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An Ode To The First Smartwatch: It's Older Than You Think

The First Smartwatch, The Plus Four Wristlet Route Indicator, Emerged From The Roaring Twenties

One of the first smartwatches on record was the 1927 "Plus Four Wristlet Route Indicator."

According to Cnet, the device was a scroll-map navigator worn like a typical watch and came with interchangeable instructions that could be scrolled manually to direct drivers on their route. The watch was loaded with a paper road map updated by adjusting two small black knobs.

The device was British-made and cost five pounds in the late 1920s, or approximately $75 by today's standards when adjusted for inflation.

The watch came with 20 "preloaded" maps, but owners could have ordered more to cover all of England, although most of the set journeys commenced in London.

As noted by Daily Mail, the watch was a key attraction at the "Curious Contraptions exhibition of eccentric inventions from the Victorian and Edwardian era."

"It is a great idea but it would have been quite fiddly to keep winding the map on as you drove and when you wanted to change a map you would have to pull off the road," Maurice Collins, the owner of the collection of devices which was on display told the Daily Mail. "It would probably have been used by people who were taking day trips from London and would have been sold in car shops alongside driving gloves and maps."

Innovation Continues, A Century Later

Technology has sure come a long way in the past 100 years. Just this week, Apple Inc. AAPL 0.37% and Nike Inc NKE 0.08% will begin selling a smartwatch, which fully leverages the technology of two of the most powerful brands in the planet.

Image Credit: "Gas Station In England, 1927" By Stockholm Transport Museum (Flickr) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons.

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