A calculator watch is a digital watch with a calculator built into it, usually including buttons on the watch face. They have existed since the 1970s, and continue to be produced, though their heyday was the early to mid-1980s. The most notable brand is the Casio Databank series.
Calculator watches first appeared in the Mid 1970s introduced by Pulsar (1975, then a brand of the Hamilton Watch Company) and Hewlett Packard. Several watch manufacturers have made calculator watches over the years, but the Japanese electronics company Casio produced the largest variety of models. Thus, Casio is considered the main player in CWs. In the mid-1980s, Casio created the Databank calculator watch, which not only performed calculator functions, but also stored appointments, names, addresses, and phone numbers. Currently, Casio sells only a few "pure" CWs (e.g. CA-53W) and considers a calculator as merely a function on their Databank watches. The eData version of its Data Bank watch, featuring the aforementioned storage capabilities, also has greater memory and the ability to store computer passwords.
When mass-produced calculator watches appeared in the early 1980s (with the most being produced in the middle of the decade), the high-tech community's demand created a "feature war" of one-up-manship between watch manufacturers (e.g. the Casio scientific calculator watch CFX-400 in 1985) and were considered fashionable or hip to some people. As an example of CWs as a fashion accessory, in the cover The Police’s single Wrapped Around Your Finger, front man Sting can be seen with his arms folded, proudly sporting a black plastic Casio calculator watch. However, as the novelty of this new electronic fad watch wore off, they became, much like pocket protectors and thick glasses, associated with nerds and today are no longer considered to be in vogue. Depictions of calculator watches in today’s media abound, but with no single type of wearer. For example, Al, the seemingly normal middle-aged pilot in the Tom Hanks film Cast Away is seen wearing one as he’s pouring a cup of coffee right before the crash scene. Also, Marty McFly in the Back to the Future series can be seen wearing one in the first two films. As a homage to this stereotype, Dwight Schrute, playing the egomaniacal and nerdy character on NBC's American version of The Office, can be seen wearing a Casio Data Bank watch. Current users of calculator watches are more common among the trades and technical fields. Heavy Metal lead singer Rob Halford of Judas Priest wears calculator watches as seen in interviews possibly insuring the watches popularity. Even Mr Bean wore one during his Live TV Series. More recently, Walter White, the main character of the AMC TV series Breaking Bad, can be seen wearing a calculator watch throughout the series, as well as in the videogame Grand Theft Auto V in which one of the main protagonists, Trevor Phillips uses one as his signature.
The future of the calculator watch as a practical and useful electronic device has been impacted by the introduction of PDAs, cell phones, and other powerful multi-functional compact computing devices. Another technical drawback facing digital watches are their small monochromatic LCD displays and hard-to-use miniature buttons. Both of these input/output bottlenecks further alienate calculator watches from multimedia applications. On the other hand, one could also argue that advances in electronics, RFID, and voice recognition could result in several qualities of the PDAs, cell phones, and other powerful and compact computing devices being incorporated into a watch format—a Wrist PDA or more complex wearable computer—just as the Data Bank absorbed the calculator function, TV controller, and camera in some CW models. PCOnHand.com offered a PC/PDA/calculator wrist watch but, as of April 7, 2006 has ceased selling this device.
However, calculator watches can serve a useful practice while traveling to calculate conversion rates between currencies. Due to their relative low cost, they are far more practical for travellers who do not want to risk losing expensive cell phones.
- Nelsonic game watch - Multipurpose wrist-watches allowing the wearer to play micro video games, these units were the technological descendants of the calculator watch and were patented under calculator watch patents.
- Programmable calculators - Specifications and descriptions
- WATCH. History of the modern wrist watch. - Section on Calculator Watches
- Vintage Digital Watches - Home of Vintage Retro Digital LCD Watches