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Original Issue


"What happens," the man was explaining, "is that Americans invent and develop something, the Russians claim they did it. and the Japanese make money off of it." Then he pushed back from his lunch of red snapper and took his pulse by placing his finger on his watch. On his watch? Of course. For this man, John M. Bergey, is president of Time Computer, Inc. of Lancaster, Pa., the Pulsar people. And his company has started trying to peddle a, well, it's what we used to call a watch. Only Bergey would like to shame us into thinking that to have just a watch (remember those quaint items with numbers, a big hand, a little hand, and if you were really uptown, a sweep second hand?) is as outdated as wearing fluorescent shoelaces.

Bergey hopes that people will get a serious yearning for what he calls his "personal information and monitoring device" or "the world's first electronic personal pulse indicator worn on the wrist."

Pulsar has made 120 of these pulse-monitoring watches in 14-karat gold. They not only will instantly calculate and display in red numbers your pulse rate (by averaging every two heart beats), but also will tell you the month, day, date and whether it's a.m. or p.m. Oh, yes, if you persist in old-fashioned ideas, the time to the second. If you want to be the first to sport the thing, it costs $2,500. By summer, though, says Pulsar, it will put out a model "for about $395."

The market is supposed to be for the physical-fitness buff—the jogger, for instance, who might want an instant readout on how much stress that extra mile cost him—as well as for the person who wants to show off at cocktail parties.

The electronics of this device (four batteries, two computers) are mystifying. Suffice it to say that the pulse is one of three vital signs (the others being blood pressure and temperature), and a key indicator of health is how long it takes your heart rate to return to normal after vigorous exercise. Bergey hopes that his company may soon have a watch that will take your temperature, although he admits that sticking a watch in your mouth could be cumbersome.

"But for the person who wants to know about his inner secrets and improve his self-awareness." says Bergey, eyeing a visitor's watch with one of Mickey's white gloves broken off the hour hand, "this digital Pulse/Time Computer has an understated elegance that is right for the times."