The Pulsar is the world's first digital quartz watch.
Late in 1972, HMW, (previously Hamilton Watch Company) of Lancaster,
Pennsylvania, began to sell the Pulsar, the first all-electronic
wristwatch. The Pulsar's most striking feature was its time display.
Gone were the traditional hands and dial. Instead, it indicated
the time of day in flashing red digits at the push of a button.
Advertised as a "Time Computer" and initially sold
in fine jewelry stores for $2100 (roughly the same price as a
Chevrolet Vega in those years), the costly Pulsar was one of the
earliest consumer products of the microelectronics revolution.
The Pulsar name was chosen to reflect its space-age technology.
The Pulsar was the result of a joint effort by HMW and Electro/Data, Inc.,
headed by R&D manager John Bergey.
The first Pulsars were marketed to men as examples of space-age technology
(there wasn't a lady's Pulsar until 1974). The very name was borrowed from
astronomy. Pulsars--stars that emit radiowaves at precisely spaced
intervals--had just recently been discovered.
The Pulsar's LED display was initially
quite popular. Consumers soon found that having to push a button to read the
time was cumbersome, and by 1977 the LCD
display had overtaken the market. Watches with the Pulsar name continue to be
made, but they are no longer made by Hamilton. HMW sold its watch division to
the Swiss in 1974, and the separate Pulsar division, called Time Computer, Inc.
continued until 1977, when it was sold to Rhapsody, Inc., an American jewelry
firm. Rhapsody in turn sold the name "Pulsar" to Seiko in Japan.
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