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Friday, September 26, 2014

Apple watch apes 1970’s HP watch

HP-01 calculator wristwatch advertisement from 1977

PHOTO: Hewlett-Packard model HP-01 calculator wristwatch advertisement from 1977. See previous posts HP calculator wristwatch 1977 vs. Timex 1994 (11/9/10) and Google Android Sony SmartWatch apes HP-01 LED watch from 1977 (7/1/12).

I had to laugh at the recent news of Apple introducing a watch because over thirty years ago Steve Jobs made lucrative job offers to Hewlett-Packard's Corvallis Division engineers, who had designed HP's first watch and personal computer, which motivated one HP engineering project manager to join Jobs in inventing the first Apple Macintosh computer.

The HP-01 watch's battery life was much too short, just like Apple's is today, because it used an LED display, and its poor sales caused the cancellation of a more practical version using LCD displays that were still under development in Corvallis for HP calculators.

Today, a cloud-connected watch is still not technically practical (e.g. Apple requires a cellphone tethered to each watch) and the technological inventions required have only recently started showing up in academic engineering and science journals available in the Oregon State University library.

(Quoted from Thomas Kraemer, "Letter: Long, Ago Jobs tried to get HP to develop a computer watch," Gazette-Times, Fri. Sep. 26, 2014, p. A9)

See my previous post Patent laws being abused by Apple iPhone claims (8/28/12) that includes the text of my previous letter to the editor where I said, "Motorola described their soon-to-be-released cell phone invention in a 1982 Bell System Journal technical paper. In response, as an HP research project manager, I initiated a partnership with Motorola to integrate cell phones with already existing HP handheld computer technology. . . . After HP cancelled my project, I personally showed a prototype cell phone computer to Apple founder Steve Jobs at a trade show in Silicon Valley while he was successfully recruiting a few key HP engineers to start up his Apple portable product line. (I was too stupid to take his job offer!)”

Apple CEO Tim Cook in an interview with BusinessWeek described how Apple was moving from a model of functional departments (e.g. product research, marketing, etc.), which Steve Jobs acted as the orchestrator over (a model he had copied from his idols Bill and Dave, founders of Hewlett-Packard) to one of a more business team model where each team is responsible for both the technical and end customer experience (something HP struggled to do later in its history). Cook also said:

With the watch, most companies -- you can just tell from what’s out there in the marketplace --they just take what’s there, like a phone UI [user interface], and strap it on the wrist, and it becomes a smartwatch. And we knew that wouldn’t work. The screen is too small. It obstructs the view. And so a lot of thinking went in about how to solve that issue. And I think we have come up with a way that not only makes it usable, but it makes it brilliant.

I love operating my Apple TV from the watch. I don’t have to worry anymore about the remote falling through the cushions of the sofa. . . .

(Q: You’ve said that you wanted to move the default of the company to open. What does that mean, exactly? )

My opinion was that our default [setting] was closed on everything. I’m not talking about closed operating system. I’m talking about closed in the communication area. And so it was, “Just be quiet. Just say nothing, and only talk about things that are completed.”

My view is that that doesn’t work in things involving social responsibility. On social responsibility things, only talking about them after they occur because some are long-term journeys. So we’ve been very open and communicating loudly about our views around the environment, around human rights, around diversity, around gay rights, which is a part of human rights, . . .

(Q: Did you meet any internal resistance when you published your diversity report?)

There was quite a discussion about whether we should do that or not. And my view was, “Wait a minute. I’ve said I’m going to be 100 percent transparent on all these things that are not about future road maps.” You know, future [product] road maps, I’d like to find a way to be more secretive. You know? Unfortunately the rumor mill goes a little beyond me. But yes, there was a view that we shouldn’t. I didn’t agree at the end of the day, and I feel great that we published. It clearly says we’re not perfect. We’re not a perfect company, and we’ve got work to do. And that’s fine.

(Q: What specifically are you doing to rectify the gender imbalance at the company?)

We promoted Denise Young Smith to run HR because she’s the best. We recruited Lisa Jackson because she was the best to run our environmental initiatives, and she’s superb. She’s off the charts. And so the number of females at the top of the company’s changed dramatically.

We just brought Sue Wagner on the board a few weeks ago.

(Quoted from Brad Stone and Josh Tyrangiel, "Q&A Tim Cook Q&A: The Full Interview on iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch," posted Sept. 19, 2014)

See the following related links of interest:

An an unrelated note (I’m too lazy to write another post, but the defunding of OSU during the Republican Reagan era continues and a recent interview with OSU President Ed Ray discusses this issue along with comments on how the cultural centers are intended to help increase the graduation rates amongst a more diverse student population. (See James Day, "Q & A with OSU President Ed Ray," posted Sep. 18, 2014)

Of course, this raises the question that nobody likes to discuss out loud, which is does OSU lower its standards to increase graduation rates because it is good for business? When the college was state funded, anybody could attend, but only those worthy of a degree got one. In fact, in the engineering college, which was mostly male professors and students, there was a certain macho pride that came from the fact that the majority of freshman students would not graduate in engineering -- in fact, many department secretaries kept out stacks of transfer form to s change majors from engineering to liberal arts!

Amusingly, and coincidentally, an amusing letter to the editor touching on the subject of OSU becoming more like a corporation, instead of a public university, was published by Michael Coolen, "Never mind ‘Town ‘n’ Gown’; we’re seeing rise of ‘Town ‘n’ Suits,’" posted September 17, 2014.