An electronics recycling plant in Milpitas, California is looking for a woman who dumped off an Apple 1 Computer that fetched more than $260,000 at a private auction.
The woman, who did not leave any name or contact information, told the Clean Bay Area recycling center that she was getting rid of a bunch of electronics a few months after her husband died.
Little did she know that inside one of the boxes she left for recycling was a very rare Apple 1, one of the first 200 computers that Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ron Wayne built in Jobs' garage in 1976. With just 4 KB of memory expandable up to 48 KB and a 1 MHz MOS 6502 processor, the Apple 1 went on to become the breakthrough needed to jumpstart the personal computing industry, and without it, we wouldn't have our tablets and smartphones today.
"She dropped off a couple boxes like that," says Victor Gichun, vice president of Clean Bay Area, in an interview with NBC. "We really couldn't believe our eyes. We thought it was fake."
The Apple 1 the woman left fetched $261,470 at a private auction, Gichun says. As it is the policy of the center to split auction proceeds with the donor, he is now looking for the mystery woman who is now $130,000 richer.
Gichun says he remembers how his own mother died at 54 years old and saw how his father suffered in the aftermath of her death. He thinks that the extra money made through the sale of the Apple 1 could possibly help the woman who gave it away. However, the woman did not provide any information that can help the center locate her.
"She said, 'I want to get rid of this stuff and clean up my garage,'" Gichun says. "I said, 'Do you need a tax receipt?' and she said, 'No, I don't need anything.'"
For everyone who plans on passing themselves off as the mystery woman just to get some extra cash, Gichun fortunately knows what she looks like.
"To prove who she is, I just need to look at her," he says.
This is not the first time the vintage Apple 1 fetched hundreds of thousands of dollars at an auction. In December, another of the 200 machines was sold for $365,000 at a Christie's auction in New York City. Two months before that, the Henry Ford organization bid almost a million dollars, or $905,000, for a working Apple 1 to be displayed at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
Photo: Ed Uthman | Flickr