Technology moves at such a brisk pace that we often forget how far we have come and how long the journey has taken. Wearables are all the rage these days, with it touted as ‘the next big thing’ in technology. It hasn’t quite taken off yet, but there are already many options out there should you want one.

By Quantifi

We are waiting on a slew of new wearables to be released this week at IFA 2015 in Berlin, but before that, let’s take a look at some ‘wearables’ that have come before.


13th ““ Century Eyeglasses (Oldest pair)

The first “˜real‘ wearable, eyeglasses, were invented in 1286 in Italy, after emperor Nero looked through an emerald to better his sight. This was before the creation of the convex lens, when short sighted people had to find ingenious ways to see. Technically, they were formed from two primitive convex shaped glass/crystal stones. Each was surrounded by a frame and given a handle. These were then connected together through the ends of their handles by a rivet.

They were not really an invention per se but instead a bright idea or “œadaptation“ of something used earlier ““ the simple glass stone magnifier. On Feb.23, 1306, Giordano mentioned them by stating in a sermon “œit is not yet twenty years since there was found the art of making eyeglasses which make for good vision, one of the best arts and most necessary that the world has.“ He coined the word “œOcchiale“ (eyeglasses) and its use began to spread throughout Italy and Europe.

17th ““ Century Abacus


Before the invention of the wrist calculator, there was an abacus ring. The 17th century Chinese invention was used to perform mathematical equations, the basics off course.

1924 Trench Watch


The first modern wrist wearable, presumably, is the wristwatch. Previously, the only way to tell time aside from a sundial and clocks at home was the handy pocket watch. But in most cases they were bulky, and had to be operated by both hands, until Patek Phillipe created the first wristwatch in 1868.

However, Constant Girard in 1880, came up with the idea to strap one to his wrist. 2000 Watches were made for German naval officers but gained fame after 1904 when pilot Alberto Santos Dumont asked Louis Cartier to come up with a timekeeping alternative that would allow him to keep both hands on the controls while timing his performances during flight, and the Santos watch and WWI “˜trench watches‘ were born.

Pulsar Calculator Watch


In the 1970‘s and 80‘s wrist calculators were on the rage. The “œCalculator“ introduced in 1975, was considered as the first ever wristwatch. It was made of 18KT solid gold making it extremely pricey at $3950. A more affordable, stainless steel, version was released a few month later at $550. Both proved to be a huge market success.

Sinclair Wrist Calculator


1977 Saw the Sinclair Wrist Calculator launched by Science of Cambridge, previously Sinclair Instrument Ltd, and was regarded as a “˜pure‘ wrist calculator.

Puma RS-Computer Shoe


The Puma RS-Computer Shoe was one of the first pedometers ever invented. The left shoe had an empty compartment for your ID (yup that‘s right), change for a phone call, or even a spare house key. The right companion shoes was also fitted with a similar compartment with a small computer that acts as a pedometer. A detachable cabled allowed you to plug it into your Apple Ile for analysis.

Seiko Wrist PC


In 1981, Seiko Marketed their UC 2000 Wrist PC which was marketed as a portable PC. It allowed users to tell the time, add up, and input up to 2kb of data via a keyboard strapped to the arm. It wasn‘t a real success.

Nelsonic Space Attacker


1984, Nelsonic made gaming portable, with Space Attacker Watch, with two front buttons allowing wearers to play a basic space invaders style arcade game.

Private Eye (Second from right)


Private Eye was the precursor to the modern day Google Glass. Released in 1989, it consisted of a head mounted screen, handheld input device, had an 85mb hard drive and was powered by a motorbike battery. It was one of the earlier attempts at a portable, head-mounted display computer.

There are many more wearables from the past, but at least we have come a long way since the abacus ring and the wrist calculator.

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