“Nostalgia is a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days.”

Doug Larson

Ah, the humble calculator watch, an object that seems as mysterious as it is mundane. At its core, it’s an elegant solution to a problem—the need for quick calculations at our fingertips. But let’s delve deeper, for in its simplicity and function, we can unravel a wealth of intriguing stories about our adolescent selves.

Now, cast your mind back to that magical time of your youth when you strapped on a calculator watch for the first time. That Casio—dark as a starless night and seemingly loaded with boundless potential—felt like a sleek new sports car right on your wrist. Mine was so alluring it was as if it gave off its own gravitational pull—drawing in not only the curious and envious glances of my peers, but also the covetous intentions of a thief. It was too hot to handle and one fateful day, vanished from my wrist.

Could the loss of my cool mathematical companion be the spark that ignited a life-long aversion to mathematics? Could this explain why it still takes me a (long) second to do simple math in my head? Without this trusty device, always ready to crunch numbers at a moment’s notice, perhaps my relationship with math got fractured—making even simple calculations a hurdle!

...Probably not. But it makes for a good origin story.

Intriguingly, the presence of the calculator watch in my younger days could also explain my less-than-stellar romantic résumé. This technological marvel might have silently broadcasted a signal that was more ‘geek’ than ‘chic’, causing potential admirers to swerve away.

…Again, probably not.

But pause for a moment, and consider this—why, of all things, a calculator on a watch? It begs the question, are we in such dire need of computing square roots and percentages that we must carry a mini-computer strapped to our wrists? Not to mention that you had to have surgeon-like hands and precision to press the buttons accurately!

Fast forward to today, and we see these nostalgic accessories making a subtle resurgence. A friend of mine recently acquired a vibrant, pink one. Although, interestingly, I’ve yet to witness her attempting any serious arithmetic on it. Is it possible that these revived timepieces serve more as fashion statements than functional tools?

Actually, maybe that was always the case.

The resurgence of the calculator watch tells us something about the nature of our connections with the past. Sometimes, we crave the simplicity and charm of yesteryears—even if it comes in the form of a gadget that is arguably more style than substance. The calculator watch is a testament to our fondness for the familiar, a badge of honor for those willing to embrace their own geeky past.

And therein lies the true allure of these computational chronometers: they encapsulate the narrative of our own unique journey, from the classrooms of our youth to the ever-evolving landscapes of our adult lives.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Brand & Community at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2024 Stephen Boudreau.