Did you know: Microsoft and Timex made a smart watch... in 1994!7
A few example applications one could load on the "MS smart watch '94" include a simple chronograph (stop-watch), a notepad capable of storing 40 words, and a Space Invaders clone. Over the years, developers came up with additional video games, screen savers, golf score keepers, device adjustment tools (display contrast and scrolling speed adjustments), moon phase calculators, and other good stuff – lovingly written in assembly language!
But having primitive apps wasn't nearly the coolest part about those Timex watches. Just wait until you learn how the Datalink 150 sync'd up with whatever Windows computer you had in your household! See, the watch featured a small optical sensor on top of its watchface, which was used for data transmission via light from your computer's CRT monitor. Yup, that's how they did it before USB! Basically, the synchronization software made the monitor emit a series of pulsating horizontal bars, which the optical sensor scanned and delivered straight to the watch's EEPROM memory. Sounds pretty sci-fi, right? Surprisingly, the method worked faster than you probably imagine it – the Datalink 70 model took about 20 seconds to download 70 phone numbers to its memory, which sounds pretty decent by early 90s smart watch standards.
That's not even the last layer of cool for the Datalink series, though! On the Timex Datalink 50 model 70301's resin strap, there is a print with binary numbers which are actually ASCII code. The numbers on one half of the strap represent the text 'Listen To The Light', while those on the other half of the strap read 'If You Can See'. That's some cryptic stuff right there! And arguably the coolest bit is that Bill Gates himself owned a Datalink 150. But that's to be expected, given the wearable had the Microsoft logo on its watch face – front and center!
Although the Datalink watches look like overly ambitious "Casios on steroids" from today's perspective, they nevertheless have a cult following even today, with websites and groups dedicated to programming the wrist tockers still going strong. Although it may look primitive compared to the Apple Watch, the Datalink watches were certainly very ahead for their time!