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A total station is a theodolite equipped with an electronic distance measuring instrument. As such, it measures horizontal angles, vertical angles, and distances. Zeiss began making total stations in 1968. Elta, the Zeiss term for these instruments, stands for "electronic tacheometer." The Elta 46 had an angular accuracy of ±3 seconds, an infrared light source, and a range of 1.2 miles. New, it cost $12,483.The Arizona State Office of the federal Bureau of Land Management purchased this example in 1983, the year it was introduced, and used it for cadastral surveys on the Navajo Indian Reservation.
The signature reads "ZEISS Elta 46 West Germany 154655." An auxiliary tag reads "U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT 0266471."Ref: Zeiss, Operating Instructions for Elta 46 Electronic Tacheometer (1983).Dick Thomas, "Surveying the Navajo Nation," American Congress on Surveying and Mapping Bulletin 86 (1983): 17-18 and front cover.