updated 2/23/2005 9:21:39 PM ET 2005-02-24T02:21:39

Documents from the early days of computing catalogued as "The Origins of Cyberspace" brought in more than $700,000 at auction, though nearly half the items didn't find a buyer.

Top sellers in the Christie's auction included a 1946 business plan with designs for the first electronic computers. It sold for $72,000 to a private buyer.

J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly, who wrote the document, were the engineers behind the Electronic Control Co., the world's first electronic computer firm. The two boldly predicted a market for their machines -- at a time before venture capital, microchips and software.

The highest-selling piece was a sketch of an analytical engine from 1843. It sold to a private buyer for $78,000.

All told, the sale brought in $714,060 from the sale of 133 out of 254 lots, Christie's said. The papers belonged to a longtime California book dealer, Jeremy Norman, who began gathering this collection of books and documents outlining the history of the digital world in 1998.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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