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Three centuries of geek-milestone devices in one epic auction

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This Apple-1 is believed to be one of only a half dozen still functioning. (Credit: Auction Team Breker)

By Eric Mack, CNET

A German "Auction of Firsts" includes relics and creations from tech luminaries from Pascal to Woz and Jobs.

Attention early adopters: That first-edition Google Glass hardware is likely to be gathering dust a few years from now as the technology gets seriously revved (or falls victim to paranoid lawmakers and pub owners), but don't toss it out!

If an auction later this month of computing and other technological blasts from the past is any indication, it could pay off to hold on to those obsolete gadgets that were once on the cutting edge, even just briefly.

The highlight of the sale, planned for May 25 by German auction house Breker, is an original, working Apple-1, one of only 200 that were produced and 50 that are believed to still exist. Last year, Sotheby's auctioned off just an original Apple-1 motherboard for $374,500.

The lot up later this month includes all the system components, plus the original manual and a letter to the original owner signed by Steve Jobs. Breker sold another Apple-1 for a record $640,000 at a previous auction, and estimates that this one -- the auction house claims it is one of only six functioning systems -- could fetch up to $400,000.

While the Apple-1 and its younger sibling, the Apple Lisa-1, are the auction lots with the greatest name recognition, the three centuries of technological history represented in this "Auction of Firsts" stretch from a replica of Blaise Pascal's 17th century mechanical calculator to the machines that brought about revolutions in recording, encryption, and, of course, personal computing.

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(Credit: Auction Team Breker)

Another Apple first in the May 25 auction is one of the first mouse-controlled systems, the Lisa-1. It had a very short run in the 1980s before giving way to the more reliable Lisa-2 and eventually, the Macintosh. Breker estimates it will fetch up to $40,000 at auction.

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(Credit: Auction Team Breker)

The MITS Altair 8800 from 1974 pre-dated Apple and is often credited with kicking off the age of the PC. The Altair made headlines in early 1975 and also inspired Jobs and Woz, Bill Gates and Paul Allen, and many hilarious portrayals of computers in early 1980s Hollywood flicks.

See more pics from the auction at CNET

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