Invention of DIGITAL WATCH (1970) (Hamilton Watch Company develops a space-age time piece)

The first wrist-worn timepiece to tell the time digitally was the Hamilton Watch Company’s “Pulsar”.  This 18-carat-gold cased device used a red LED display to tell the user what time it was in clean, crisp, twentieth century digits at the push of a simple button and retailed for a cool $2100.  Teething problems meant the Pulsar did not become commercially available until 1972, but when it was released, it caused many to think that the end had come for conventional dial face watches with mechanical movements.  Hamilton claimed that their inspiration for developing a digital watch was the futuristic digital clock that they had created for the 1968 film 2001:A space Odyssey.

The only problem with the Pulsar was the hefty accompanying price tag-although many would argue that $2100 was cheap for the opportunity to look like James Bond wearing a swanky gold digital watch.  The answer for those who did not want to pay so much for a watch came from Texas Instruments, who introduced a plastic-strapped version that retailed for just $20 in 1975 and soon after dropped to $10.  This spelled the end for Hamilton and led to them becoming a subsidiary of Seiko.

Developments in digital watches continued over the next three decades and included the use of liquid crystal displays to replace light-emitting diodes (which could not always be left on due to their high level of power consumption) in the early 1970s.  Throughout the 1980s many amazing innovations were incorporated into the digital display, including thermometers, language translators, calculators and even miniature televisions.

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