When it came to ways to get technology into your day-to-day life, Casio had some pretty big ideas. Looking in hindsight from the vantage point of a world that has all-in-one smartphones in it, the number of big ideas they had really stands out. And that’s sort of the problem for Casio: they were all individual ideas, single-task devices that excelled at one thing. That’s probably a safe bet to make as a company – up until someone makes a device that can do everything and makes all of your hard work pointless.
Still, let’s applaud Casio for their innovation. I won’t even get into the watches here, because those are bananas and deserve their own spotlight. Let’s just look at a few of the other siloed devices that would eventually all get wrapped into a smartphone.
How else can an on-the-go business man keep track of his work and personal life? The Data Cal has two astonishing features: it’s a finger-friendly calculator that fits in your pocket AND a databank for phone numbers. Before this baby, businessmen had to carry full Rolodexes (Rolodices?) around with them. Imagine the space savings! This sort of thing must have been necessary; the commercial positions the businessman as a complete idiot without his technology, an ominous foreshadowing of our current state. His poor, exasperated wife.
Digital Diary/Secret Sender
It’s texting. It’s a texting device. I guess the diary aspect of it is sort of like texting yourself. Again, in a pre-smartphone world this is a pretty appealing idea. It’s sort of like a walkie-talkie, except with text. It’s texting.
The grand promise of the ‘80s, a television you could carry around in your pocket. Never mind the flimsy resolution, the strained reception, the absurdity of holding this thing to watch any program and actually pull any enjoyment from the act. It’s a portable television. Pretty big deal, and I’m not being sarcastic. This is the best looking ad yet.
It feels right to finish with a product that smartphones still can’t do (as of this post), one that also becomes hilarious when marketed at kids. It’s the Casio Label Zone, encouraging children to (Yo!) put a label on it. Pre-Portlandia.