Time Barriers Broken


(L-R Top Row: Pocket Watch, Samsung Galaxy Gear – Side View, Samsung Galaxy Gear – Front View, Dick Tracy, Second Row: Rolex, Sony SmartWatch 2)

We live in a fast-paced mobile society that scarcely resembles the society in which our parents imagined or lived – or does it? You might be surprised. Here’s a retrospective review of wrist-worn technology.


Spring-powered pocket watches first date back to the 1500’s –crude by today’s standards and prone to be inaccurate. Chronographs, watches with unique add-on functions like stop watch, calendar date, moon phases, and more, have been around since 1816, generally very accurate, and are often very expensive. Priced a Rolex lately?

In 1893, with the adoption of the General Railroad Timepiece Standards, developed for pocket watches worn by railroad conductors and engineers, uniform technology standards to synchronize time measurements along long travel distances was first introduced. This standards adoption revolutionized personal time devices – only 120 years ago!

By the 1920’s, wrist-worn watches outpaced pocket watch sales. Until the 1970’s all wrist watches were analog, spring-powered devices. With the introduction of microchip technology, many watches have now incorporated elements of digital technology including LCD displays and battery-powered operations.

Imagination and Science Fiction

October 4, 1931, the newspaper comic strip Dick Tracy, created by Chester Gould, was among the first to imagine science fiction wrist worn devices. Gould introduced a novel two-way wrist radio in 1948, which allowed Detective Tracy to communication with his police headquarters. This device evolved into a two-way wrist TV by 1964, which brought miniaturized video camera and a video screen. Then by 1987, the wrist-worn device had evolved into being a two-way wrist computer. One has to wonder how this comic strip inspired wearable device engineers.


These are interesting times for wrist-worn devices. It is inevitable that smart phone technology will migrate to these devices.

By October 2, 2013 – nearly 82 years to the day when Gould introduced the two-way wrist radio in a comic strip, T-Mobile will offer the Samsung Galaxy Gear Smartphone. It will compete immediately with the new Sony SmartWatch 2.

Lurking in the weeds are rumors of Apple, Android, and Google watches, too.

Of course, these wrist-worn devices will interactively interface with your smartphone, essentially giving the user a second smart monitor. With Internet connectivity – in one form or another – Gould’s dream becomes reality.

The question is not “if” you will buy one of these devices. The question becomes: “when” will you buy one of these devices? Will you be an early adopter?

Author: HorneMobile

World Traveler. Novelist with a day job. SME on supply chain solutions. SME on supply chain mobility. SME on Enterprise ERP solutions.

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