Electric Autopilots might not have been around in the 1960s but solar panels certainly were. The concept of generating electricity from sunlight dates back to 1836, and the solar cells we recognise were invented in 1941, shortly after the transistor, and were widely used in the space industry from the 1950s onwards.
Golden Globe skippers have made great use of them, fitting them on coachroofs, companionway hatches, decks and even down the side of cockpit coamings. They also play an important safety role. Time will tell whether these panels are robust enough to be kicked and stamped on for nine months and how much power they produce from the often overcast skies in the Southern Ocean, but with diesel fuel limited to 40 gallons on each boat, solar panels play a vital role in keeping communication systems going.