Apple-1 breaks records as vintage robot steps out of the pages of Dan Dare

The first ever Apple computer has gone under the hammer as George the Robot returns to life after 45 years stuck in a shed.

He looks like a supporting character from classic comic strip Dan Dare, but there's nothing fictional about George the Robot. George was built in 1950 and is one of the first humanoid robots ever made, right here in Britain. After 45 years powered down in a garden shed -- how British -- George is back online, on the same day a selection of early computing artefacts went under the hammer in London.

George was created by former RAF officer Tony Sale, now 79. Having refined the design in four previous versions made of Meccano and cardboard, the then 19-year-old Sale built George in 1950 from aluminium and duralumin from a crashed Wellington bomber. He's been languishing in a shed for the last 45 years -- George, not Sale -- before emerging to take his place in the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park.

George the Robot stands 6 foot tall and can walk, talk and track illuminated beer bottles with his eyes. Sounds a lot like Crave on a Friday night.

Two motorbike batteries power George's remote-controlled robotic responses. Sale added new batteries and some oil, and the old-timey automaton is back to his old ways. Sadly, he's a bit creaky and can no longer sit down or search for beer -- sounds like Crave on a Saturday morning.

It's been a heady day for vintage technology. Papers belonging to computing pioneer Alan Turing went under the hammer at Christie's today, where Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak also turned up for the auction of an early Apple-1 computer

There's concern that Turing's papers may end up in the hands of a foreign owner after failing to meet their reserve price in the auction this afternoon. Campaigners for the Bletchley Park Trust have battled to raise funds to secure the papers for Bletchley, where Turing was the driving force behind British code-breaking efforts during World War Two.

A WW2-era German Enigma cipher machine sold for £67,250, while the Apple-1 went for a record-breaking £133,250.

Tags:
Gadgets
About the author

Rich Trenholm is a senior editor at CNET where he covers everything from phones to bionic implants. Based in London since 2007, he has travelled the world seeking out the latest and best consumer technology for your enjoyment.

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Don't Miss
Hot Products
Trending on CNET

HOT ON CNET

Delete your photos by mistake?

Whether you've deleted everything on your memory card or there's been a data corruption, here's a way to recover those photos.