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A brief history of smartwatches (pictures)

Smartwatches are back in style. Expected products from Apple and Samsung promise to further reinvigorate this genre of electronics that has been rife with failure.

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Josh Lowensohn
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1 of 20 CNET

Hello, smartwatches!

The concept of the smartwatch is nothing new, but what's inside them has changed. With the prevalence of smartphones, the old idea of packing everything into a watch has given way to making these devices an extension of the phone in your pocket. It wasn't always like that though...

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2 of 20 Samsung

Samsung's SPH-WP10

Samsung's 1999 SPH-WP10 mixed a smartphone and a watch in one. It weighed 50 grams with its battery, and could last for 90 minutes of talk time and 60 hours on standby. It also cost close to $700.

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3 of 20 Samsung

Samsung's S9110 (2009)

Samsung's S9110, released in 2009, was Samsung's second try at a phone/watch hybrid. It upped talk time to more than four hours, though was limited in its availability and still cost more than $600 -- a hard sell in the era of the $199 and $299 smartphone.

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Samsung's S9110

Samsung's S9110 had both a touch screen and physical buttons.

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5 of 20 Samsung

Samsung's S9110 next to a person

Here's Samsung's S9110 next to a human and a pen for size reference.

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Samsung's S9110 for scale

And another in case the first wasn't good enough.

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7 of 20 LG

LG's GD910 smartwatch phone hybrid

LG's GD910 smartwatch phone debuted at CES 2008, and was released a year later.

It was 13.9mm thick, had tempered glass, and a 1.43-inch diagonal screen. Other features included voice recognition and text to speech.

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8 of 20 Microsoft

The failed SPOT watch

SPOT watches, which later became "Smart Watches with MSN Direct," faded into the sunset. That didn't stop watchmakers like Fossil, Suunto (pictured above), Swatch, and even Tissot from producing various models that used the technology.

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9 of 20 Microsoft

Celebs and Bill Gates rocking the SPOT watch

Is there any photo more ephemeral than this? Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates poses with a SPOT watch along with actress Mischa Barton and G. Nicolas Hayek Jr., CEO of the Swatch Group.

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10 of 20 I'm Watch

I'm Watch

The $449 I'm Watch is one of the newest entrants on the smartwatch block. It lets you view e-mail, calendar, social media updates, and phone information, though CNET found its short battery life and software left much to be desired.

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11 of 20 I'm Watch

I'm Watch links up

The I'm Watch links up to your smartphone to send over calls, texts, and other information.

12 of 20 Fossil

Fossil's smartwatch

This smartwatch foray by Fossil ran Palm OS 4.1 and had a 33MHz processor with 2MB of memory. It emulated some basic PDA features into a wrist-mounted device.

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13 of 20 MetaWatch

The MetaWatch

The MetaWatch is another recent addition to the world of smartwatches. Users can hook it up to their smartphones to get notifications for calls, text messages, e-mails, and social media updates. It also has widgets for other information like weather, stocks, and your calendar.

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14 of 20 MetaWatch

MetaWatch

Another angle on the MetaWatch.

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15 of 20 Motorola

Motorola's MotoACTV

Motorola's MotoACTV tracks workouts and other activity with its built-in GPS and pedometer. It also syncs up with phones to stream music and make use of other sensors. One caveat: You'll need a Motorola handset to use some of its neato features.

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16 of 20 Motorola

The MotoACTV from the side

Motorola's MotoACTV from the side.

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Sony's SmartWatch

Sony's SmartWatch comes in a handful of band colors.

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18 of 20 Sony

Sony's SmartWatch

The SmartWatch comes off its band.

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19 of 20 CNET

The Wimm Labs One

The Wimm Labs One was the first from this company, which entered an exclusive deal with an unnamed company for its technology last year.

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20 of 20 CNET

The Wimm Labs One

The Wimm Labs One could be taken off its band for programming.

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