Batteries not Included

A man named Jake is struggling through a bus station with two huge and obviously heavy suitcases when a stranger comes up behind him and asks Have you got the time?

Jake sighs, puts down the suitcases and turns around. After glancing at his wrist he says it's about a quarter to six.

Hey, that's a pretty fancy watch, exclaims the stranger. Jake brightens a little. Yeah, it's not bad. Check this out, and he shows him a time zone display not just for every time zone in the world, but for the 86 largest metropoli. He hits a few buttons and from somewhere on the watch a voice says

"The time is eleven 'til six" in a very West Texas accent. A few more buttons and the same voice says something in Japanese. Jake continues I've put in regional accents for each city.

The display is unbelievably high quality for a mere watch, and the voice is simply astounding - smooth and perfectly audible, without the tinny sound you might expect from a speaker that could fit on a watch. The stranger is struck dumb with admiration.

That's not all, says Jake. He pushes a few more buttons it has more than a dozen and a tiny but very high resolution map of New York City appears on the display. If we were outside, Jake says apologetically, it could show you where we were by satellite positioning, but under this roof all it can do is remember my last position and a map of the surrounding area. View recede ten, he adds to the watch, and the display changes to show eastern New York state.

It responds to voice? gasps the stranger, and Jake nods enthusiastically. But I haven't got it all programmed yet, most of the functions are still button-activated.

I want to buy that watch, says the stranger. Oh, no, it's not ready for sale yet; I'm still working out the bugs, says the inventor. But look at this: and he proceeds to demonstrate that the watch is also a very creditable little FM radio receiver with a digital tuner, a sonar device that can measure distances up to 125 meters as well as trigger the stopwatch function for close racing finishes, a pager with thermal paper printout and, most impressive of all to the now drooling listener, has capacity for voice recordings of up to 300 standard size books, though I only have 32 of my favourites in there so far, says Jake. He starts up The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein, and although the stranger has never heard of either he can still hear those amazing un-tinny voices coming out of the normal-sized watch on Jake's wrist.

I've got to have that watch, he says.
No, you don't understand; it's not ready
I'll give you $1000 for it.
Oh, no, I've already spent more than $8000.
I'll give you $10000 for it.
But it's just not done.
I'll give you $15000 for it. And the stranger pulls out a chequebook. I've just *got* to have that watch.
But.... Jake stops to think. He's only put about $8500 into materials and development, and with $15,000 he could make another one and have it ready for merchandising in only another half a year. $15000?

The stranger frantically finishes writing the check and waves it in front of him. Here it is, ready to hand to you right here and now.

Jake abruptly makes his decision. Ok, he says, and peels off the watch. They make the exchange, the check for the watch, and the stranger starts happily away.

Hey, wait a minute, calls Jake after the stranger, who turns around warily. Jake indicates the two suitcases he'd been trying to wrestle through the bus station. Don't you want the batteries?