In 1976, Bulova produced one of the world's first digital wrist watches. The Bulova Computron was an odd watch that was "cool because it's cool." They came in several faux metals, but the one that I had experience with was "gold" and had a smooth face.
Early Computrons came in chrome and gold tone, and these futuristic looking watches, both then and now, require you to push a button to get a read out of the time, and pressing the button multiple times gives you the date or other information depending on the model.
The Reason For This Article
My father bought one of these things on a whim. He wore it for a few months, and then went back to his more reliable Timex analog-faced watch. The Computron spent a few months in his drawer next to his tie clips, rings, and cuff links.
I was amazed by the watch and often snuck into my parent's bedroom so that I could root through my dad's stuff. There was a lot of cool shit in that drawer, but the best was the Bulova.
Remember, this was a world where digital watches were rare. Kids back then didn't have screens in their faces all day long. Eventually, my dad just let me have the watch.
Shocked and surprised, I accepted the watch and wore it for around a year. I could amaze my friends with it because nobody was used to seeing a LCD like it. Sure, people had calculators, but this display was tiny, on a watch, and was RED.
Red was rare.
One day, I was running to school because I was late. I tripped on the sidewalk right in front of the school. A tree root had pushed up a portion of the sidewalk and I snagged my foot on the upraised concrete. I fell, hands out to protect my front from falling on the hard sidewalk. No injuries really, just a skinned palm, but something terrible had happened.
Because it was my dad's watch, and I was so young, the watch band was far too large for me. Sure, the watch was cool, but it always hung slack on my wrist. As I fell, the side of the watch that had the LCD display swung around and took the brunt of my fall. It was smashed to pieces.
Not a scratch on the case, no marks on the watch strap, everything looked exactly as it should except for the twisted, spidery crack that went from one end to the other of the watch's display. A sad bit of the glass had fallen out and was on the concrete, laying there in the sun. I was absolutely destroyed.
At the same time, I realized that my dad could not know. I had no idea how much the watch cost, but to me, because I loved it so much, it must have cost a fortune. I kept wearing that watch for a full year, despite the fact that it was broken. Whenever my dad was around, I made sure that he couldn't see the display. When my friends asked to see the time, I told them that the battery was dead. I just kept on wearing that watch, trying to keep up appearances so that I would not get in trouble with my dad.
A year later and my room is a mess. There are Lego bricks all over the place, plastic models, army men, and that watch on the floor. My dad goes in to yell at me and notices the watch on the floor. He picks it up, meaning to put it on my nightstand, but realizes that the face is totally gone.
"What happened?" he asked. At that moment, the fears of a full year flooded out in a single moment. Sobbing, I told him what had happened, and how I had been keeping the accident a secret.
He was silent for a moment, and then started laughing. I was astonished.
"That thing is cheap junk, I'm surprised it hasn't turned your wrist green yet!" he said with a laugh.
- Not the first, but one of the early ones.
- The re-released them recently and you can buy one. https://bulovacomputron.com/
- It retailed for $99, so not as much as I thought.