Before the Apple Watch, before Android Wear, even decades before MSN Direct and SPOT watches were even a twinkle in Microsoft’s eye, Hewlett Packard released the HP-01. It was a technological quantum leap for wearables, and arguably the first smartwatch the world had ever seen.
Over on Hodinkee they break down why the HP-01—which is crude by today’s standards—was such a marvel of its time. It wasn’t the first digital watch, it wasn’t even the first calculator watch, but with a seven-character bright-red LCD display, a 28 button keyboard, a stopwatch, a timer, an alarm clock, and the ability to actually store and recall data, it was the most technologically advanced device you could strap to your wrist back in 1977.
That’s not to say the HP-01 didn’t have its quirks. Pushing some of the calculator’s buttons required the use of a tiny stylus hidden in the band, it ran on three batteries, and it cost $695—which at the time made it pricier than a Rolex. But it’s without a doubt the great-grandfather of the touchscreen devices we wear today, and a real collectible if you’re able to find one in working order. [Hodinkee]