959, Lowrance introduced “The Little Green Box,” which became the most popular sonar instrument in the world. All transistorized, it was the first successful sportfishing sonar unit. More than a million were made until 1984, when it was discontinued due to high production costs.
Source: Lowrance Electronics