Old 05-02-2008, 06:40 PM Offline   #1 (permalink)

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Default Wired.com Readers' Most-Wanted Rare Gadgets

</img>: We asked our readers to submit the coolest, hardest-to-find gadgets they could think of. After two weeks, these are the favorites. There are far too many gems to include here, so visit the rare-gadget submission page to browse more than 100 entries.

Left: Smallest Mechanical Pocket Calculator
Submitted by Anonymous
Submitter's comment:
"Designed by an Austrian prisoner (Curt Herzstark) in KZ Buchenwald during World War II, it remains the smallest pure mechanical calculating device on Earth. Its more than 700 pieces are all made out of metal, nearly all types of calculations are possible: Enter the number, turn the crank, and out comes the result."</img>:
An Enigma!
Submitted by Mokum Von Amsterdam
The Enigma machine was most famously used by the Nazis to create encrypted messages during World War II. Allied forces were able to decrypt many important Enigma messages, elevating its significance in the history books.
Submitter's comment:
"The Enigma machine based its cipher capabilities on a series of wired rotor wheels and a plugboard. Through a web of internal wiring, each of the 26 input contacts on the rotor was connected to a different output contact. The wiring connections of one rotor differed from the connections on any other rotor."</img>: Widelux

This is our own submission, but many of our readers voted for it, so we're including it here. The Widelux has a swing-lens that takes beautiful wide-angle shots. The lens preserves perspective so that faces don't appear distorted as with most wide-angle lenses. They went out of production in the '80s and are a rare treat for camera junkies.</img>:
Loco Box "The Choker" Compressor Pedal
Submitted by Alamo Death Toll
Submitter's comment:
"Jason Falkner, guitarist and producer, mentioned it in Tape Op magazine: 'It's an incredible-sounding foot compressor. Whomever I tell about this -- an engineer or producer -- they go on the hunt for it.... Everything on my four-track recordings went into that Choker.' After that article, the value of this impossible-to-find pedal skyrocketed."</img>:
Pixar Image Computer
Submitted by Dan
Submitter's comment:
"Way before Pixar made movies, they made parallel-image computers. Wikipedia says fewer than 300 of these were ever sold, and I think that may be an overestimate."</img>:
Nixie Tubes
Submitted by Anonymous
Submitter's comment:"These outdated display devices from the 1950s use 10 number-shaped cathodes suspended in a thin gas to create glowing digits, and are every steampunk toymaker's dream."
Vectrex, Vector Graphics Home Video Console
Submitted by Jager
Submitter's comment:
"While I never actually got to own one, I used to play with this machine in Sears whenever we were at the mall (and c'mon, it was the '80s -- when weren't you at the mall?).
"Fun and addictive -- like most videogames of the time -- but original, as it used an actual built-in vector-graphics monitor for gameplay (as opposed to "raster" graphics). Fun fun fun!"</img>:
Golden DeLorean
Submitted by Anonymous
Submitter's comment:
"American Express originally intended to build 100 of these gold-plated DMC-12s as a Christmas 1981 advertising promotion, but only two were ever built, and a third from spare parts."</img>:
Nagra SNST
Submitted by David A. Goldfarb
Submitter's comment:
"Nagra Cold War spy recorder originally designed for undercover surveillance during the Kennedy administration, later widely used in law enforcement. It uses tape the same width as cassette tape but on open reels and packs automatic dynamic level control and audio-compression circuitry into its machined aluminum 145 x 100 x 28 mm case."</img>:
ARP 2600
Submitted by Chris Yewell
Submitter's comment:
"The ARP 2600 is without a doubt one of the finest analog synthesizers ever. It is very popular and has been used by artists for more than 20 years in all forms of music, especially today's electronic music. The 2600 is a professional, semi-modular, monophonic, patch-cable synthesizer that competed directly against the first professional Modular Moog synths during the early 1970s. From Vintage Synth Explorer.</img>:
PXL 2000 Deluxe Audio Cassette Video System
Submitted by MvE
Submitter's comment:
"What makes this camera unique? In 1987, Fisher-Price manufactured a video camera capable of recording audio and video onto a standard Type II audio cassette. The image quality topped out at 160Khz (compared with 2.5Mhz for a normal signal), so the image comes out grainy and ghostly. A favorite these days for film students wanting an ethereal and artsy feel. Find yours on eBay."

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