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Casio Made Smart Watches Decades Before Apple

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A selection of smart watches, including an Apple Watch, Pebble Steel, Garmin Vivoactive, Alcatel OneTouch, Motorola Moto 360 and an LG Urbane. (Neil Godwin/T3 Magazine via Getty Images)
A selection of smart watches, including an Apple Watch, Pebble Steel, Garmin Vivoactive, Alcatel OneTouch, Motorola Moto 360 and an LG Urbane. (Neil Godwin/T3 Magazine via Getty Images)

 

In the tech world, releasing a product too early can be just as detrimental to its success as releasing it too late. Such is the case with Casio and its forward-thinking wristwatches released in the 1990s. The Japanese watchmaker included many of the must-have features of modern-day smartwatches—fitness tracking, music, weather, phone notifications, and much more—on its now seemingly ancient timepieces. The Toshio Kashio Memorial Museum of Invention, named after the late Casio co-founder, is home to a trove of the bizarre and seemingly anachronistic watches. The Verge‘s Sam Byford paid a visit to the museum and spoke with a Casio representative about why their elaborate timepieces didn’t quite take off. Here’s what they said:

“The intent behind the exhibition is to lend context to Casio’s current lineup of more traditional watches. Barring a huge spike in the mid-‘90s when the G-Shock line gained popularity, Casio was never able to achieve major sales growth in the watch segment until more recently, when it started to focus on analog models — some of which have basic Bluetooth functionality, but none of which go to such design extremes.”

Byford detailed all the Apple Watch predecessors here. Take a look at a sampling of them below.

Released in 1999, the PRT-1GP was the first watch ever to have built-in GPS (Getty Images)
Released in 1999, the PRT-1GP was the first watch ever to have built-in GPS (Getty Images)
The WMP-1 was the first timepiece to be hold MP3 files. It could play 33 minutes of music.(Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images)
The WMP-1 was the first timepiece to be hold MP3 files. It could play 33 minutes of music.(Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images)
On the left is the PRT-40E with altimeter, barometer and thermometer functions. In the middle is the Model VDB-200B-1 with touch screen, back light, stopwatch and address book functions. And on the right is the multi-function Casio digital watch with built in infra-red transmitter to control household appliances. (SSPL/Getty Images)
On the left is the PRT-40E with altimeter, barometer and thermometer functions. In the middle is the Model VDB-200B-1 with touch screen, back light, stopwatch and address book functions. And on the right is the multi-function Casio digital watch with built in infra-red transmitter to control household appliances. (SSPL/Getty Images)
Casio's BP-1DJ was one the first watches to monitor blood pressure and heart rate (Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images)
Casio’s BP-1DJ was one the first watches to monitor blood pressure and heart rate (Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images)