The Fantastic Wrist Gadgets That Came Way Before The Smartwatch

The Fantastic Wrist Gadgets That Came Way Before The Smartwatch

Humans have been putting technology on their wrists for a long time — and not just to tell the time. The Apple Watch and others are just the latest in a long line of wrist-borne devices, so here’s a brief history of “watches” that were smart for their time too.

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An AK-39, a German pilot and navigator’s wrist compass, from World War II.

Picture: Bonhams

The Steineck ABC wrist watch cam, which was used by German spies in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Picture: International Spy Museum//Cristina Arias/Cover/Getty Images

Dick Tracy wrist radios from 1947-1990.

Picture: Heritage Auctions

Picture: Heritage Auctions

An invention by Fritz Harbach: a contact plate worn like a wrist watch gives an electric shock to any attacker, 1949.

Picture: Albert Riethausen/AP

1949: Cledo Brunetti, associate director of Stanford Research Institute, wearing his invention — a tiny radio broadcasting unit.

Picture: AP

Here’s an awesome spy gadget: A field strength indicator for the Telefunken PE-484 direction finder from the late 1950s, intended for tracking down clandestine radio stations.

Picture: Crypto Museum

A Panasonic R-72S Toot-a-Loop Bracelet Radio, made in Japan circa 1972.

Picture: Attila Nagy/Gizmodo

1981: A small, battery-powered self-protection device, designed to drive off attackers with electric shock, developed by scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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1999: The Wristphone by NTT, unveiled at the Demo99 conference in Indian Wells, California.

Picture: Getty Images

2000: CASIO’s WMP-1V Wrist Audio Player, the world’s first wrist-worn MP3 player.

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Another CASIO product from 2000: The PC-UNITE BZX-20 data viewer that can store and display contacts, calendar, and PIM (Personal Information Management) data downloaded from a computer using infrared.

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2000: A wrist transmitter introduced by Hyland Hills Water World in Federal Heights, Colorado. The wireless tracking system lets parents pinpoint the location of their children to within ten feet — anywhere on the park’s 64 acres.

Picture: Kevin Higley/AP

The Fossil Wrist PDA running Palm OS in 2003.

Picture: Danski14/Wikimedia Commons

2010s: The Zypad WR1100 and WL11XX rugged wrist-worn personal computers integrate GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth/Zigbee, biometric sensor, and a digital compass.

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Picture: Eurotech

2010: TheSpecOps Systems WC2 wearable military computer system with iKey KYB-170-OEM keypad.

Picture: iKey

A Marine checks his Altimaster-2 MA2-30 altimeter during a jump exercise on February 18, 2014.

Picture: Cpl. Austin Long/Marine Corps

January 6, 2015: The launch of the Nixie wrist wearable quadcopter drone camera at International CES in 2015.

Picture: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Here’s an odd one: The “Snore stopper” wristband, which claims to help you stop snoring with a “natural Bio-feedback technique.”

Picture: Amazon