Tech Tock: Casio Data Bank Watches
Can you think of anything more emblematic of 80's geek culture than a Casio Data Bank calculator watch? Here for your visual consumption is a collection of Casio Data Bank watches on display so you can witness a few of the models and variants that have existed over the years. Behold designs that date back from 1985 to the present with the newest model still being produced and sold today.
Here it is! One of original Casio Data Banks, the DBC-610 it represents the oldest design in this collection. This is the first model that incorporated the cool looking (hard to use) membrane keyboard. This model offered an led backlight for calculating in the dark. Perhaps the most elegant and subdued of the Data Banks, it was available in Black, but looked especially nice in this satin Stainless Steel variant, which had a matte, brushed appearance. If subdued is not your thing, for the ultimate in geek bling, this model was also available in a Gold version. This was originally released in 1985, then due to its popularity, was re-released making it hard to tell which ones were the originals or the newer ones.
This 1990 DBX-103 adds a familiar qwerty design with an alphanumeric keypad. It boasts a larger screen and oval raised acrylic-like keys that improve the tactile feedback when using the tiny keypad. This model, unlike most of the Data Banks did not offer an upscale variation in silver or stainless steel, it was black only, and oddly did not have a backlight.
The Casio Data Bank DBC-1500 debuted in 1992, it added more memory as well as the popular Illuminator backlight which provided an even distribution of Electroluminescent blue-green light over the entire display. Its keyboard continued with raised keys over a membrane.This version is the dressier stainless steel model, it was also available in a utilitarian black resin model.
As the Casio Data Bank watches evolved, so too did the array of models with specialized features like remote controls and voice recorders. Here is a DCB-V500 that was capable of recording 5 voice memos (30 seconds total duration) with it's Easy Rec feature.
Pictured is the Easy Rec capable Data Bank alongside it's close relative the DCB-1500. It was in this time period that the Casio Data Bank watches were offered with the most options in features and models.
The next evolution of Data Bank is the e-data line. Dubbed the EDB-610, it featured the ability to store email addresses and arrives with a unique dual color display. To the left you can see the black color in the clock text and the blue color on the icons. It too came in two color variations; one with a black rubber band, and another more business like version that was silver with white keys and a stainless steel band. These models are rare and expensive to acquire today. It featured a bold design with a large almost rounded display and buttons grouped in three visually connected rows under the screen. It is perhaps one of the most dramatic looking of the Data banks. This model also sports water resistance up to 30 meters.
This is the newest Data Bank calulator watch it features a new design with an even larger screen than the previous model. The backlight this time is an amber colored LED. This is the DBC-32 model, and amber led because both the silver and the black versions are resin so these watches are really quite light and feel kinda cheap upon first impression. It adds a cool new feature, Auto LED which turns on the backlight when the watch is tilted towards your face. The DCB-32 also boasts water resistance up to 50 meters and a claimed 10 year battery life!
It is not uncommon for the Casio Data Bank watches be offered in Silver and Black color variants, above is the DBC-32 in Black (with the stainless steel band custom added from the Silver model). But if you are looking for something infinitely more attention getting, this particular generation of Data Bank is also available in several color variations. There are models in Pink, White, Teal, Green, Yellow, as well as and Black with Red and White keys, and Black with Dark Red and White keys. But if you have fallen in love with one of these colorful Casios, be warned, these are very rare and expensive.
These two Data Bank models allow for Telememo storage but do not feature calculators. The DB-33W was released in 1993 and has a futuristic design that is reminiscent of the Comlink from Knight Rider. It has a button on its face that looks like a dial, but is just a button. The DB-57W from 1990 also features unique and futuristic looks with large print buttons that look like the were lifted off another device. This watch is very rare and can fetch hundreds of dollars in mint condition.
Neither of these Data Banks had backlit displays but both the DB-57W and the DB-33W featured water resistance of 50 meters.
This is a touch screen enabled Casio VDB-101 from 1995. This Data Bank is based on the more mainstream VDB-200. This version was part of a funky youth-oriented line called Invisible Machine that was not sold in the U.S. This is the Blue Limited Edition, however, it was also available in white, yellow, light orange, and green (perhaps others). Unlike the more business-like VDB-200 it had a logo that appeared behind the digits when the backlight was activated. Below is an ad from the period featuring the touch screen Data Bank and calling the watches "wrist wear organizers". Keep in mind this was in the time before smartphones, even PDAs, and digital organizers were popular. Along the bottom of the ad are other Data Banks from Casio's lineup.
In this group shot you can see you can see the design progression of the Casio Data Bank calculator watches. Note the changes in keyboards, the size of the screen, as well as differences in complexity and simplicity of the designs. Which one is your favorite?
Here a very inexpensive knock off calculator watch (on the right) is compared with the original Casio Data Bank DBC-1500 that inspired it's design. This watch features glow in the dark keys and at around $11.00 it is actually not a bad watch, especially considering how much vintage Casio Data Banks can cost. Your best bet however, if you are thinking about dipping your geeky toes into acquiring a Data Bank is to buy one of the new and easy to find DCB-32, for around $35.00 with allot of new features and a ten year battery. Below is a gallery of additional photos of the Casio Data Bank collection, Enjoy!