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The 5 Coolest Things Up For Grabs At Bonhams' History Of Science Auction

Published On 10/20/2014 Published On 10/20/2014

Calling all science geeks, calling...well, everyone. 

It's time to dip into your savings accounts and make some room in your living rooms, because Bonhams auction house in New York City is about to launch its inaugural History Of Science auction. It's offering up a whole mess of rare and one-of-a-kind scientific and technological items from the early 16th century through present day, from a viewing window used to watch the Manhattan Projects' atom bomb tests to a functioning Apple 1 computer.

Below, the five most exciting items.

Remaining photos: Bonhams

Helmholtz Sound Synthesizer

$20,000-$30,000
This dizzying platform, chock full of metal cylinders, knobs, and what can only be described as doohickies, may look like an old-school polygraph test, but it's actually the world's first electric keyboard. It took over 100 years of evolution to get the Yamaha synthesizers onstage in sold-out arena concerts we recognize today, but as they say, you've got to start somewhere.

Personal Autographed Charles Darwin Letter

$20,000-$30,000
This piece of correspondence from the father of evolution was sent to a colleague in 1857, and is peppered with questions to him about the reproductive habits of barnacles. Steamy stuff, people.

Manhattan Project Viewing Window

$150,000-$250,000
Purchased from the government by a salvage operator back in the day (for its metal window casements), this yellow-ish leaded glass panel was one of several viewing windows behind which the Manhattan Project scientists watched tests.

Originally installed in the Hanford Site in southeastern Washington, it stands roughly five by three feet, weighs 1,500 pounds, and is six inches thick. And for the record, they claim it's not radioactive, so that's good.

Archives From Pioneering Astronomer/Photographer George Willis Ritchey

$450,000-$550,000
All those stunning images of space taken from the Hubble Telescope? Those wouldn't exist without much of the research and study done by Ritchey, who in addition to being regarded as the most important astronomical photographer in history, was a hugely influential designer of telescopes.

Apple 1 Computer

$200,000-$300,000
These days it's a regular event for Apple to release world-changing products every few years, but well before it was one of the most valuable brands on Earth, Apple was pioneering what would eventually be known as Apple 1, the first-ever pre-assembled personal computer, in Steve Jobs' Palo Alto garage.

The one here is from the first batch of 50, released in 1976, and has been confirmed operational by an Apple 1 expert as of August of this year, though you'll probably want to stick to the Air if you want to actually get anything done.


Joe McGauley is a senior editor at Supercompressor. He was a terrible, nay, abominable science student.

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