Hewlett-Packard Model 200D Signed Audio Oscillator, ca. 1942

Value (2009) | $7,000 Insurance$9,000 Insurance

This is Hewlett-Packard's first product. It's a 200 audio oscillator. The first one went to Walt Disney, and he used them to set the sound levels in the movie Fantasia so the different orchestras and music would all be at the same level.

Now, how did you come by this?

UET: About a year after their 50th anniversary, where there were a lot of pictures of this and Bill and Dave in the garage where they started and all of that stuff, I was at the Santa Cruz flea market and I spotted this and I knew what it was, so I bought it and came back and I called Bill Hewlett, got his secretary, and I told her what I was up to. I said, "I'd like them "to sign this oscillator. What do you think they would think?" And she said, "Well, Bill is here right now, so hang on a second." And she left and she came back and she said, "He would be happy to sign it. "He's here right now if you want to come up, "and Packard is out of town but will be back on Monday, "so if you could leave it with me, I will have him sign it and then I'll call you on Monday and you can come and get it." And I did, and it was thrilling. It was thrilling.

Well, you look at it, you can see the signature is right here for Packard... and Hewlett. Hewlett-Packard founded their company in 1939 in the garage in Palo Alto, now the birthplace of Silicon Valley. Hewlett-Packard have become one of the largest computer retailers in the world. How were you able to just call up their office and just walk in? I mean...

I worked for Hewlett-Packard. I started in 1977 as an electrician, and I was a supervisor at the time at the Sunnyvale site. And they had an inside HP phone directory, and they had their phone numbers in there. And you got a secretary, of course, but you could call them.

APPRAISED: When did you get this signed?

It was in 1990 or '91.

Right here you've got the "Model 200D." The Model 200 was one of their earliest models. It was released in '39.

And in '42, they changed to the logo that they use today. And so I know that it's that period.

The Model 200 originally sold for $54.50, which was almost a quarter of the price of any other comparable product by any other company. How much did you pay for it?


Things like these are difficult to price. As far as I know, these don't come up at all at auction. There's not a whole lot of records behind them. There are a few, but they're kind of hard to come by. Without the signatures, you're looking at about $1,700 to $2,000. With the signatures, with the history behind it, for insurance purposes, I'd value it between $7,000 and $9,000.

Wow. Nice. Very nice.

Appraisal Details

Coronado Trading Co.
Tucson, AZ
Appraised value (2009)
$7,000 Insurance$9,000 Insurance
San Jose, CA (August 15, 2009)

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