Who invented the first Smart Watch (Invention Timeline Explained)

These days, smart watches have become a trend amongst many gadget lovers. The increasing popularity of these wearable devices isn’t unwarranted, as they provide benefits apart from telling the time, such as being a reliable tracker for fitness or remaining connected even when doing activities. They’re also highly customizable devices, making them invaluable tools, from business people to athletes. However, the modern smart watch wouldn’t be what it is today without its predecessors. And in this piece, we’ll talk about the first smart watch in history and explore the timeline of its evolution. 

Who invented the first smart watch?

Timex, with the help of Microsoft developed the first smart watch known as the Datalink 150. While a lot of people know Apple as the developers of the most popular smart watches, the very first smart watch predated Apple smart watches by over a dozen years.

The smart watch’s key contributors

  • Hamilton Watch and Electro/ Data Incorporated
    Responsible for the creation of the original digital watch called Pulsar.

    Hamilton Watch and Electro/Data Incorporated were responsible for the creation of Pulsar, a digital watch that was wrapped in gold and priced at $2,100 at the time.

  • Seiko
    Created the T001 in 1983, the Data 2000 around the same time, the RC-1000 a year after and the RC-20 in 1985. 

    The T001 could be linked to portable television receivers and was popularized in the film, Octopussy. The Data 2000, as its name suggests, could store two thousand characters via external keyboards. And the RC-20 is a wrist computer that has applications like a calculator, memos, and scheduling.

  • Timex 
    Developed the first wireless smart watch. 

    With the assistance of Microsoft, Timex had developed the Datalink, a watch that could download data wirelessly. It is touted as a scientific hallmark and even employed in space missions by NASA.

  • Steve Mann
    Steve Mann, a pioneer inventor, created a linux smart watch before anyone else 1998.

    After the creation of the initial linux smart watch, Steve Mann was hailed as wearable computing’s father. He made other contributions to technology later one, such as HDR imaging.

  • IBM
    Made the Watchpad in 2000, their prototype smart watch running the Linux system. 

    The original Watchpad was revolutionary but also lacking. For this reason, IBM upgraded the model a year later with a mechanism for vibration, fingerprint sensor, and accelerometer. 

  • Microsoft
    Released the SPOT smart watch—Smart Personal Objects Technology—in 2004. 

    The SPOT smart watch is considered by many to be the precursor to IoT and wearables. However, due to a few bad decisions, it wasn’t as successful as it should have been.

When was the smart watch invented?

The very first smart watch was developed by Microsoft and Timex in 1994.

A brief history of the smart watch

There’s no denying the challenges the smart watch market has faced in the past, from their design limitations and limited battery life to a lack of killer applications. For this reason, the devices and their predecessors—wrist computers—have had a reluctant revolution. Even the introduction of Microsoft’s SPOT smart watch did little to make the devices mainstream. It wasn’t until 2015 that they were considered to be more than simple toys for only the tech enthusiasts.

Apple has managed to change the entire market landscape, and its impact has been more than a little profound. In 2014, the total global sales amounted to 4.2 million. However, the following year, it became 19.4 million, the same year that Apple’s Series 0 was released. Some sources would say that Apple had accounted for at least 11 million, which is why smart watches have become as popular as they are now.

The smart watch timeline

  1. 1972
    The first digital electronic watch, the Pulsar, is released.

    When Hamilton Watch and Electro/ Data Incorporated marketed the Pulsar, it came with a case that was made out of 18-carat gold. It was also the first to use digital displays using LEDs.

  2. 1983 – 1985
    Seiko came out with the T001, Data 2000, RC-1000, and RC-20 models.

    Seiko revolutionized everything with the development and release of their models during the mid-80s.

  3. 1994
    Timex released the Datalink wristwatch.

    Timex releases its famous Datalink wristwatch, a device capable of wireless downloading.

  4. 1998 
    The first linux-based smart watch is released.

    Steve Man creates the very first smart watch that runs on linux.

  5. 2000 – 2002 
    IBM comes out with the WatchPad. 

    IBM’s line of predecessors to the smart watch are produced.

  6. 2004
    Microsoft’s SPOT is released. 

    The Smart Personal Objects Technology or SPOT by Microsoft is released. But due to poor decisions, it fails to succeed.

Where was the smart watch invented?

The first smart watch was invented in connecticut. The interesting thing about the first smart watch is how it heralded so many other brands and models, yet didn’t experience the same amount of popularity as the rest.

The importance of the smart watch

  • An invaluable tool for health and fitness

    Many smart watches come with a bevy of features for health, wellness, and fitness. For example, they can monitor your heart rate using your wrist, allowing you to stay on top of your vitals whenever you exercise. Some are even powered by artificial intelligence and can detect potentially abnormal rhythms.

  • Respond to calls and messages immediately

    Having a smart watch on your wrist means that you don’t have to take your smartphone out. You can respond to calls and messages immediately, and this can be especially helpful when you’re exercising or engaged in an activity that keeps you from using your phone.

  • It can keep you connected longer

    While the batteries of the older smart watches were severely limited, newer models have batteries that even smartphones can’t compare with. Pebble’s smart watch, for example, can go for ten days without a need for a charge, and many other models have exceptional lifespans too.

Smart watch by the numbers

  • 4The number of primary functions of the smart watch. It includes health applications, sleep monitoring, heart rate tracking, and tracking steps.
  • 2 x 3The measurement in inches of each folding screen in the IBM patented smart watch with a folding display.
  • 3000 – 4000The average number of steps an American takes a day, something that smart watches can easily track.

Five facts about the smart watch

  • Inspired primarily by science fiction

    In the fifties, the concept behind smart watches were only found within sci-fi novels. Many authors of the time gave their characters computers they could wear on their wrists to help them in their actions and adventures. In the past, they felt so unrealistic that many thought they could only exist in fiction, but much like many other pieces of technology, they’ve been proven wrong. 

  • They’ve become fashion pieces

    Before, traditional time-keeping devices used to be acceptable to wear depending on the occasion. However, smart watches have changed all of that. Nowadays, people no longer have to think twice with wearing their smart watches. Moreover, there’s been a more conscious effort from brands to ensure that the devices are fashionable and chic to make them more desirable.

  • They’re popular in fitness

    Due to the technology of these wearable devices, smart watches are primarily used in fitness. After all, even basic devices come with features that can track the user’s activity with incredible accuracy, whether you’re running, swimming, cycling or performing any other sport.

  • They can encourage being mindful

    Smart watches can encourage you to be more mindful because of features that can remind users to perform specific tasks. While smartphones also have this option, the fact that they’re on your wrist means that you’re more likely to perform the action.

  • They only started getting popular during the 2010s

    While smart watches now dominate the market today, they’ve only grown in popularity during the 2010s. Many companies have tried to make the devices more mainstream since the seventies but it was only in 2015 that they did, thanks to Apple.

FAQ about smart watches

  • When was the smart watch originally developed?

    The first smart watch dates back to the seventies when Hamilton Watch and Electro/ Data Incorporated came out with the Pulsar, which many consider to be the original digital watch. Throughout the eighties, Seiko came out with its own line, followed by many other companies like Timex, IBM, and Microsoft.

  • Will smart watches replace smartphones?

    While it’s undoubtedly true that smart watches can do many of the same functions of smartphones, it’s unlikely that it’ll replace them anytime soon. The reason for this is that their smaller size means that they can’t do all of the tasks you can on your smartphone, such as watching videos or browning the internet. However, they could potentially replace traditional watches.

  • Is it worth owning a smart watch?

    Getting the best value for your smartphone will depend on whether or not you’ll be using it more than your smartphone. If you’re in the fitness industry or enjoy exercising, a smart watch may benefit you.

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