Rare Apple I computer worth $200 000 'thrown in the recycling bin'

A San Francisco recycling centre is looking for a woman who may have dropped off an old Apple computer that is estimated to be worth $200,000.

The computer was among other electronics that she had cleaned out form her garage after her husband died, said Victor Gichun, the vice president of Clean Bay Area, in California’s Silicon Valley.

The San Jose Mercury News reported that the computer was one of only about 200 first-generation devices assembled by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ron Wayne in 1976.

According to the report, she didn’t want a receipt, nor did she leave her contact information, and it took workers a few weeks to discover the highly collectible Apple I computer.

“We really couldn't believe our eyes. We thought it was fake,” Gichun told KNTV-TV.

The company went on to sell the old computer to a private collector for about $200,000 (£130,000), but because the recycling firm splits the profits with the original owners, a web and media campaign has been launched to find the mystery donor.

Clean Bay Area has released a short video asking people to share it in a bid to find the donor.

The mystery woman dropped off the boxes of electronics in April and is said to be between 60 and 70 years old. She drove an SUV and left the boxes at the company’s Milpitas recycling centre.

The recycling firm didn’t provide other details of what the woman looked like, but said the staff would recognise her if they saw her.

“I remember her,” said Gichun. “To prove who she is, I just need to look at her.”

The centre had a backlog of donated items to sort through, so the boxes lay undisturbed for a while. When they were sorted, the centre's manager spotted the computer under old cables and keyboards.

Designed and hand-built by Steve Wozniak, the Apple I was the computer company's first product and it went on sale in July 1976 for $666.66.

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