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Puma revives its classic 1986 smart shoe, complete with high-tech heel hump

The First Computerized Running Shoe 1986: The Puma COMDEX RS Computer

If you missed your chance to win a pair of Marty McFly’s self-lacing Nike sneakers, then how about grabbing a pair of Puma’s smart shoes that hark back from the same era instead?

You may be surprised to learn that the sportswear firm did indeed dabble in the market for high-tech footwear back in the mid-1980s, though as the world (as well as the technology itself) wasn’t quite ready for Puma’s innovation, its effort pretty much disappeared without a trace.

But Puma’s RS-Computer Shoe is making a comeback … fortunately with better technology than the original.

The first version of the shoe from 1986 had a custom-designed computer chip inside a protruding heel that automatically recorded the time, distance, and calories expended. The data could then be uploaded to an Apple IIe or Commodore 64 PC using a 16-pin cord. Yes, Puma did this all the way back in 1986.

The relaunched shoe retains the overall design, as well as the distinctive heel hump that screams, “Look at me, I’m wearing a computer on my feet.” But thanks to the invention of the smartphone, as well as the arrival of much-improved components, the shoe’s smarts have been updated for the 21st century.

The 2018 edition replicates the original experience, but now you can use Bluetooth to connect to a smartphone with the dedicated RS-Computer Shoe app, while the shoe’s battery charges via a USB connector. In a nod to the old days, the app uses some clunky-looking 80s-style graphics and also includes a game with a similar look.


Here’s a closer look at the RS-Computer Shoe, courtesy of Puma’s website:

Sensors: Each shoe is equipped with a miniature 3-axis accelerometer, which is used to measure the number of steps taken, distance traveled, and calories burned.

Wireless Technology: The RS-Computer Shoe has a Bluetooth 4.0 radio transceiver and can be connected to an Android or iOS mobile phone. Once the Bluetooth is turned on, the shoe records and delivers data to the RS-Computer Shoe app.

Memory: The shoe can record for 30 days’ worth of data. Every new month is a fresh start. Throughout the month the runner can access all the stored data in a Monthly Statistics tab.

Keys and LED Light Indicators: There are two keys, Key 1 (Red/Red LED) and Key 2 (Black/Green LED). KEY 1 is used to show daily step target status, which can be set in the RS-Computer App while KEY 2 shows battery status.

Rechargeable Battery: The RS-Computer Shoe has an on-board rechargeable lithium-polymer battery. The battery can be recharged using the USB cable provided with the shoes. 

If you’re keen to get your hands on (or your feet into) a pair of Puma’s retro running shoes, you’ll have to be quick … and very lucky. The company is only selling 86 pairs globally from December 13 at Puma stores in Tokyo, London, and Berlin, as well as at select Kith stores. Some pairs will be available online for shoppers in the U.S. and Japan. The price is yet to be announced.

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Trevor Mogg
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