Back to History More History 
Hamilton - Pulsar - Time Computer 

Copyright 2010

Hamilton Watch Company:   Founded in 1892, Hamilton Watch Co. is one of America �s greatest corporate success stories. Best known for their Railroad pocket watches in the early 20th century, Hamilton later added both men�s and ladies wristwatches to their watch line. In 1958, the Hamilton Watch Division unveiled over 807 different watch models at a sales meeting. Hamilton became a pioneer in miniaturizing parts to build watches. Their innovative spirit helped make them a very profitable company. After 57 years of watch making, with American made watches losing sales to the Swiss & Japanese, management felt it was time to diversify. In 1949, Hamilton ventured outside of watch making with the creation of the Defense Orders Division. This would be the first of many new and exciting ventures for the Hamilton Watch Company. The company was now on a path to become a diversified corporate conglomerate.

There are just too many divisions created over the next 22 years to mention in this abbreviated version of Hamilton history. Most of these divisions came and went inside the �Metals� Division. The Hamilton and Wallace Divisions remained fairly consistent from 1959 to 1971. A big turning point was when Bush Terminal Inc. took control of the company in 1964. In 1969, Hamilton Watch Co. posted the highest profits since its inception. Unfortunately, in 1970, they posted the lowest. This would set in motion the events that many historians have debated for years, in particular, the selling of the watch operation to the Swiss.  

  We hope our simplified explanation below will help in understanding the diagram above:

�Division� - no legal separation, basically they are a partition of the Parent Company. Divisions often have their own key personnel and may appear to be a separate company, but they are not. Because, technically, Divisions are the same company. We have indicated the �Divisions� with dotted lines in our diagram.

"Subsidiary� - a legal entity separate from the Parent Company. This often is done to separate both legal and financial liabilities. Subsidiaries are controlled by the Parent Company because they own all, or a majority (51%) of the Subsidiary�s capital stock. We have used solid lines for the Parent Company, and Subsidiaries, in an effort to simplify this complicated web.


End of an Era:  In November of 1971, the 82 year old Hamilton Watch Co. was restructured. The iconic corporate name would be changed to HMW Industries Inc. (HMW was the ticker symbol on the NYSE). The new name didn�t go into effect until stockholders approved the name change in May of 1972. In the 1971 restructuring, the watch making operation became one of the three new Subsidiaries and was renamed Hamilton Watch Co., Inc. (HWCI). There was also an investor for the new watch company. Aetos, owned by the Swiss firm SSIH, purchased 17% of HWCI capital stock. Aetos had an option for an additional 34% and exercised their option in May of 1974. With the additional 34%, SSIH would have 51%, giving them control of the company. The greatest American watch company was now owned by the Swiss.  Many saw this coming.  Hamilton had not made any watch movements in Lancaster since 1969 and only a percentage of watch assembly was being done in Lancaster . Management at HMW defended the decision, sighting the ongoing loss of sales to foreign competition and the absence of a �competitive edge� in the marketplace.


Pulsar:   To see how the Pulsar timeline fits in Hamilton history, we need to step back to 1966. This was the year Stanley Kubrick commissioned Hamilton to create a futuristic clock for his 1968 movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. The challenges of the Odyssey Clock project were delegated to two Hamilton engineers, Richard S. Walton and John M. Bergey. They were already working on an electronically timed fuse in the Military Division. Ironically, Walton and Bergey had previously discussed applying such technology to the watch & clock industry. In addition to the Clock, there was an Odyssey Watch, both designed by Ken Derr and Edward Speakes. This project was developed in the Watch Division of Hamilton.

After the �Odyssey Project�, Hamilton created the �Electronic Watch Program� which was headed by Richard Walton. Walton challenged other engineers within the company to submit ideas for an electronic watch. Several interesting concepts were evaluated. Bergey worked with engineer Ken Derr to design a mechanical digital watch with a fiber-optic display. The �Optical Display Digital Watch� (patent #3,588,602), was very intriguing but proved impractical to manufacture. Another concept was a �Transducer Watch� with a simulated analog display. There was also work on quartz based analog and LCD watches that nearly made it to production. But the feasibility for any of these watches had little or no promise to put Hamilton back if the forefront.  

The diagram shows us that the �Electronic Watch Program� evolved into the �Pulsar Division�. After many ideas were evaluated, it was clear to management that a digital watch could give them that �competitive edge�. The project�s first big boost was John Bergey�s �Analysis of Decision to Pursue Solid State Watch�. Bergey was soon put in charge of a team to develop a digital watch. This was the beginning of a commitment, by management, that eventually put Hamilton back in the watch business.

After learning that a small instrument company, Electro/Data in Garland Texas , was working on a solid-state watch, Bergey and Walton arranged a meeting. They realized Electro/Data was already �geared� to help develop a digital watch. Ironically, Hamilton had just sold an Instrument Division that would have had the equipment to help develop a solid-state movement.  In December of 1969, Hamilton signed a Development Agreement with Electro/Data. Events and contributions from both sides of this joint venture are extensively covered in the Electro/Data and Pulsar Project sections of this website.


Confusion:   Involvement of the Hamilton Watch Co., in the development of the first solid-state digital watch, has been inaccurately put into print for many years. As you can see from the diagram above, this was very easy to get wrong. To understand, and make sense of all this, you MUST be able to separate Hamilton -- the Parent Company, from Hamilton -- the watch maker.  As Hamilton later became a subsidiary, there should have been little or no confusion.  One Hamilton historian, Don Sauers (Author of Time for America) probably said it best, �The Parent became the Child �.  The fact is, for many, the Hamilton brand name was just too difficult to separate from the decades of making watches.

One of the biggest misnomers is that Hamilton, the watch maker, developed the digital watch. As you follow the diagram, you can see, this isn't the case. Furthermore, when the Pulsar Division was formed, many of the watch making activities were already being done outside of the Lancaster facility.  Before the first Pulsar went to market, the Swiss were already in the process of acquiring the watch making operation, including the �Hamilton� & �H� registered brands. The fact is, the Pulsar Division was conceived, funded, and supported by the Parent Company, not the watch making division. Even after the 1971 restructuring, the Pulsar Project operated within the Pulsar Division, until it became a subsidiary of HMW. The Pulsar Division was also known as "The Pulsar Time Computer Center".

The standard rule for watches made at the Hamilton Watch Division was to display the �H � logo somewhere on the watch, typically on the clasp and watch face.  None of the Pulsar watches displayed the logo.  Instead, �Hamilton Watch Co.� was stamped on the casebacks of the very first Pulsar watches. This is because the Pulsar was not a product of the Hamilton Watch Division, but a product of the Hamilton, the Parent Company.  Why wasn�t HMW or Time Computer, Inc. stamped instead?  First, after restructuring, the HMW name change wasn�t approved until May, one month after the first Pulsars were sold.  Second, although the Time Computer subsidiary was formed in early 1972, it wasn�t chartered (Incorporated) until December.  

As early as February of 1972, �Time Computer� was being used as part of a slogan. Pulsar was being marketed as a �Computer� rather than a wristwatch.  When the new HMW subsidiary was formed, "Time Computer, Inc". was an obvious choice for the company name.  Early on, Time Computer struggled to get proper recognition as the manufacturer.  After the first prototype was introduced in May of 1970, there were two full years of publicity associating Pulsar with Hamilton.  Some early Pulsar brochures, and advertising, stated Pulsar was a Division of HMW (formally Hamilton Watch Co.), then later, a Subsidiary of HMW Industries.  Throughout the production years (1972-1977), Time Computer�s Pulsar enjoyed the limelight in most every form of print. Remarkably, there was an occasional article inaccurately associating Hamilton with the Pulsar.


The Sale of Pulsar:   The �End� is almost as confusing as the beginning. Again, looking at our diagram, you can see Time Computer was still in business in the early 80�s. Every article we have ever read had Time Computer out of business in 1977-1978. It has always been reported that Seiko ended up with all of the Time Computer trademarks and patents. This also is incorrect. In fact, none of the 20 or so patents ever left Time Computer. What was up for sale were the Brands and inventory, not the company or patents. During the production years, Time Computer granted royalty licenses for their patents. These royalties would be needed to fund the Warranty program. There are records indicating Time Computer remained a subsidiary of HMW for several more years, but they seemed to have disappeared around 1984.

Slumping sales and the advancements in LCD technology were a big part of the demise of Time Computer. Another contributing factor was a massive inventory, mostly a result of lack of interest in the international markets. The Pulsar S. A. Division (effective in 1975), didn�t get the expected response to Pulsar that the USA experienced. Maybe without the Pulsar S. A. inventory, TCI may have been able to survive. Time Computer President John Bergey�s philosophy was to market the Pulsar as a �wrist instrument� by developing models with unique features. The Calculator and Pulse/Time models were the first of these �wrist instruments�. Both proved to be very profitable. Unfortunately, the losses from excessive inventory dragged Time Computer down before other unique features they developed could be marketed.

Interestingly, John Bergey was given the first chance to buy Pulsar before it was offered to Hamilton (SSIH). After both declined, negotiations with Rhapsody, Inc. of Philadelphia resulted in an agreement. Time Computer sold their registered brands, Pulsar & Time Computer, to Rhapsody Inc. on the 1st of July, 1977.  Rhapsody was also granted a license to manufacture digital watches. The TCI-Rhapsody agreement included the transfer of existing watch inventory and any watches that could still be assembled. Time Computer President John Bergey�s last day was August 1st,  just 30 days after the sale. Assemblers were kept on at the Lancaster facility to put together and complete as many watches as inventoried parts would allow. At the time, it was estimated they had enough parts to assemble watches for the next 5-6 months. Production Manager Harry Mirick would stay on until all inventoried parts were exhausted. Years of frustration among collectors as to what watch goes in what box just went out the window. It seems there were no rules. Whatever box that was available was packaged to complete the shipment. This explains some other anomalies, like non-corresponding bracelet dates and incorrect labels.


Rhapsody:   How many completed Pulsars that were actually shipped to Rhapsody is unknown. But from documents, we were able to piece together what models they would have been. There were the obvious P4 and Calculator models from 1976. The Stainless Pulse/Time was already developed and in production by early 1977. Documents suggest 10-15,000 units were made, so these certainly were among the inventory. The Emerald Green and Touch-Command Dress models were also in the bunch, as well as the Men�s & Ladies Sport. There was also the inventory from the Pulsar S. A. Division. These would be all of the Ladies Touch-Command, and the solid gold Men�s & Ladies Touch-Commands. The Euro-styled Calculators would complete the balance of the S. A. inventory. Finally, there were the LCD models which were already scheduled to be introduced to the public within days of the sale.  

For the next 12-14 months, Rhapsody continued to supply the existing worldwide dealer network with Pulsars. On the back cover of the last and final Pulsar brochure, Rhapsody was acknowledged as the owner of the �Pulsar� and �Time Computer� brands. They also listed �BigTime�, another registered brand included in the Time Computer agreement. Although Rhapsody could have continued to manufacture Pulsar watches, in September of 1978, they liquidated their inventory to David Rosenaur of California and sold the brands to the Seiko Corporation of Japan.  As of today, the only trademark maintained by Seiko is Pulsar.  


Service Center:   Time Computer Inc. set up a Service Center to repair and honor their warranty. According to the agreement, watches sold by Rhapsody were also included in the program. Rhapsody reduced the three-year warranty to one year for the Pulsars they sold. Watches assembled in Lancaster, after the TCI-Rhapsody agreement, were marked inside the caseback to indicate the new one year warranty. There was also a one and two year Re-Warranty Program so many warranty combinations existed. If you come across a date or two inscribed inside your Pulsar, you know how and why it got there.

The new Service Center was located just down the road from the original factory. It was headed by Time Computer�s Service manager, Ed (Eddie) Radcliff. A percentage of parts from the factory had been set aside for the Service Center.  Some of the machinery was moved from the original facility to the new location. All watch parts and modules, still in the regional Service Centers, were called in by Time Computer. Thirteen women from the original workforce were employed to continue building electronic modules and service watches. In most instances, if a nonworking Pulsar came in for repair or under warranty, the module was simply replaced. Only very minor module repair (quartz and reed replacement) was done at the Service Center. With a high demand for service, Time Computer bought back the watches Rhapsody liquidated to Rosenaur. Both warranty and non-warranty work was done at the Service Center.  In addition to module and time screen replacement, case and bracelet refinishing was offered.

In 1982, the Service Center became privately owned. Eventually, there was only one of the women left.  Module parts were depleted and the demand for service bottomed out. Thousands of Pulsar boxes were shipped to the local dump. Radcliff and his son, Greg, used a nail-set and hammer to punch out and remove the buttons from thousands of watch cases. The buttons were scraped for the small amount of Platinum in the magnets. After the Service Center closed in 1988, Greg moved some parts into his basement to service local Pulsar owners around the Lancaster area.  It was the early 90�s when Tom Reindl (Pulsar Tom) drew the interest of Japanese collectors.  Radcliff started to sell what he had left. If only Radcliff had known how collectable the Pulsar LED would become, he would have held on to everything. 

Commentary:   It may take the next 30-40 years to undo the perception that Pulsar was a product of Hamilton�s �Watch Division�.  We can only hope the younger, and next generations, will find this website and can erase what has tainted history. As long as the exploitation continues, this will remain a challenge. The first instance was in 2002 when the new Swiss Hamilton Version of the original Pulsar P3 was portrayed in the MIIB movie. It was marketed as a �Hamilton�,  with no explanation of any rights or proper credits. Once again, in 2010, the Swiss owned Hamilton markets the Pulsomatic, a disturbing attempt to replicate the original Pulsar P2.  Shamelessly, they claim it is a 40 year anniversary to a watch they had nothing to do with. There would be no problem if credit was respectfully offered, but instead, they claim full credit for the history behind developing the Pulsar. If there is one company in the world who knows the facts, it�s the Swiss owned Hamilton of today. With the absence of the �original� Hamilton, there is no legal recourse to challenge them. It may be interesting to see how Seiko looks at this. They just might have something to say about the Pulsomatic name.  


Peter D. Petroff: In 2003, there was a news article from the Associated Press that went out world-wide after the death of Peter Petroff.  After reading the ridiculous claim that Peter D. Petroff �invented the Digital watch�, we naturally contacted the author. In an email, we were told that the obituary was submitted by the family. We asked if the claims being made were checked for accuracy.  We were told,  "we just took the family for their word". For those that don't know, Obituaries (notices of death) are submitted and paid for by the family. A family member can provide fabricated information without verification. Because the claims made in the obituary are not true, any publication using such reference can also be deemed untrue. The obituary is the only reference that can be used because Peter Petroff did not "invent the digital watch". There simply are no records on this planet that support the claim made in the Peter Petroff obituary -- other than the obituary itself.

   If only the AP would have checked the facts, they would have found a well documented timeline that refutes the claim. The first digital watch had already been patented and introduced almost two years before Peter D. Petroff entered the picture.  The truth is,  Peter Petroff did not "devise", "develop", or "invent" the digital watch.  Petroff's involvement with Electro/Data was long after and short lived, only seven months.  Before the Pulsar went to market, Petroff had already been replaced.  So another claim that Petroff "brought to market the first digital watch" also can not be true.

   Because of the lack of diligence for such an important part of our history, the internet is littered with inaccurate information about Petroff and the digital watch. This also led to the claim that Peter Petroff was a "Prolific inventor".  We did our own patent search and found five patents filed by Peter D. Petroff.  Ironically, all five patents were for measuring the flow of  sewer waist .  . . . we're not kidding.  These five patents are all basically the same patent. The last four patents are just modifications of the first patent,  filed in 1978. So we have to ask, is one patent "prolific", we don't think so. There were many other claims made in the obituary but we found no other patents. None for a watch, none for heart rate monitoring, and nothing related to NASA technology -- all we found is the sewer waist meter. We've provided a link below for you to see for yourself.

   Our Google search revealed two articles (links below) from people Peter Petroff worked with in the past. We found them to be entertaining as well. As you will read, they too were not happy about the claims. Obviously Peter D. Petroff wasn't the "inventor of  the digital watch" and when you read these accounts, there seems to be more evidence to question some other Petroff claims.  We spoke to other Electro-Data engineers that had similar sentiments about Peter D. Petroff. One engineer told us that Petroff spent most of his time at Care Electronics in Alabama and very little time at the Electro/Data Texas facility. He said he rarely saw Peter before Petroff was let go.

Bottom line: It would be absurd for anyone to historically credit Peter Petroff with this invention -- in any sense.  A simple visit to the Smithsonian website, or researching any of  the many books written over the past forty or so years, would grossly refute this claim. We have had this information for several years, but have held back out of respect for the passing of Mr. Petroff.  Due to the persistent effort from some to bring forth these false claims, we feel we had no choice but to take a more aggressive approach by including the facts on this website.  Please understand, it wasn't our idea to try and change history. 

 " if it isn't fact . . . it's fiction "


Please direct any questions here


    Copyright 2010-2011, 

No portions of this article may be reproduced without permission.   











  cialis efectos secundarios cialis 5 mg kamagra reviews sildenafil efectos secundarios cialis 5 mg kamagradirekt 25 mg viagra not working generisk viagra cialis efectos viagra efectos secundarios pros y contras sildenafil virkningstid cialis online pharmacy viagra wiki comprar viagra soft Viagra impotens K?b Viagra uden recept donde comprar cialis online levitra levitra alcohol Erektil Dysfunktion