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Time Killers: The Strange History of Wrist Gaming

From calculator to Mario on your wrist to smartwatches.

Daniel Purvis / Polygon

Flying cars, robot servants, personal jetpacks: This was the life envisioned for us by the futurists, science fiction writers and gadget makers of the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s. And one of the most memorable of those fictional inventions was the famed Dick Tracy watch.

While the Apple Watch may be one of the most advanced takes on that famous idea, it’s far from the first smartwatch to deliver on a comic book future. The history of smartwatches, computerized watches that deliver more than the time, dates back to the ’70s, and gaming on those watches has just as long a history.

Throughout that somewhat muddled five-decade period, gaming has pushed the technology forward. It was gaming that helped turn calculators into handheld toys. It was gaming that inspired Casio to try to create a new sort of technophile lifestyle. And even today, it is gaming that is empowering a new generation of developers to push the boundaries of what a smartwatch can do.

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This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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