Digital watches

Digital watches

Fashion Synopsis

“The Time Computer, no larger than a wristwatch. First completely new way to tell time in 500 years.”

Computers were poised to take over the world, or at least that’s what the 1983 movie WarGames was ready to tell you. The magic of computers was still an exciting new phenomenon, and everyone was a little unsure of what the crazy machines could really do, but the one thing that was certain was how cool a digital watch was. There was no little hand spinning round to leave you guessing, “Is that close to the two or the three?” What time was it exactly? And let’s not talk about counting seconds. Technology broke these barriers in 1972 when the digital watch gave us an LCD screen, with a projected to the minute, to the second time.

The pulsar, from HMW, was the first all-electronic wristwatch. The pulsar utilized LED (light-emitting diodes) that would light up as red digits at the push of a button. For a paltry $2100, a piece of the future—The Time Computer—was yours. Or you could wait a couple of years and buy the first watch ever made for under $20.

That watch was the latest in technological wizardry: the digital watch with the LCD (liquid crystal display). The new technology improved readability, reduced power consumption, and best off all, was continuous in display and did not require a button switch for time. Everyone was strapping on the simple metal band with the push-button knob and plenty of nifty features: a stopwatch, an alarm, a light switch when you were caught in the dark. Could it get any cooler?

This new-fangled contraption took the world by storm, and the foolproof timepiece promised the future. The next step was the handy calculator watch: the smallest calculator and computer in the world. Not just for pocket-protector wearing nerds, this seemingly harmless device—no larger than your wrist—created junior Einsteins in Algebra class. Okay, so that perfect score wasn’t because we memorized theorems, but wasn’t that what technology was for? Taking away all the boring work?

Over the years, digital watches came to feature everything from video games to data banks (to store telephone numbers and messages) to cool blue “Indiglo” lights, enough to make any traditionalist give up the hands for a tiny piece of the future. The digital watch catapulted science into a new realm, a constant reminder that one day, “Beam me up, Scotty” would be as casual as “Excuse me, sir, do you have the time?”

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