Gary Burrell was born in 1937. He earned a degree in Electrical Engineering from Wichita State University and a master's degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Burrell worked for Lowrance Electronics and King Radio Corporation. In the early 1980s, he worked for Allied Signal.
Along with partner Min Kao, Burrell founded Garmin in 1989 to make navigation devices for aviation and boating using the Global Positioning System. Their original office was two folding chairs and a card table. Some U.S. servicemen used Garmin GPS during the first Gulf War, even though Garmin never had a military contract. Later on, the Technology was expanded for the U.S. market, providing directions across all United States roads and highways.