The first floats were constructed and tested by Swallow and Stommel.
1960s and 1970s
RAFOS floats began to be used in the late 1980s. These could be tracked using satellite systems, which greatly increased float life and the range over which floats could be traced.
The potential of floats to obtain more data than just ocean current trajectories was realised and some floats were adapted to take additional measurements including temperature and vertical water velocities.
Technology progressed quickly in the late 1980s/early 1990s with autonomous float deployments reaching a global scale, firstly with the ALACE float and then the MARVOR and PROVOR floats.
The goal of developing a global array of 3000 profiling floats was reached in 2000.
Float technology continues to be improved and advanced with changes in communication systems and sensors.