We have previously argued here at Gizmag that the rate of technological advancement, which often banishes early iterations of a product to the realms of obsolescence, has obscured the true worth of some of our landmark innovations. As such, sales like the upcoming History of Science auction at Bonhams New York could provide fine opportunities for medium-term investments in rare collectibles, like a 1976 Apple 1 motherboard.
According to Bonhams, around 200 Apple 1 computers were built and were the first pre-assembled personal computers to hit the market. This particular model is believed to be part of a first batch of 50 and was sold for US$666.66 at the time. It is said to be in working order and, complete with vintage keyboard, Sanyo monitor and owner's manual, is expected to attract bids between US$300,000 and $500,000.
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Equally intriguing is the Helmholtz Sound Synthesizer, claimed to be the world's first electric keyboard. Built by Max Kohl in 1905, this brass sound synthesizer sits atop a mahogany base and features 11 small wooden platforms fitted with tuning forks, all connected by wire filaments. These filaments are wired to an African ivory keyboard, the keys of which are numbered and labelled with tones. The synthesizer has an estimated value $20,000 to $30,000.
Also on offer will be a range of scientific documents, as fascinating as they are historically significant. A collection of paintings, sketches and manuscripts created by French physician Antoine-Pierre-Ernest Bazin between 1836 and 1842 explores the anatomy of the respiratory system and has an estimated worth of $10,000 to $15,000. William Withering's An Account of the Foxglove, and Some of its Medical Uses, first published in 1785, documents the physician's discovery of digitalis and its efficacy in treating heart disease across decades of observations and clinical trials.
There are also a handful of antique globes, reflecting telescopes, a handwritten letter from Charles Darwin and a viewing window from the Manhattan Project, through which onlookers would observe the production of plutonium for the Fat Man atomic bomb.
You can click through to the gallery too see our picks from the collection.
Source: BonhamsView gallery - 25 images