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 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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10 Responses to Texas Instruments Starburst

  1. I have one that I bought for my Father. I worked for TI and was very proud of their innovations and at the timeI was a watch fanatic..
    If anyone is interested, please get in touch. Mine has hardly ever been out of it’s box, I just put a new battery in it and its working fine..

    • Hi Frank, do you still have your watch available for sale? I worked in Facilities at DMOS6 last year for an internship and just got hired back full-time. After reading through some company literature, this watch really caught my attention! I’d be happy to discuss price, and hopefully keep the timepiece with another TIer!

      • Hi Joseph. I have one that is mint in box with all original packaging. I installed a new Lithium battery and the watch operates as it should. Let me know if you have any interest in discussing

      • Hello Joseph, yes I still have mine, mint in box and still runs fine. Happy to discuss a deal with you if you haven’t found another yet. I’m also happy to hang on to it just because. I’m retired now, and have a younger partner and a new baby, so it would be nice if I make a “time box” for her to open when she’s 20 or more and I’m long gone… 🙂

  2. Work for the company provided the machine’s that Gold plated most of TI WATCHES.
    VINTAGE IN THE 70.I was the Sales person.
    I have several watches.
    Model 404

    • .Hi Fred
      I worked for TI Bedford UK in the 70’s.
      Do you have Starburst watch for sale.

  3. Yo tengo uno y quiero venderlo por que la verdad tengo que o pagar unas deudas me gustaría que ofrecieran gracias

  4. I used to work for TI in both Lubbock and Midland/Odessa where these watches were manufactured. I was a manufacturing engineer and my job was to find out why some watches wouldn’t work. I used to take them and work on them myself, but I don’t have the tools or steady hands to do that anymore. I actually have two working Starburst watches. One is a beautiful gold square one with band. The other is the round version with no watch band. Both watches still work. This is pretty amazing considering that the microelectronics of 1978 were not knows for their long life.

  5. Hi Bill.I worked for TI in Bedford Uk.Would you be interested in selling the round Starburst watch.

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