Back To The Future And The Watches Behind It

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History of the Calculator Watch

The Casio C-80, often regarded as the first calculator watch to become a commercial success (Business Insider).

Outside of its appearance in “Back to the Future”, the Casio Twincept Databank’s most prominent feature is that it also can be used as a calculator. These types of watches existed prior to Casio’s first model, the C-80; however, the Japanese electronics company is mostly credited for popularizing this type of watch during the early 1980s. These timepieces were much less expensive than previous models, with Casio’s costing about $50, while previous brands’ watches being priced in the hundreds. Unlike these watches, Casio’s C-80 and most of the brand’s later models didn’t need a stylus to use the buttons on the watch, as its precursors had extremely tiny buttons that could not be pressed by the average human finger. Of course, this was also in the era before touchscreens were popularized; however, Casio came out with its first touchscreen calculator watch, the TC-50, in the year 1980---nearly 30 years prior to Apple releasing the first iPhone!

The Casio Twincept Databank

Casio Twincept Databank (Amazon).

As well as being able to calculate up to 8-digit numbers, the Casio Twincept Databank has a dual time feature. In other words, the watch can display the time in two different time zones, perfect for travelers (but not time travelers, though). There are other features that come with the watch, including an alarm and stopwatch. If desired, you can also have it automatically beep at the start of every hour (which is an excellent feature if you’re like me, who is so anal-retentive that I like to do an hourly check-in with myself. Yes, I’m aware I’m weird). The watch costs $24.95 if you choose to buy it directly from Casio’s website, and is of course, cheaper if bought used!

The Flux Capacitor Watch

Flux Capacitor Watch (ThinkGeek).

In the movie “Back to the Future”, Doc Brown’s time machine has a flux capacitor, which “makes time travel possible,” according to the character. About 30 years after the movie’s initial release, the Virginia-based company ThinkGeek released a watch designed with the time machine’s key feature in mind. The lights on the watch will blink to represent every hour, then after that, the first and second digits of each minute. For instance, if the current time is 11:05 a.m., then the watch will blink for 11 times (hour), will stop blinking (first digit of minute), then blink again for 5 times in a row (second digit of minute). It will also display the month, day, and year; it even has a “time travel” button that displays a random date with just one click!


In the year 1980, Casio came out with its first calculator watch, the C-80, which was also the first to become a commercial success. After that, in 1985, Michael J. Fox wears another calculator watch from Casio, the Twincept Databank, while playing Marty McFly in “Back to The Future”. About 30 years after the movie was a critical and commercial success throughout the world, the company ThinkGeek came out with a currently sold-out watch inspired by the Flux Capacitor in Doc Brown’s Delorean time machine. This continues the impact of entertainment media in everyday products, such as and including watches.


Back To The Future And The Watches Behind It

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