Digital Watches

Cheaper electronics permitted the popularization of the digital watch (an electronic watch with a numerical, rather than analog, display) in the second half of the 20th century. They were seen as the great new thing. Douglas Adams, in the introduction of his novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, would say that humans were 'so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea'.

The first digital watch, a Pulsar prototype in 1970, was developed jointly by Hamilton Watch Company and Electro-Data. A retail version of the Pulsar was put on sale in 1972. It had a red light-emitting diode (LED) display. LED displays were soon superseded by liquid crystal displays (LCDs), which used less battery power. The first LCD watch with a six-digit LCD was the 1973 Seiko 06LC, although various forms of early LCD watches with a four-digit display were marketed as early as 1972 including the 1972 Gruen Teletime LCD Watch.

In addition to the function of a timepiece, digital watches can have additional functions like a chronograph, calculator, video game, etc.

Digital watches have not replaced analog watches, despite their greater reliability and lower cost. In fact, because digital watches are so cheap, analog watches are often worn as status symbols. For others, analog watches are just easier to read.