Vintage Apple I Worth $200,000 Saved From Recycling 

A rare Apple I computer was saved from the recycling pile by a vigilant worker. Now, the charity is trying to find the woman who donated it, because that person's in for a happy surprise.
Disney's Tomorrowland Past And Present: A Celebration
Disney's Tomorrowland Past And Present: A Celebration
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An awful lot of people in the Bay Area will be dressing like grieving widows this week. A mystery woman unknowingly donated an Apple I computer to a recycling center, and she is now in line to receive $100,000. That's half the price the computer fetched when the recycling center recognized what it was and sold it to a collector.

If only the woman had made time to visit the outstanding Computer History Museum, right in her own backyard in San Jose, Calif., before turning over the precious object.

All the lady in question has to do to collect her money is come forward. Presumbly, the reason she hasn't is that her late husband is haunting her for throwing away this piece of history, which could have fetched her enough money to buy even the highest-end Apple Watch.

The Apple I, as it is was retroactively called, originally sold for $666. It is rumored that its list price prompted may devout horror movie priests to burn the computers in the belief that they might be possessed. Here is a picture of the original computer.


(Image: Ed Ulthman via Wikipedia)

Note the sleek curves and fine lines of Apple industrial design were evident even in its earliest computers. In fact, there are rumors Apple will release a wooden iPhone to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Apple I next year. Ok, ok, we're only kidding about that part.

To be fair to the mystery woman, she actually donated a box of old, probably mostly worthless computing equipment, and the Apple I was found underneath the debris. The box lay unprocessed for several weeks, and she didn't ask for a receipt. The recycling company, Clean Bay Area, doesn't know how to contact her. Local news has helped by running a story about it. If you're in the Bay Area (or just curious) check out the video to see if you can help identify this poor woman.

As much as it is clearly this woman's mistake, I have to say, I'm upset that the recycling company sold the computer rather than tracking her down. This was clearly a mistake. Granted, the company is well within its rights to sell the donated computer. Frankly, I think a lot of companies wouldn't even try to find her to give her half the proceeds. It still seems unfair to sell what was likely a prized possession for her husband, and the woman didn't understand or even know was in the box.

This, my friends, is why if you have anything important in your house, you tell every relative possible and label it as valuable. Sure, you help potential burglars a bit, but you avoid the fear of your estate being recycled. The bigger tragedy would have been if one of the few hundred remaining Apple Is had been destroyed. It gives me new respect for all those aging computers in my closet. I think I'll go find out which one is worth thousands.

[ Want to see more classic computers? Read How Military Tech Changed IT: A Memorial Day Retrospective. ]

In the meantime, get your costumes ready. Rehearse your sob story about your recently deceased husband who was a computer enthusiast, and get ready to take a crack at convincing Clean Bay Area you were the one that dropped off the box. If your story is good enough, maybe the charity will give you the other $100,000, too.

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