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IBM stuffs Linux into “Dick Tracy’s watch”

Aug 7, 2000 — by Rick Lehrbaum — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

To prove it could be done, Big Blue has developed a prototype wristwatch communicator running on Linux. This story from ZDNet explains what IBM's up to, and why . . .

New York, NY — IBM said on Monday that researchers are running the Linux operating system on a prototype wristwatch device, in a research test designed to show that Linux can be used as the basic software on the smallest devices.

“Designed to communicate wirelessly with PCs, cell phones and other wireless-enabled devices, the 'smart watch' will have the ability to view condensed email messages and directly receive pager-like messages,” IBM said in a statement.

However, IBM does not have plans to commercialize the Linux watch itself, a spokeswoman said. “This is just a research prototype,” said Takako Yamakura. “Some say Linux cannot be scaled down. This is just to show Linux is capable of doing this.”

Furthering the goal The Linux operating system is seen as an alternative to Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system and is popular with programmers for its open source code, which allows programmers to develop and tinker with programs.

“Several benefits accrue from the use of Linux in small pervasive devices,” IBM said in the statement. “The availability of source code and a well-understood application programming environment makes it easy for students, researchers, and software companies to add new features and develop applications.”

Linux, which was developed by Finnish programmer Linus Torvalds, is used for many basic functions of Web sites, but is not yet considered mature enough for heavier business tasks. IBM has been working to develop the system for everything from the wristwatch to supercomputers.

“With Linux rapidly becoming an industry standard, it's important that developers be able to create new applications across all platforms, including pervasive devices, and the intent of IBM's research is to further that work,” IBM said.

Related story:
Fact sheet (& photos): IBM Linux wrist watch prototype
Closeup photo: IBM Linux watch display

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