The Past’s Future, In The Present

Watch TV on your watch? This is the shit!
Watch TV on your watch? This is the shit!

Back in 1982 when I was just 8 years old, the future paid a visit, in the form of a watch made by Seiko. It seemed a very ordinary watch, at first glance – except it had a slightly larger-than-normal screen. This was so you could watch all your favourite TV shows on this…er…watch

A device called a watch that integrated telling the time and watching television? “Stroke of genius!” thought my 8-year-old mind. I was enthralled! I wanted one! I begged my parents. Wrote the necessary tomes to Father Christmas and was less of the naughty little rotter I usually was, in the hopes of convincing everyone I was a good enough boy to warrant being given one of these amazing gadgets from the future.

I saw a future where everyone walked around staring at their timepieces, watching news, sports shows and cartoons. If TV on a watch was possible, well, then why not a telephone watch, too? Like a small, wrist-bound walkie-talkie? James Bond and all the spies of the day owned such marvels, and if Seiko could work a TV into a wristwatch, then surely they could do one with a phone, too? Maybe you’d have to wear two watches – one on each wrist. A TV on one wrist and a phone on the other. The confluence of device functionality as an idea had yet to take hold in my 8-year-old brain, despite Seiko’s TV watch being exactly that. I couldn’t conceive of having more than two functionalities in one device….but…

In the better sort of Sci-Fi movies, there would be a dizzying array of flashing lights, and a montage of a calendar, rapidly spinning through the days, months and years as we fast-forward 31 years. The future is here. All of these techno gadgets have been realised in a single device, and without much pomp and circumstance and at a fairly low cost, almost everybody has one.

1982's concept realised in 2013
1982’s concept realised in 2013

This epiphany struck me as I sat watching ‘Dear Sister’, on my mobile phone. A mobile phone that has a clock on it. Sure, the final product may not be something we wear on our wrist, but all the signs were there, in 1982 and we now carry a small device that we use to communicate with each other, and through Cinemo on Mxit, I can watch daily installments of Cinemo’s latest, locally-produced movie. All on my handset – a cheap and nasty Samsung GT feature phone – wherever I go. All perfectly mobile, sensible and available to ordinary citizens like me, and the millions of daily users on Mxit.

Suddenly, a train ride home is not a dull journey or a waste of time. It’s an opportunity to be entertained; to catch up on the latest developments as the ‘Dear Sister’ story unfolds. I can also comment on each episode, along with everyone else who is following the story – often, our comments will spark off a discussion – maybe even a lively argument, masquerading as a debate.

Interactive TV! On your phone! With a clock on it!  Who knew? Well, Seiko, for one – way back in 1982! We’ve just adapted their vision, and made it more mobile, more useful – we added a phone!

© Dave Luis 2013. All Rights Reserved.

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3 thoughts on “The Past’s Future, In The Present

  1. I was 12 years old in 1982 and remember this as well, also thought I wanted one and it was amazing! Goodness look where we are today in terms of this technology!

    Willie

    1. Willie, when I first saw it, I was beside myself with amazement – I was SO keen to have it! Promised the WORLD to my parents so they’d get me one. Of course Father Christmas didn’t manage to get one – they were massively expensive, even if you weren’t living in SA at the time. Just amazing now that humble telephone has become our all-points access medium for these amazing revelations from our youth.

      1. Sadly half of the 80’s wonders that I wanted my parents couldn’t afford! Anyway, I find it amazing that those 80’s inventions became reality (better ones now) at a time when I can afford them at least.

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