When Was the First Wearable Computer Made? A Look Back at the Evolution of Wearable Tech

The world of technology has always been on the move, constantly evolving and pushing the boundaries of what is possible. One of the most exciting areas of technological innovation in recent years has been the development of wearable technology. But when did the journey begin? When was the first wearable computer made? In this article, we’ll take a look back at the evolution of wearable tech and explore the origins of this exciting field. So, buckle up and get ready to explore the fascinating world of wearable computers!

The Beginnings of Wearable Computing

Early Concepts and Prototypes

While the term “wearable technology” may be relatively new, the concept of wearable computers has been around for several decades. The 1970s marked the beginning of the development of the first wearable computer, which would lay the foundation for the modern wearable technology we know today.

The First Wearable Computer:
The first wearable computer, also known as the “Wrist Mac,” was developed in the 1970s by a team of engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). This computer was a wristwatch-like device that featured a small display, a keyboard, and a computer inside. The Wrist Mac was designed to be a personal computer that could be worn on the wrist, allowing users to access and manipulate data on the go.

Wearable Tech Pioneers:
In addition to the Wrist Mac, there were other notable early pioneers in wearable technology. One of these pioneers was Steve Mann, who is often referred to as the “father of wearable computing.” Mann began experimenting with wearable technology in the 1970s, creating devices such as the “EyeTap,” which allowed users to take pictures and view them on a head-mounted display.

Another important figure in the early development of wearable technology was Alan Kay, who is known for his work on the first personal computer and the development of the graphical user interface (GUI). Kay also worked on early concepts for wearable computers, including a concept for a portable device that could be worn on the belt and used for email and other communication.

Overall, the early concepts and prototypes for wearable technology were characterized by a focus on creating personal, portable computers that could be worn on the body. These early innovations laid the groundwork for the modern wearable technology industry, which has seen rapid growth in recent years.

Wearable Tech in the 1980s and 1990s

Fashion-Based Wearables

During the 1980s, wearable technology began to evolve and merge with fashion. Designers such as Jean-Louis Gassée, a former Apple executive, started to create computerized clothing. These fashion-based wearables were often designed to be visually appealing and stylish, rather than purely functional.

One notable example of this era’s wearable tech was the “Talking Pendant,” created by the designer Gattani. This accessory combined high-fashion design with modern technology, featuring a video camera and a tiny LCD screen, allowing the user to make video calls. The Talking Pendant demonstrated how wearable technology could be both practical and fashionable.

Military Applications

In the 1990s, wearable technology began to be utilized for military applications. This period saw the development of several devices that would later inspire civilian wearables. One example is the night vision goggles used by the military, which were bulky and expensive at the time. These goggles allowed soldiers to see in low-light conditions, enhancing their night vision capabilities.

Another military application was body armor, which was developed to protect soldiers from gunshots and other forms of physical attacks. While the body armor was not a wearable device per se, it demonstrated the potential for technology to enhance human safety and resilience.

Overall, the 1980s and 1990s marked a period of experimentation and exploration in wearable technology. Designers and engineers were pushing the boundaries of what was possible, combining fashion and function to create devices that could enhance human capabilities and experiences.

The Modern Era of Wearable Computing

Key takeaway: The concept of wearable computers has been around for several decades, with the first wearable computer, the “Wrist Mac,” being developed in the 1990s. In the 1980s and 1990s, wearable technology began to evolve and merge with fashion, and military applications of wearable technology emerged. The modern era of wearable computing has been marked by the rise of smartwatches, fitness and health wearables, and other devices that have expanded the capabilities of wearable technology. Emerging technologies, such as textile-based wearables, body-based wearables, and AR and VR headsets, are pushing the boundaries of what is possible with wearable technology and expanding the potential applications of these devices.

The Rise of Smartwatches

Apple Watch

The Apple Watch, released in 2015, was a major player in the rise of smartwatches. This device was highly anticipated by tech enthusiasts, and it did not disappoint. The Apple Watch featured a sleek design, a high-resolution display, and a variety of health and fitness tracking features. Additionally, it was seamlessly integrated with the iPhone, allowing users to receive notifications, make calls, and control music playback directly from their wrist. The Apple Watch quickly became a popular accessory for tech-savvy individuals and was praised for its ease of use and stylish design.

Other Smartwatches

Other notable smartwatches include the Samsung Galaxy Watch and the Fitbit Versa. The Samsung Galaxy Watch was released in 2018 and boasted a long battery life, advanced health and fitness tracking features, and the ability to make mobile payments. The Fitbit Versa, released in 2017, was a popular choice for fitness enthusiasts due to its robust fitness tracking capabilities and affordable price point. Both of these smartwatches offered users a range of features and functionality, further fueling the growth of the wearable technology market.

Fitness and Health Wearables

Fitness trackers, such as the Fitbit Flex and the Jawbone Up, gained popularity in the mid-2000s. These devices were designed to monitor and track physical activity, including steps taken, distance traveled, and calories burned. They were often worn on the wrist or attached to clothing, and used sensors to collect data on the user’s movements.

In recent years, health wearables have become more advanced, incorporating features such as heart rate monitoring, GPS tracking, and even ECG (electrocardiogram) and blood oxygen level measurements. Devices like the Apple Watch Series 4 and the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 have expanded the capabilities of fitness trackers, allowing users to monitor their health and wellness in a more comprehensive way.

Additionally, some fitness and health wearables are now able to integrate with other devices and apps, allowing users to track their progress over time and set goals for improvement. This integration has made it easier for people to stay motivated and engaged in their fitness and health routines, and has contributed to the growing popularity of wearable technology.

The Future of Wearable Computing

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

AR and VR Headsets

AR and VR headsets, such as the Oculus Quest and the HTC Vive, are becoming increasingly popular in the gaming industry. These headsets use advanced technology to immerse the user in a virtual world, providing a unique and engaging experience. The Oculus Quest, in particular, has gained widespread popularity due to its wireless design and handheld controllers, making it a convenient and accessible option for gamers.

AR Smart Glasses

AR smart glasses, such as the Microsoft Hololens, are expected to become more prevalent in the coming years. These glasses use augmented reality technology to overlay digital information onto the real world, providing a hands-free and interactive experience. The Microsoft Hololens, for example, allows users to interact with holographic images and perform tasks such as reading emails and attending meetings. As the technology continues to advance, AR smart glasses have the potential to revolutionize the way we interact with information and perform tasks in our daily lives.

Other Emerging Technologies

As the field of wearable technology continues to evolve, there are several emerging technologies that are worth noting. These innovations are pushing the boundaries of what is possible with wearable tech and expanding the potential applications of these devices.

Textile-Based Wearables

Textile-based wearables, such as smart clothing and e-textiles, are a growing area of interest. These garments are designed to incorporate electronic components and sensors directly into the fabric, allowing for seamless integration of technology into everyday clothing. This opens up a wide range of possibilities, from monitoring health and fitness to enhancing fashion and style.

One example of textile-based wearables is the biometric t-shirt developed by Owlet. This shirt is designed to monitor a baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels, providing parents with real-time data on their child’s health and well-being. The shirt is made from a blend of cotton and spandex, with sensors woven into the fabric to collect data.

Another example is the Google Jacquard fabric, which is a fabric that can be woven with conductive threads. This allows for the integration of touch and gesture sensors into the fabric, enabling a wide range of applications, from interactive clothing to smart home devices.

Body-Based Wearables

Body-based wearables, such as temporary tattoos and ingestible sensors, are also emerging as new forms of wearable technology. These devices are designed to be worn on or in the body, allowing for continuous monitoring of vital signs and other data.

Temporary tattoos are a popular form of body-based wearable, offering a non-invasive way to monitor health data. These tattoos can be applied to the skin like a regular tattoo, but are designed to be temporary and easily removable. They can be used to monitor a wide range of data, from heart rate to hydration levels.

Ingestible sensors are another emerging technology, offering a way to monitor data from within the body. These sensors are typically swallowed in pill form and can be used to monitor everything from gastrointestinal health to blood sugar levels.

Overall, these emerging technologies are pushing the boundaries of what is possible with wearable technology, offering new and innovative ways to monitor health and wellness, enhance fashion and style, and improve our daily lives.


1. What is a wearable computer?

A wearable computer is a type of computer that is designed to be worn by a person. It is typically small and portable, and can be worn on the body in some way, such as on a belt or as a headset. Wearable computers are often used for tasks that require hands-free operation, such as tracking fitness data or providing navigation information.

2. When was the first wearable computer made?

The first wearable computer was made in the 1970s. It was called the “Wrist Terminal” and was developed by a company called General Electric. The Wrist Terminal was a small computer that could be worn on the wrist and was used to control industrial machines. It had a display, a keyboard, and a built-in computer, and was used to monitor and control factory equipment.

3. What was the first wearable computer for consumers?

The first wearable computer for consumers was the Apple Watch, which was released in 2015. The Apple Watch is a smartwatch that can be worn on the wrist and is designed to be used as a personal assistant and fitness tracker. It has a display, a touchscreen, and a variety of sensors, and can be used to send and receive messages, make phone calls, and track fitness data.

4. How has wearable technology evolved over time?

Wearable technology has come a long way since the first wearable computer was made in the 1970s. Today, there are a wide variety of wearable devices available, including smartwatches, fitness trackers, and virtual reality headsets. These devices are often smaller, more powerful, and more versatile than their predecessors, and are used for a wide range of tasks, from tracking fitness data to providing navigation information to playing games.

From 1996: Meet the man who invented a wearable computer

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