When Timex introduced cheap, seemingly unbreakable watches in the 1950s, the product was given short shrift by both media and jewelers, but they soon were category leaders. The Timex Data Link of the 1990s, however, made in conjunction with Microsoft, was probably lavished with too much praise. Before computers were tiny and powerful, the Data Link was the first watch that could receive downloaded information. It wasn’t good enough, but it was (sort of) the future. As Apple releases more information today about the iWatch that no one seems to be clamoring for, here’s an excerpt from a 1994 New York Times article about the Data Link followed by a commercial for it.
“Talk about information at your fingertips. The Timex Corporation and the Microsoft Corporation said today that they had teamed up to develop a wristwatch that can store information received directly from a personal computer screen.
The Timex Data Link watch, which will cost about $130 when it goes on sale in September, uses a wireless optical scanning system to receive data from Microsoft software.
The Data Link watch was demonstrated today at a presentation by Microsoft’s chairman, Bill Gates, who held it up to a computer as a series of bar-code lines flashed on the screen. After several seconds, Mr. Gates was able to scroll through personal information like appointment locations and telephone numbers at the touch of a button on the watch.
Fast Sales Predicted
C. Michael Jacobi, the president of Timex, predicted that the company would sell 200,000 of the watches in the final three months of this year, making it the fastest-selling watch ever in its price category.
The new watch looks like a regular round sports watch and includes such standard digital watch functions as a calendar, light, dual time-zone settings and alarms.
Using a microchip developed by Timex with Motorola Inc., the watch can store about 70 messages in its memory, downloading them in about 20 seconds, officials said.
Each watch will include software compatible with Microsoft Windows 3.1 and the company’s scheduling applications, such as Schedule Plus. The software also will be compatible with future versions of Windows, including a ‘Chicago’ upgrade expected out by the end of the year.
Users simply need to hold the watch about a foot away from their computer screens to download data, which can be done as often as needed.
Laptops Won’t Work
However, road warriors will be disappointed to learn that the watch will not work with laptop computers, which do not have a strong enough lighting source in their screens, Timex officials said.”•