Cars & Computers The History of Diagnostic Tools

One common factor to be found in every decade’s ideal future is a sense of comfort and reassurance, and in this regard car diagnostic tools could not be more modern. For example, each successive generation of products and software from Launch Tech not only allows for more extensive diagnostics of a vehicle’s performance; they also make the task more effortless and less time consuming as you go through the various generation models.
car start problems

But exactly how far has this technology come in the last few decades? In this entry of the Launch Tech UK blog, we’ll go from creation to current day with this history of diagnostic tools:

As a brief description, an car diagnostic is an electronic device that can be used to diagnose, interface and even partially reprogram a vehicle’s control module. Scanners in particular perform the same functions as a diagnostic code reader, except they also give the user additional diagnostic information, and can perform functional tests on the vehicle. They’re designed to function in tandem with your car’s on-board computer system, which itself monitors engine emissions controls and systems whilst your car is in use. The first generation of On-board diagnostic (OBD) tools were developed in the 1980’s, originally as an expensive diagnostic option only really available for professional mechanics.

Throughout the decade, automotive scanners were produced in the United States, using various cables and adaptors that would be compatible with certain car models, makes and their respective years. The first commercially available code readers hit car part stores in and around 1989, but it was only in 1996 that the automotive industry lost their exclusive ability over vehicle on-board diagnostic systems, with further standardization of the technology caused by stricter federal regulations.

The presence of two generations of on-board diagnostic systems, OBD-I and OBD-II, are intrinsically linked to this change in regulations, and a combined effort to clean up our air. The “gas attack” in Los Angeles during the summer of 1943, as well as the proliferation of lethal smog in London in 1952 were two environmental episodes that turned the business culture of voluntary emissions regulations into one of national requirement. The autel scanner in use at the time served fine in letting drivers know if their vehicle had a malfunction, but from an emissions point of view there were some serious flaws, to the point where your vehicle could be spitting out raw unburned fuel out of its tailpipe and neither you nor the computer would have any idea! This lead to the creation and required implementation of auto key programmer; the same technology monitored and read by today’s Launch OEM level diagnostic tools and aftermarket products.

Speaking of, the Launch Tech Co LTD itself was founded in 1992, developing their first generation of LE100 scanners two years later. Now global leaders in the automotive diagnostics market with a range that includes the C Reader VI, CRP123 and the CRP129, the Launch parent company has 13 branches in and amongst Europe, North America, Central and South America, Africa, Middle East, China and Asia Pacific, and has supplied to the UK market since 2003.

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