On March 19, 1995, an episode of â€śThe Simpsonsâ€ť entitled â€śLisaâ€™s Weddingâ€ť took a futuristic view of Springfieldâ€™s favorite family after Homerâ€™s daughter visited a fortunetellerâ€™s booth. At one point in the episode, Lisaâ€™s future husband, Hugh Parkfield, voiced by actor Mandy Patinkin, bent over and spoke into a strange-looking device on his wrist: a half flip phone, half wristwatch that most modern viewers would liken to a smartwatch.
This is a genuine clip from a 1995 episode of â€śThe Simpsons.â€ť It is also true that this episode aired more than 20 years before the â€śYear of the Smartwatchâ€ť in 2014, when these devices became relatively common. However, â€śThe Simpsonsâ€ť shouldnâ€™t get credit for â€śpredictingâ€ť the smartwatch for two reasons:
Itâ€™s difficult to pinpoint exactly when the first smartwatch was produced, because it depends on the criteria you use to classify one. The first digital watches were produced in the 1970s. In 1983, the Seiko Data-2000 featured a built-in keyboard for data input. A few years later, Sinclair made a watch with an FM radio, and in 1994 Seiko unveiled a watch that doubled as a pager. The Timex Datalink, which was also introduced in 1994, is a good contender for the first â€śmodernâ€ť smartwatch because it had the ability to transfer data by linking to a computer.Â
The point is that the road to the modern smartwatch has been a long and winding one that predated this episode of â€śThe Simpsons.â€ťÂ
In addition to these early entries into the smartwatch market, the idea of a smartwatch can be traced back even further. Special agent James Bond, for instance, has a long history of using watch gadgets to aid his spy craft. In 1973â€™s â€śLive and Let Die,â€ť Bondâ€™s watch was equipped with a circular saw and a magnet. In 1977â€™s â€śThe Spy Who Loved Me,â€ť Bond used his watch to print out tiny messages. In 1995â€™s â€śGolden Eye,â€ť Bondâ€™s watch was equipped with a laser.Â
And Bond wasnâ€™t the only fictional character to use a dual-purpose watch. Fred Flintstone once communicated via a radio watch, as did members of â€śThe Jetsons.â€ť Detective Dick Tracy also used a radio watch in a 1946 comic strip, and who could forget Pennyâ€™s watch in â€śInspector Gadget?â€ť
In sum, â€śThe Simpsonsâ€ť didnâ€™t predict the smartwatch. While this episode of â€śThe Simpsonsâ€ť is real and truly predated the â€śYear of the Smartwatchâ€ť in 2014, this was not the first time a smartwatch appeared in a movie, comic strip, or television show. Furthermore, the evolution of the smartwatch was well underway by the time this episode aired in 1994.Â
You can read more about â€śThe Simpsonsâ€ť alleged predictions in the Snopesâ€™ collection â€śThe Simpsons Didnâ€™t Predict That.â€ť