A man named Jake is struggling through a bus station with
two huge and obviously heavy suitcases when a stranger
comes up behind him and asks " Have you got the time ?
Jake sighs, puts down the suitcases and turns around.
After glancing at his wrist he says " it's about a quarter to
" Hey, that's a pretty fancy watch ! " exclaims the
Jake brightens a little. " Yeah, it's not bad. Check this out
" - and he shows him a time zone display not just for every
time zone in the world, but for the 86 largest metropoli.
He hits a few buttons and from somewhere on the watch a
voice says " The time is eleven 'til sixteen " in a very West
A few more buttons and the same voice says something in
Japanese. Jake continues " I've put in regional accents
for each city ".
The display is unbelievably high quality for a mere watch,
and the voice is simply astounding - smooth and perfectly
audible, without the tinny sound you might expect from a
speaker that could fit on a watch.
The stranger is struck dumb with admiration.
" That's not all ", says Jake.
He pushes a few more buttons - it has more than a dozen -
and a tiny but very high-resolution map of New York City
appears on the display.
" If we were outside ", Jake says pologetically, " it could
show you where we were by satellite positioning, but
under this roof all it can do is remember my last position
and a map of the surrounding area. View recede ten ", he
adds to the watch, and the display changes to show
eastern New York state.
" It responds to voice ? ! " gasps the stranger, and Jake
" But I haven't got it all programmed yet - most of the
functions are still button-activated. "
" I want to buy that watch ! " says the stranger. " Oh, no, it's not ready for sale yet ; I'm still working out the
bugs ", says the inventor.
" But look at this: ", and he proceeds to demonstrate that
the watch is also a very creditable little FM radio receiver
with a digital tuner, a sonar device that can measure
distances up to 125 meters as well as trigger the
stopwatch function for close racing finishes, a pager with
thermal paper printout and, most impressive of all to the
now drooling listener, has capacity for voice recordings of
up to 300 standard-size books, " though I only have 32 of
my favorites in there so far " says Jake.
He starts up " The Moon is a Harsh Mistress " by Robert
Heinlein, and although the stranger has never heard of
either he can still hear those amazing un-tinny voices
coming out of the normal-sized watch on Jake's wrist.
" I've got to have that watch ! ", he says.
" No, you don't understand; it's not ready - "
" I'll give you $1000 for it ! "
" Oh, no, I've already spent more than - "
" I'll give you $5000 for it ! "
" But it's just not - "
" I'll give you $15 000 for it ! " And the stranger pulls out a
" I've just *got* to have that watch ! "
" But ... ". Jake stops to think.
He's only put about $8500 into materials and
development, and with $15 000 he could make another
one and have it ready for merchandising in only another
half a year. " $15,000 ? "
The stranger frantically finishes writing the check and
waves it in front of him. " Here it is, ready to hand to you
right here and now. "
Jake abruptly makes his decision. " Ok ", he says, and
peels off the watch. They make the exchange, the check
for the watch, and the stranger starts happily away.
" Hey, wait a minute ", calls Jake after the stranger, who turns around warily.
Jake indicates the two suitcases he'd been trying to
wrestle through the bus station. " Don't you want the
batteries ? "