Total Station

Total Station

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A total station is a theodolite paired with an electronic distance measuring instrument, and so can measure horizontal angles, vertical angles, and distances. This example is marked “LIETZ / SET 4 / D2 0820” and “SET 4” and “SOKKISHA MADE IN JAPAN” and design number 103368. The SET 4 was in production from 1988 until around 1995. Those marked Sokkisha (rather than Sokkia) were made from 1988 to 1990.
The Federal Aviation Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation, used this total station, and others, to map the topography of areas around airport runways so that electronic and visual landing aid can be optimally situated.
Adolph Lietz (1860-1935) was born in Germany and came to the U.S. as a young man. The A. Lietz Company began in business in San Francisco in 1882, offering a wide range of surveying, geodetic and navigation instruments made by others as well as some of its own manufacture. It ceased production in 1947 but remained a distributor for other manufacturers. The Frank Paxton Co. bought the firm in 1965, moved it to Kansas City, and renamed it The Lietz Company. This company became the sole distributor of Sokkisha instruments in the U.S. in 1970, and was acquired by that Japanese firm in 1984.
The Sokkisha Company began manufacturing transits in a small shop in Tokyo, in 1920, and eventually became the world’s largest manufacturer of surveying equipment. It introduced the Sokkia brand in 1990, and changed its corporate name to Sokkia in 1992, and became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Topcon in 2008.
Advertisements for the Lietz SET 4 noted that this model was especially affordable, and available under GSA contract. It featured 5-second accuracy in both vertical and horizontal angles, and a working range of up to 9,200 feet.
Currently not on view
Object Name
total station
date made
place made
overall: 10 in x 16 1/2 in; 25.4 cm x 41.91 cm
overall: 10 in x 17 in x 13 1/4 in; 25.4 cm x 43.18 cm x 33.655 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Federal Aviation Administration
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Measuring & Mapping
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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