Texas Instruments Starburst

Texas Instruments Starburst

All digital watches are cool — no doubt about that. But the ones that you can find in a museum, they are next-level cool!

Like this one — the Texas Instruments Starburst watch — the first analogue watch without moving parts, introduced in 1978.

You read that right — 1978 — years before Casio’s QW103 module (as seen in the A203, A201 and a number of other A and AA models) and Seiko’s G757 the Texas Instruments company figured out how to make an analog LCD watch using of only 26 contacts for 120 display elements using two-way multiplexing.

It would have been enough to just show the time in analog format (like the picture at right) but they gave it seven unique timekeeping modes:

  • Normal Display = Hours/Minutes
  • Minutes/Seconds
  • Day/Date
  • Alternate Time Zone
  • Stopwatch Mode # 1 (Hour/Minute)
  • Stopwatch Mode # 2 (Minute/Second)
  • Stopwatch Mode # 3 (Seconds/Tenths)

They put it in a few different cases — the one in the picture displayed looks the best in my opinion (despite my aversion to gold watches) since starbursts should be round – right?

The other case design (available in either silver or gold) was a square case with rounded corners with a circular hole to display the circular module — like this one that you can view at the UK Science Museum.

This watch is rare, and getting rarer. The few that you do see have generally been for sale for a while because the prices are very high (listings seem to vary between USD500 and USD1500).

For the age of the watch, the modules have held up surprisingly well most of those you see for sale will still be running happily.

A lovely piece of history, and well worth owning if you get the opportunity.

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