The North American Aerospace Defense Command Santa tracker is the oldest and most popular Santa tracker. Other sites that provide Santa trackers include Google and SantaUpdate.com. Some of the sites, such as Google and NORAD, have created phone and tablet apps to track Santa on the go. In addition to tracking Santa, many of the sites and apps feature Christmas-themed games and activities for children.
The NORAD Santa Tracker began in 1955 when an advertiser misprinted a phone number. Children began calling the defense line expecting to be able to talk to Santa. Colonel Harry Shoup answered the first call and, according to his children, thought it was a joke, until the child began to cry. When calls continued to come in, he tasked several men to answer the phone and report the location of Santa Claus to the children.
Every Christmas Eve, the NORAD Santa tracker website receives about 9 million unique hits from over 200 countries, as of 2015. Updates on the whereabouts of Santa are also provided via telephone and email. According to the NORAD site, volunteers receive more than 12,000 emails and 70,000 phone calls every year. As technology has evolved, so has the NORAD Santa tracker. Users can now track Santa through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.