No personal effect says “nerd” quite like a chunky electronic gadget strapped to your wrist. Since the 1970s, digital watchmakers have been happy to oblige the geek-inclined by churning out dozens upon dozens of wacky wristwatches that integrate various non-timekeeping functions with a standard LCD timepiece. The iconic calculator watch, my friends, is only the beginning.
In the gallery below, we’ll look at 12 of the nerdiest wrist clocks that the watch industry produced in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. This list is by no means complete, however; there are dozens more amazing nerd watches out there. So when you’re done reading, feel free to tell us about your all-time favorite portable timepieces in the comments.
(This story was originally published on June 18, 2011.)
A Flip-Top Database
Model: Casio FTP-30
In 1992, Casio made the ultimate watch for closet nerds. From the outside, it looks like a normal analog watch. Flip it open to reveal a secret digital memo device that stores contacts and notes and doubles as a calculator. It reminds me of Superman in reverse.
Photos: Casio Watch Collection (L), George Papay (R)
Transforming Robot Watch
Model: Takara Diaclone Kronoform Robot
During the Transformers craze of the 1980s, toy maker Takara released this nifty transforming watch robot. It starts as a rectangular digital wristwatch strapped on your arm, but with careful manipulation, it turns into a tiny humanoid robot with a clock in its chest.
Photo: 20th Century Toy Collector
The First Computer Watch
Model: Seiko Data 2000 / UC-2000
Year: 1983 / 1984
The Seiko Data 2000 functioned like a miniature wrist-mounted data storage device. To input data, the user set it on a special keypad that transferred your tip-tap typings to the Data 2000’s memory through magnetic pulses. The user could then view the data on the watch’s 4-by-10 character display at any time.
For the Seiko UC-2000 (released the next year), Seiko sold an enhanced keyboard that, when attached to the UC-2000 watch, would use the watch’s display like a computer terminal for BASIC programming and more.
Multiplayer Watch Gaming
Model: Casio Infraceptor JG-100
The Infraceptor let two users play a primitive fantasy combat game with each other via invisible IR beams transmitted between two watches. It also stored phone numbers, functioned as a stop watch, and—*gasp*—even told the time. It also came with another game, albeit undocumented: avoid confiscation from the teacher.
Photo: Vintage Computing and Gaming
The Stars Are Aligned
Model: Casio CGW-50 Cosmo Phase
If your job requires you to keep precise tabs on the positions of the planets of our solar system at any given time of the day, consider tracking down the Casio Cosmo Phase. Thanks to a special LCD display section at the top of the watch, you can track planetary positions (and the position of Halley’s Comet) at any given moment. Or you can read their configurations from the years 1901 to 2200. Very nerdy.
Model: Casio Data Bank DBA-800
Like other database watches of the 1980s, the DBA-800 stored a list of phone numbers for later use. But this one added a twist: If you held the DBA-800 up to a telephone mouth piece, the watch could dial out the selected number automatically for you thanks to its ability to emit touch-tone signals through a tiny built-in speaker.
Photo: Adam Harras / VintageLCD.com
Thermo-Scan Your Buddies
Model: Casio TSR-100 Thermo Scanner
Year: c. 1995
The Thermo Scanner was unique in the watch world because it incorporated a built-in directional IR thermometer. The user simply pointed the IR sensor at the target and held down the button for five seconds. Then the watch would take a remote temperature reading of the target’s surface and display it on the watch face—particularly handy for nerd coffee drinkers.
Photo: Nerd Watch Museum
Programmed by Light
Model: Timex Data Link 150
At first glance, the Timex Data Link appears similar to PDA-style data bank watches that came before it. But look closely, and you’ll notice a tiny hole near the top of the watch face. That hole is an optical sensor that, in conjunction with special software running on a Windows 95 PC, could download user data through pulsating horizontal lines on the user’s computer monitor. The user simply held the watch up to the screen, started the transfer, and the data would be transferred over to the watch wirelessly.
The Disembodied Voice
Model: Casio TM-100
The TM-100 allowed you to wirelessly transmit your voice to a nearby FM radio tuned to a certain frequency. Why? To freak out your friends during Casio-sponsored séances, of course!
Nintendo On Your Wrist
Model: Nelsonic Super Mario Bros. 3 Game Watch
No American kid in the early 1990s would pass up a chance to have a portable video game on their wrist, and that fact made Nelsonic’s line of Game Watches very successful. The company released tie-in LCD watch games for many Nintendo Entertainment System games like Super Mario Bros. 3, seen here. Each game could be played to completion using the watch’s tiny directional buttons.
Scientific Calculator Watch
Model: Citizen Quartz Crystron LC with Calculator (9140A)
Look closely: what first appears to be a circle of diamonds encrusting a golden watch face are actually calculator buttons. They’re scientific calculator buttons, in fact, that allowed the user to do some complex (and stylish) calculations on the go. Calculator watches are a dime a dozen, but the uniquely round Citizen 9140A seen here received a limited production in the hundreds of units, which makes it a prized collectors’ item today.
Photo: Heidi Rum-Tanaka
Model: Seiko TV Watch
When it comes to watches, the Seiko TV Watch was nothing less than a technological marvel. It allowed owners to view live broadcast TV on a tiny blue/gray LCD screen embedded into the watch face. The bulk of the unit’s tuning electronics were housed in an external box (it hooked to the watch for TV viewing via the black cable seen here), but that didn’t detract from Seiko’s achievement of creating a tiny portable TV wristwatch way back in 1982.
Source: PC Magazine |By Benj Edwards | 4/29/2017 | http://www.pcmag.com/feature/265834/12-ultra-nerdy-watches-of-yore
Micro Tech Resources | 26250 Industrial Blvd, Hayward, CA 94545 | 510.531.3582