[Update]: Steve Wozniak signature added
German auction house Team Breker
has rounded up an interesting collection of significant "firsts" from the computing world
for an upcoming auction in Koln, Germany on May 25. Among the items of interest will be a mechanical calculator created by philosopher and physicist Blaise Pascal from the year 1652; the first Intel microprocessor (the 4004) from 1971; a 1975 Altair 8800 said to have started the personal computer revolution, and one of only six known original Apple I computers still in working condition
The "Pascaline" calculator was able to add and subtract two numbers together, and used the "9s complements" principle for multiplication and division which is still used by computers today. According to the auction house, the version they are offering is the only of the 10 known to exist that is not already in a museum. The collection also boasts a portable copying press built by James Watt in the late 18th century, the first item in the world to have been patented. The Pascaline device from 1652 is expected to to sell for between $130,000 and $260,000, while the Watt multiple-copying machine is only estimated to fetch $4,000 to $7,000.
The Intel processor on the block is inside a 1971 Busicom-141PF which may garner between $10,000 and $15,000, while the Altair 8800 is estimated at $4,000 to $7,000, placing the latter on par with Watt's portable copier. Also on offer is an Enigma cyphering machine from the second world war, expected to fetch $20,000-$33,000.
The last working Apple I computer was also auctioned by the German company in November
, and fetched $640,000 -- a record price for such a unit. While there are dozens of Apple I units still around, only six are known to be in functioning order. Breker currently estimates the price of this latest one to be between $260,000 and $400,000. Also on the docket is a complete Apple Lisa system that is expected to sell for $20,000-$40,000. Many other items of historical interest, including particularly rare pre-20th century typewriters from Ford and Edison, a 1905 telephone from Ericsson and Victorian-era mechanical toys.
Update: As has been his habit in recent years, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has autographed the working Apple I computer, adding to its allure for collectors.