A History of Timewise

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The TIMEWISE timeline...

Timewise was started in 1976 as an electronic design and manufacturing company specializing in automotive rally equipment. The company's charter was to develop high quality, innovative rally computers and timing instruments. A primary idea was to simplify the designs used in competitive products while increasing usability and reliability. To do so, all products would be designed with the recently introduced single-chip microcontroller products from integrated circuit manufacturers.

The Timewise name was coined to represent the concept of accuracy and precision, with the additional intent that the name would be easily associated with products used for timing applications. (By the way, the word Timewise was derived from "Samwise Gamgee", a character in the J.R.R. Tolkien The Lord of the Rings trilogy.)

An initial design concept for a TSD rally computer was developed by 1977. Within several months, a prototype unit was completed. The product was named Model 785A. The 785A would become the first commercially available TSD rally computer that used a single printed circuit board within the main body of the product. The compact design, quality displays and switches, as well as sturdy metal case with mounting bracket, would come to exemplify the premium rally equipment typical of Timewise. The 785A also introduced new features to the rallying community, most significant of which were the adjustability of split parameters and the Retro-CAST function. A Retro-CAST allows you to correct a CAST following the speed change with automatic retroactive correction to the calculated time. To this day, no other rally equipment manufacturer so efficiently employs these essential features. Model 785A computers were sold from 1978 through 1984.

(By the way, most of the 785A's firmware was developed using an IMSAI 8048 Control Computer. In fact, due to limited memory, BCD multiplication and division firmware routines developed for execution on the IMSAI 8048 were by necessity so compact and fast that the same native computer code is used today. The IMSAI 8048, released in mid 1977, has its own interesting history. Just like the Timewise 785A, the IMSAI 8048 used the new Intel 8048 microcontroller and can be considered the first "notebook" computer as it came in a three ring loose leaf binder. In fact, it is generally considered the first single board computer built. The single board system contained I/O buffers and relays, an LED display, keyboard, memory, and communication interfaces. Only a few hundred IMSAI 8048 Control Computers were manufactured. The original IMSAI 8048 used to develop the 785A has been sold.)

During the 1980s, Timewise introduced additional rally odometers, rally clocks, and full featured rally computers. The ultra-compact Model 538B dual odometer and clock allowed the rallyist to select either "hundredths of minutes" or "seconds" via the front panel. This feature was a first to the world of rallying. The 538B was a workhorse. Its rugged design and simple operation added to its popularity.

A more elaborate dual odometer and clock, the Model 526B, was introduced in 1984. The 526B provided a five-digit display for the odometers and a six-digit time of day clock. In addition, the 526B allowed use of a six-digit factor. These innovations were "firsts" in the world of rally equipment. Used 526Bs are still very much in demand.

In 1986 the One Lap of America and ALCAN 5000 rallies encouraged the use of rally computers for their long journeys. Timewise decided this was an opportunity to develop a new rally computer better suited for such long adventures. Within a four month period, an entirely new TSD rally computer, called the Model 796A, was conceived, developed, and delivered to dozens of eager rallyists. The 796A introduced significant new features to the rally world that are now on every rallyists list of requirements: instant updates for combined odometer and calculated time adjustments, instant factor calculations, and simple clock setting procedures with synchronization capabilities.

Also in 1986, Timewise started a cleaning and repair service for the semi-antique Curta mechanical calculator. The Curta calculator is often used in vintage car rallies. Because the Curta requires regular maintenance, Timewise undertook the responsibility of providing this essential service to vintage rally participants. By arrangements with retired Curta service personnel, Timewise acquired factory assembly tools and new replacement parts, and became the only recognized source for Curta repair in North America. The popularity of eBay has also significantly increased the interest in these mechanical marvels. As a result, the call for Curta repair service continues to grow.

Perhaps holding more true to its name, Timewise introduced in 1991 a much requested battery operated checkpoint timer, the Model 610 Multi-Split Chronometer. This simple but essential checkpoint instrument allowed 21 split times to be collected and reviewed one by one. The 610 included the ability to alternate between "seconds" and "hundredths of minutes" after the clock was set. This desirable feature as well as an automatic master/slave electronic synchronization capability, became standard features in all subsequent Timewise products. To be certain that a checkpoint worker did not lose the critical time of day, no on/off power switch was included. Still, the 610 operates for nearly a year without changing batteries. Almost every 610 produced continues to be used today.

The 796A rally computer was upgrade to the Model 797A in 1989. Additional switches and displays were added to make adjustments quicker. The 797A provided two odometer sensor inputs and multiple factors, a feature often requested by off-road rallyists. An extra digit of resolution in the main odometer allowed adjustment of the main odometer in thousandths of mile increments (with simultaneous correction to the calculated time). This later feature became an absolute necessity for all rallyists. More 797A rally computers are currently in use than any other single TSD computer.

The Model 547B Rally Odometer was introduced in 1995. This dual odometer, clock, and extra timer included all features of previous "B-class" models, plus many new innovations. The 547B was the first rally odometer to allow automatic synchronization of its clock to Timewise multi-split chronometers. The 547B is still in production.

In 1999, Timewise introduced a product specifically designed for the Great American Race. This annual extravaganza of antique cars, small town parades, big city special events, and family entertainment is all based around a driving and navigating challenge that requires a high resolution, extremely accurate, and very repeatable speedometer. To satisfy the needs of Great Race competitors, while staying in compliance with event regulations, Timewise developed the Model 825 Great Race Compliant Electronic Speedometer. This analog appearing speedometer is fully digital inside to provide an extremely accurate and repeatable indication of speed. The large diameter analog dial gives interpretable resolution of 0.05 mph. No other analog reading speedometer provides the accuracy, repeatability, and readable resolution, as well as the temperature and humdity insensitivity of the Model 825. The hardware and firmware design of the Model 825 produce a smooth analog needle movement with rapid response, while simultaneously disregarding minor speed changes due to rough roads. In the Great Race, over 90% of the contestants use the Timewise Model 825 Electronic Speedometer.

Also in 1999, Timewise introduced the culmination of TSD rally computers, the Model 798A. The 798A is the most powerful and comprehensive rally computer available. Extra display digits increased display resolution for both time and distance. A very significant innovation called Post-Alignment, allows the rallyist to change the mileage at the last CAST execution point, with automatic correction to the calculated time. The 798A will be without equal for many years to come.

The most recent Timewise product to be introduced is the Model 650 Multi-Split Chronometer. This handheld time of day clock replaced the 610, which had been out of production for several years. The new 650 holds 50 split times in memory and can be operated in many different counting modes. As in other current Timewise products, an electronic synchronization procedure is included.

Timewise continues to innovate new computerized products for the car rally world. With the growing interest in "Pro- rally" stage events, Timewise will be developing future products applicable to that specific branch of the sport . Watch these pages for updates!

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32 Old Barn Road
Hawthorn Woods, Illinois 60047
United States
Email Jack Christensen at: contact.timewise@gmail.com

This page last updated Thursday, November 5, 2015