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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Google Android Sony SmartWatch apes HP-01 LED watch from 1977

Sony ships Android-Powered SmartWatch, MaximumPC, Jul. 2012, p. 9

PHOTO: The new Google Android Sony SmartWatch apes the HP-01 from 1977. It was featured in the magazine article "Sony ships Android-Powered SmartWatch," MaximumPC, Jul. 2012, p. 9 posted online as "Sony's Android Powered SmartWatch Now Shipping in the U.S," Apr. 13, 2012. Also see the Sony SmartWatch Product Page.

HP-01 calculator watch LED display that consumed batteries quickly and small keys that required a stylus to press PHOTO: The HP-01 LED display calculator watch was first produced in 1977 shortly after the successful launch of HP handheld calculator division in 1972, but it was quickly made obsolete by LCD display watches that used less battery power and that could last for years without recharging or replacing the batteries. HP was working on an LCD version when the project was cancelled during a slump in business. See the "HP-01," The Museum of HP Calculators accessed Jun. 27, 2012 and Hewlett-Packard's museum display of the HP-01 wrist instrument, 1977 at accessed Jun. 27, 2012

Timex calculator sports watch, manufactured around 1990 PHOTO: The Timex calculator sports watch, manufactured around 1990, proved to be a more practical calculator watch because it had buttons big enough to press and a LCD display that conserved battery power enough to be able to run for years without recharging or replacing the battery.

When all the projects at the HP calculator division were cancelled by top management in 1982, I recall being part of the engineering team asked to present new product ideas for possible funding. I had just read the AT&T Bell Labs journal article on the new cell phone technology they planned to roll out in 1984. I immediately saw that the cell phone would be a perfect product to combine with the HP handheld computer technology. My management chain approved me to show it to show top HP mangers as one of three proposals. I later learned that they did this because they had been asked to present one short term project idea, one long term project idea and one futuristic project idea. Of course, if I had known this was the reason, I would have been crushed because I took the idea seriously. In fact, when I presented the idea for combining HP handheld computer technology with a cell phone to access data, one Vice President of HP laughed out loud and immediately dismissed the idea. I would love to meet him today and tell him I was right and then shove Steve Job's Apple iPhone in his face. Of course, I am sure he would remind me of how I precociously told him that he was crazy to think touch computers would be the wave of the future. We were both a little off in our timing for predictions of the future.

Needless to say, I a sorry that I am now too blind to appreciate these new small smart devices, but I still dream of a day when they become accessible to people with any disability. Hopefully, this will happen before I die!