this was the HP-01 Wirst Instrument

If you are with someone, if possible millennial or whatever comes before, play something: let him close his eyes and say the first thing that comes to mind when he hears “calculator watch“. Many of us think of ‘Casio’ in the first thousandth of a second, but in reality the honors of pioneering this striking product go to others, including Hewlett-Packard (when it was only one.

While watches like the Casio CA-50 (the one in ‘Return to the future‘) emerged in the mid-1980s, the manufacturers who started this trend were Calcron, Pulsar (a brand of present-day Hamilton) and Hewlett-Packard (HP). And of the latter the HP-01 wrist instrument, because it was called like that, without even having the word “clock” in its name.

Latest technology (from before) at the price of a folding device (from now)

From today’s perspective, it is very curious to read the brochure (well, the December 1977 Hewlett-Packard Journal article) on the HP-01. Especially reading that it was “the first of a new generation of” wrist instruments “(perhaps the” great-term “of wearables), when HP cut off the tap in relation to these types of products, which were also rather a luxury product.

Who can now afford a foldable device like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2, at that time they could have afforded an HP-01

In fact, apparently some were made 50,000 units and half were bought by an Arab sheikh. Although in this case it was not something prohibitive as some collector’s items O limited editions of luxury cars: the starting price was 650 dollars, which if we take into account inflation would be about $ 2,089.44 today.

Hp 01 Sales Kit This is how the HP-01 Wirst Instrument was delivered. Picture: Iconeek

That is, who can now afford a folding device As the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2, at that time an HP-01 could be allowed. It was almost “cheap” Taking into account that the Hamilton Pulsar Time Computer, which we mentioned in the introduction, cost 2,100 dollars in 1972, that is, about 13,307.22 today taking into account inflation.

Six functions and four types of numbers

What was the HP-01 doing? I had six functions: give time, alarms, stopwatch / timer, calculator, calendar and memory. It had a total of 28 keys, and it is not surprising that they seem too small to press on your finger because there were only six designed for this, the rest were operated with a pointer that was incorporated into the strap buckle, or well with a pen that was delivered together with the watch.

The microprocessor of this watch had 38,000 transistors (the Apple A14, the processor of the iPhone 12, has 11,800 million). Four types of data could be entered: decimal numbers (from “.0000001” to “9999999.”) and integers, dates, time intervals and hours, hence we see specific keys for bars or colons.

The screen was and LED of red numbers on a black background (very ‘Fantastic car‘all), which could fit nine digits (it could show powers of ten with scientific notation, with mantissa, comma, sign and exponent, although it was not a scientific calculator). An LED because the LCD was yet to come, to end up dominating the field in digital watches, calculators and many other devices.

Regarding its calculation functions, the HP-01 could perform algebraic calculations, although following step by step the procedure for introducing operations. And what stood out a lot is that it integrated a 200-year calendar, which may be valid if some HP-01 continues to work since it collected from January 1, 1900 to December 21, 2099.

Small, but solid

Although it may look like a fairly standard-sized watch in the photos, it was a good piece. The HP-01 weighed 170 grams and its volume was 16 cubic centimeters. To give you an idea, in terms of dimensions it came to be somewhat more compact than the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 41 millimeters (it is about 16.7 cm³), but it was literally like wearing a Xiaomi Mi 11 5G on the wrist (weighs 169 grams).

It was made of steel, but the keys showed different colors depending on the model. In this one of Keith Midson They were white and red, but where it appears in the book Core Memory from Mark Richards those functional keys are amber.

El HP-01 it was not the success in sales expected, but despite this over time it has become a collector’s item, of which Hewlett-Packard itself keeps a copy in your museum. He is perhaps less remembered than the Cassios, but in a way he made history, reaching Be considered “the father of the LED watches of the 70”.

Image | Iconeek

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