World’s first electronic synthesizer offered in December

The world’s first electronic synthesizer will come to auction at Sotheby’s on December 12.

Helmholz synthesizer sothebys

The Helmholtz sound synthesizer uses tuning forks to create sound

Herman van Helmholtz invented the Helmholtz sound synthesizer in the 1860s, in an attempt to replicate the human voice.

When the keys are pressed a series of tuning forks vibrate at different frequencies. This is broadly similar to how modern synthesizers work.

Engineer Max Kohl constructed this example from the original design in 1905.

As far as anyone can make out this is one of two survivors and the only one on the private market. It last sold for $20,000 at Bonhams in 2014.

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