Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Hewlett-Packard HP-01

Louis Westphalen has published a fascinating article on Hewlett-Packard's 1977 'smartwatch'.

"...it is 1977, quartz watches are still less than 10 years old; it's the year Star Wars hit theatres for the first time... and you are looking at... nothing less than the most technically advanced wristwatch ever produced."

"Remember the Casio calculator watch? – the HP-01 could be considered its mastermind ancestor, reaching an unprecedented level of complication, back in 1977. Its technical feast has to be put in perspective: imagine fitting three batteries, and six chips in a wristwatch some 30-plus years ago! As its advertising puts it: "With the HP-01, you can compute and then count down the time it takes for a command to reach a spacecraft several hundred million miles away.""

"The 7-digit screen has the bright red LED display that were popular in the 1970s. To compute all its functions, it featured a 28-button keyboard; you could access to the main six functions with a tap of your fingertip. For the remaining 22 actionable buttons you needed a stylus. HP engineers had found a very astute way to always have the stylus handy, is ingeniously fitted into the bracelet buckle."

"The HP-01 definitely qualifies as bulky on the wrist (it's a massive 40 mm x 45 mm x 15 mm). It is not on the light side, weighing a respectable 170 grams or 6 ounces. At the time it was introduced, it was sold for $695 on its steel bracelet – more than a Rolex."

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