Integrating the QWERTY keyboard into a smartwatch’s design has been a challenge long before the Apple Watch design and touchscreen technology were conceived.
In 1984, Seiko came up with the UC-2000 – a 300 USD watch with a keyboard that allows users to enter 2K of alphanumeric information, read the time, and perform calculator functions.
Although its design looks ridiculous with its keyboard, its pretty innovative how the watch can perform a lot of functions with and without the keyboard.
The watch comes with:
- CPU Z80
- 4Kb SRAM
- ROM Basic Microsoft
- a matrix display
- a calculator
- a thermal printer
- a QWERTY keyboard
- a ROM port for additional applications
- a transmission circuit
Its matrix display shows:
- 4 lines of 10 characters each
- upper- and lower-case letters
The “Mode” button allows the user to switch between:
- memo A and B
- a user-loaded application
- chrono to 1/100th of a second
The ROM cartridge contains these applications:
- demo (an animation that displays what the watch can do)
- schedule (an agenda with memos)
- hit (a shooting game)
- race (a betting game for racing)
- amida (a Japanese random game)
- card (a memory game).
The transmission circuit is where the watch can be mounted on. It doesn’t require a link between the watch and itself.
The termal printer slowly and noisily prints 20 characters that may include error messages.
Its original retail price was 300 USD. When I looked for the watch on eBay, its lowest price was 140 USD without the keyboard and 239 USD with the keyboard.
Although the device wasn’t well-received by the public shortly after its initial release, it was one of the smart technologies that challenged the idea of powerful, portable computers.