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Mystery woman dumps $200K Apple-1 computer at recycling depot

It’s always worth double-checking the old kit you’re taking down to the recycling center before you leave the house; it might be worth more than you realize. A depot in Silicon Valley is trying to track down an unknown woman after she dropped off a rare Apple-1 computer that’s worth around $200,000 to collectors.

As the San Jose Mercury News reports, the woman didn’t ask for a receipt or leave any contact information. The computer apparently came from a garage clear-out after the death of her husband, and it has since been sold to a museum by Clean Bay Area, the recycling firm involved in the strange tale. Only about 200 of the first-generation machines were ever made, and each one was assembled by hand by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ron Wayne in 1976.

Related: Working Apple-1 originally sold by Steve Jobs fetches ‘only’ $365,000 at auction

If the woman gets back in touch with Clean Bay Area, there’s a $100,000 check waiting for her — the firm wants to split the proceeds with the mystery donor. “We are looking for her,” said CBA Vice President Victor Gichun. “I remember her. To prove who she is, I just need to look at her.”

Clean Bay Area, located in Milpitas, deals primarily with computers, lab equipment, testing kit and semiconductors. Although most of the hardware that comes through its doors is from local businesses, individuals do occasionally stop by with donations — and this is by far the most valuable one they’ve seen yet.

The Apple-1 (or Apple I) computer originally sold for $600 but can now attract several hundred thousand dollars at auction. The record for an Apple-1 purchase is $905,000, but that was the only remaining model sold personally by Steve Jobs out of his home. The computer comes with just 4K of memory, so it’s not much use these days except as a museum piece.

[Image courtesy of Todd/Flickr under Creative Commons]