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The Watch

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Jack was struggling through a bus station with two huge and obviously heavy suitcases, when a stranger walked up to him and asked “Have you got the time?”

Jack sighed, put down the two heavy suitcases and glanced at his wrist.

“It’s a quarter to six,” he said to the stranger.

“Hey, that’s a pretty fancy watch!” exclaimed the stranger, looking at the stylish timepeice on Jack’s wrist.

Jack brightened up a little at the stranger’s interest in his new piece of technology.

“Yeah, it’s not bad”, he said to the stranger, “hey check this out”.

Jack showed the stranger a time zone display, not just for every time zone in the world, but for the 86 largest metropoli.

He pressed a few buttons and from somewhere on the watch a voice said “the time is five forty nine” in a very West Texas accent.

Jack pressed a few more buttons and the same voice said something in Japanese.

Jack continued “I’ve put in regional accents for each city”.

Well, the display on the watch was unbelievably high quality and the voice was simply astounding. The stranger was struck dumb with admiration and watch envy.

“If you think that’s good” Jack said to the fascinated stranger, “that’s not all this watch does”.

So Jack pushed a few more buttons and a tiny but very hi-resolution map of New York City appeared on the display.

“The flashing dot shows our location by satellite positioning,” Jack explained.

“View recede ten,” Jack said and the display changed to show eastern New York state.

“I want to buy this watch!” says the stranger.

“Oh, no, it’s not ready for sale yet; I’m still working out the bugs,” Jack replied. “I’m the inventor, and it’s not quite ready for general sale”.

“Now look at this,” Jack said and he proceeded to demonstrate that the watch was also a very creditable little FM radio receiver with a digital tuner, a sonar device that can measure distances up to 125 meters, a pager with thermal paper printout and, most impressive of all, the capacity for voice recordings of up to 300 standard-size books,” although I only have 32 of my favorites in there so far” Jack said.

“I’ve got to have this watch!” the stranger said.

“No, you don’t understand, it’s not ready””

“I’ll give you $1,000 for it!”

“Oh, no, I’ve already spent more than…..”

“Ok I’ll give you $5,000 for it!”

“But it’s just not…..”

“Final offer, I’ll give you $15,000 for it!”, and the stranger pulls out a checkbook.

Jack stops to think.

He has only put about $8,500 into materials and development, and with $15,000 he can make another one and have it ready for merchandising in only six months.

The stranger frantically finishes writing the check and waves it in front of him.

“Here it is, ready to hand to you right here and now. $15,000. Take it or leave it.”

Jack abruptly made his decision, after all $15,000 was a lot of money and he spent a small fortune on research and development.

“Ok”, he said peeling off the watch and handing it to the stranger.

So the exchange made, the stranger started to walk happily away.

“Hey, wait a minute”, Jack called out after the stranger, who turned around warily.

Jack pointed to the two suitcases that he had been trying to wrestle through the bus station, “Don’t forget your batteries!”

Funny isn’t it, that when this joke was written, which must be well over 12 years ago, and probably 20 or more years ago, the concept of a watch (or even a phone) that could do all of this and more was just science fantasy. Now of course it’s a reality, although many of us still struggle with battery life, and probably always will.

I think 20 years ago I could have never imagined a watch or a phone doing all of this and more and here we are. I wonder what the next 20 years will bring.

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