HAMILTON PULSAR: A TRANS-PACIFIC STORY

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HAMILTON PULSAR: A TRANS-PACIFIC STORY

Post by koimaster » June 23rd 2021, 11:03am

Pulsar is a brand that really flies under the radar. And that’s perfectly understandable today - they’re a sub-brand of Seiko, and not really a cool one like Credor or GS. That’s a shame though, because Pulsar really has an interesting history. That of an American-born brand, lost in Japan.

The Hamilton Pulsar was the world’s first LED watch, introduced to the watch market on May 6th, 1970¹ on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, who actually mocked the Pulsar prototype on air. People often forget this invention as the focus was on quartz in the early 1970s, but LED was here to stay. The Pulsar was actually made by two companies, Hamilton and Electro/Data, Inc. A man named George H. Thiess was at the head of Electro/Data, the founder of the company, which was based in Garland, Texas and already looking at the issue of LED watches. Engineers at Hamilton would’ve also been studying the same issue, with John Bergey leading the research, who had previously working on military watches. The idea of making a digital watch is said to have come from Stanley Kubrick, who contacted Hamilton to make one for his 2001: A Space Odyssey. Bergey would’ve set to work on this endeavor, who supposedly held 26 patents for different aspects of the watches. He became President of the newly formed Time Computer Inc. – a joint venture between Hamilton and Electro/Data, Inc. for the production of the Pulsar. The name Pulsar interestingly comes from the Pulsar in astronomy which refers to a highly magnetized star that emits radiation. These had only recently been discovered, first observed by Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Anthony Hewish in 1967. The first Pulsar watch, although introduced as a concept in 1970, was only released in 1972!

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