Is the Apple Watch the Original Smartwatch? No, There Actually Was One 30 Years Ago.

A Japanese watch manufacture launched a “wrist computer” in 1984.

Hiroshi Fukami
Hiroshi Fukami

Writer / Editor

He works as a freelance writer and editor. His diverse body of work is covered in From the Cradle to the Grave (Yurikago kara Hakaba Made). He enjoys watching J League soccer, baseball, mixed martial arts, and professional wrestling. He also enjoys video games, especially first person shooters, open-world role playing games, and fighting games. His current favorite is Ingress.

Remember the times in 1970s, when the ENIAC took the entire floor of a building? Since then the computer has been getting smaller and smaller. First it was the “desktop”, then the “handheld”, then the “laptop”, then the“tablet” and now it’s the era of the “wearable”. Google plans to launch Google Glass (I wonder when…? Will it ever be?) and Apple has launched the smartwatch “Apple Watch”.


Gadgets such as a computer in wristwatches or sunglasses are seen a lot with people like Tony Stark, and Bruce Wayne. The gadgets these heroes use, used to be a technology that was fiction, but thanks to the technology in the 21st century, they have become real.


But a Japanese watch manufacture “SEIKO” had launched probably the world’s first wristwatch computer the “UC-2000” in 1984. 1984 is well known as the year of the Los Angles Olympics, but in the IT world, Apple computer launched its first Macintosh.


“UC-2000” was able to connect with a keyboard, a printer and an external computer, and had applications such as showing results from a BASIC program, memo, schedule etc. CPU was 4 bit, and the memory was C-MOS RAM 2K byte. Comparing to nowadays gadgets… well it’s beyond comparison. The display size is about the same size as an Apple Watch (after all it’s a wristwatch, I guess they will all end up pretty much the same size), but UC-2000 is monochrome display, and the Apple Watch is full color display 312×390px. It’s almost like comparing a paper plane to the latest F-35.


But that doesn’t mean that the engineers from the watch manufactures from 30 years are not up for a challenges any more. It’s just that their dreams that they wished has become real today.


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