The history of the smart watch, part 2 – storage, programmability, multimedia, and communication

Yesterday, I covered the history of the smart watch from the 1940s slide rule watch, to the 1970s calculator watch, and dipped into the 1980s with musical and gaming watches.

However, while some of those watches had processing ability, it was very limited, not programmable, and transient – once you were done processing data, you got back to the clock functionality, and whatever you were doing was gone. But, with Japanese electronics makers competing, some real innovation started. Continue reading

The history of the smart watch, part 1 – calculation and entertainment

With the recent development of so-called “smart watches”, designed to communicate with modern smartphones to display notifications, and in many cases run various applications on the watch, I felt that it would be a good idea to document the history of the smart watch.

After all, the modern smart watch is far from a new idea – watches that could run user-installed software have existed since Seiko’s Wrist Information System in 1984, and notifications have been pushed to watches since Seiko’s Receptor in 1990, and Swatch’s the Beep in 1991.

I’m going to stretch the definition of smart watch a bit for this history – the definition I’m operating under is something like this: “A watch that has functions in addition to timekeeping-related functions, such as calculation, data storage, scheduling beyond an alarm, ability to load arbitrary code, music (beyond alarm tones) and/or video playback, or reception and/or transmission of radio signals for functions other than setting time.”

Also, due to the existence of various devices that have watch-like form factors, but are not meant to be worn as watches, I’m going to restrict this discussion to wrist watches. Continue reading