Linux Watch - overview

Linux Watch (WatchPad™) 1998-2004

Linux Watch OLED WatchWatchpad 1.5Linux Watch Board on Finger

The IBM Linux Watch made several advances for mobile computing that spanned system design, power management, user interfaces, applications, and device symbiosis. These advances were publicly demonstrated starting in 2000, and described in detail in peer reviewed publications and in US patents. The project was started in Fall 1998. First, specialized boards, attachment technologies, and displays had to be designed and developed to achieve a level of miniaturization to fit in a wrist watch form factor and are described here. Subsequently several advances were made in systems and applications

In Eric Raymond’s (author of Cathedral and the Bazaar) words, "the Linux Watch initiated the takeover of the mobile/embedded space by Linux," which was previously dominated by several proprietary operating systems. Smart phones that used the Android operating system (based on a modified version of the Linux kernel) appeared after 2005.  Today, it is estimated that rought 80% of the smart phones in the world run Android.  Android Wear (now Wear OS) based smart watches started appearing in year 2014.

Timeline of Functions Demonstrated on the Linux Watch:

Aug 2000:  At Linux World 2000 in San Jose, IBM Research demonstrates Linux on a wrist watch.  This illustrates value of Linux across many platforms, including pervasive devices.  More technical details can be found here.

Dec 2000: IBM demonstrated the Linux Watch with Bluetooth capabilities at Bluetooth Developers Conference 2000 in San Jose, CA.

Jan 2001:  IBM and eMagin Corporation demonstrate a high resolution Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) display for the Linux Watch at the Consumer Electronics show  in Las Vegas.  More details can be found here.

Mar 2001: Linux Watch is shown at CeBIT. The interaction between the watch and IBM WebSphere software is shown. Several tens of thousands of visitors, including, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, see the watch.

Oct 2001:  Citizen Watch and IBM Research announced that they have started a research collaboration on the Linux Watch technology.

Aug 2002:  IBM demonstrates mobile IPv6 on the Linux Watch at Linux World 2002 in San Francisco

May 2003: IBM demonstrates Mobile Web Services on the Linux Watch at the first MobiSys conference in San Francisco.

Mar 2004: IBM demonstrates the symbiosis between the LinuxWatch and the EveryWhere Displays at Percom 2004.

Aug 2011: Linux Watch was invited to be  featured in LinuxCon’s 2011 (now called Open Source Summit) historical gallery celebrating Linux’s last 20 years.


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