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The Almighty Buck Apple Hardware

Mystery Woman Recycles $200,000 Apple I Computer 143

Dave Knott writes: A recycling centre in the Silicon Valley is looking for a woman who dropped off an old computer for recycling. The computer was apparently inside boxes of electronics that she had cleaned out from her garage after her husband died. This would be nothing unusual, except that the recycled computer was an Apple I. The recycling firm eventually sold the Apple I for $200,000 to a private collection, and because the company gives 50 per cent of the proceeds from sold items back to the original owner, they wish to split the proceeds with the mystery donor.
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Mystery Woman Recycles $200,000 Apple I Computer

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  • The guy who reportedly "knows what she looks like", will strike a deal with another woman that he trusts.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 31, 2015 @09:37AM (#49809113)

      Because that is what you would do?

    • I don't think that he would have made any sort of fuss about this entire ordeal, nor would he have lied on the grave of his mother just to give it to another person. People out there aren't heartless monsters 24/7, you know.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Actually, they rather are, and this story even taken at face value is prime example of that. It's clear the woman didn't mean to throw away $200.000; if not otherwise obvious, not even sticking out for her $100.000 half makes that quite sure. But no, that was not enough for them, additonally they're trying to milk what is basically misappropriation for the most PR they can, publishing to media that they're actually trying to do the least they're obliged to do... Which is good for them, because otherwise som

        • by geoskd ( 321194 ) on Sunday May 31, 2015 @10:35AM (#49809341)

          Makes me wonder if there's specific case law for this kind of thing though, pretty sure it's happened before, and some people are likely to take it to court instead of accepting the involuntary donation

          There is plenty of case law precedent to prevent her from successfully wining anything. She voluntarily dropped the equipment off at a recycling location. Just because she had no idea that it was valuable doesn't mean she is entitled to protection from her own ignorance. Contrary to popular belief, the laws are not intended to protect stupid people from doing stupid things to themselves.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Contrary to popular belief, the laws are not intended to protect stupid people from doing stupid things to themselves.

            I disagree.

            Please note, however, that I am only disagreeing with you on the premise of what is, not on what should be. IE, if you had instead said "the law shouldn't be trying to protect stupid people from doing stupid things to themselves", I would have agreed with you.

          • by Whiteox ( 919863 )

            She voluntarily dropped the equipment off at a recycling location

            Not sure of the local laws, but in some places the moment you drop off items in a recycle centre or dump, it belongs to the centre as the centre has scavenging rights. They could rightly keep all the money and gain whatever kudos coming to them.

          • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

            quite a few sections of contract law, of loan regulations, finance regulations, fcc, safety etc are to protect stupid people from stupid things.

        • by Mister Transistor ( 259842 ) on Sunday May 31, 2015 @11:07AM (#49809439) Journal

          I'd like to cite a precedence in case law; viz. Finders v. Keepers...

          • by dj245 ( 732906 )

            I'd like to cite a precedence in case law; viz. Finders v. Keepers...

            I'm not familiar with that one. Maybe you meant Keepers v. Weepers?

          • by v1 ( 525388 )

            FWIW, the law very rarely supports "finders keepers losers weepers". The short story on that is that "physical posession does not prove or establish transfer of ownership". The only time that has a chance of winning is when the loser fails to establish they ever had ownership. But in this case, she gave it to them, and that 100% transfers ownership. Legally, they owe her nothing, and would be unlikely to lose in a court case.

            Someone above cited big business as above this law, such as a "bank error in yo

        • by Columcille ( 88542 ) on Sunday May 31, 2015 @12:33PM (#49809841) Homepage
          Trailer Park Boys has taught us that you can steal anything if you first move it from a person's house to the side of the road. Once it's at the side of the road, it's trash and free for the taking so it's not really illegal to take it. You can easily use this method to appropriate grills, patio furniture, yard decorations, etc.
          • Trailer Park Boys has taught us that you can steal anything if you first move it from a person's house to the side of the road.

            Even Alex Lifeson.
        • by sjames ( 1099 )

          Sorry, no. I hate to burst your bubble, but they could easily have kept the entire $200,000 without saying a word and they would have been in the clear legally. So I know it pains you deeply but you're just going to have to accept the most parsimonious explanation, some people aren't shitbags.

        • by KGIII ( 973947 )

          I mistakenly left my wallet at the VA hospital after an appointment with my GP. It had about 5k in cash and a variety of cards and my ID and license. I went back the following day and it was at the secretaries office in a safe waiting for me. I gave the finder 1/5 if the cash and my faith was restored.

          • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

            There's a big difference between forgetting to pick up your billfold with $200 in it and handing it to the secretary, saying, "I don't need this billfold anymore." One is a failure to act, the other is a deliberate act. I'm not saying the secretary in the latter situation shouldn't ask whether you really meant to leave $200 in it, but the two situations aren't really comparable.

            People sell things all the time for way less than they are worth, only to find the highest bidder reselling it at several times

    • by jandrese ( 485 )
      If he was going to do that why not do it right from the start? With all of the media fuss now the real lady might show up.
  • $200,000 sounds insane for an old computer. OK it's a fairly rare computer that has some historical value, but even a fraction of that amount would be quite high.
    • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Sunday May 31, 2015 @09:54AM (#49809191)
      It, and everything else, are worth exactly what people are willing to pay for them.
      • Precisely. Being a somewhat early Apple guy by today's standards having had an Apple IIc purchased new shortly before the IIc+ was released if I had $200k sitting around and wanted an awesome display piece I'd buy it.

        • by Whiteox ( 919863 )

          Exactly. If I had $200k to buy one that is. Last time I looked they were going for $10k.
          OTOH I have my own collection which includes Apple II and //, c, gs, early Macs, Commodore, TRS, Microbee, Amstrad, early Olivetti, IBM PC (one of the first I think). The apparent value is almost zero and a few yeas ago I fought to keep them from being thrown out. I have no idea that there might be something in that pile that may be worth something one day when the perceived value becomes greater than apparent trash.
          Ther

          • by ihtoit ( 3393327 )

            I've got a still-fully-functional Olivetti PC1, had it on last night in fact - what's that worth?

            • by Whiteox ( 919863 )

              Probably the same as mine. 8086 with green screen and WP program?
              The only way to determine $value is to auction it with a reserve of what you think its worth.

              • by ihtoit ( 3393327 )

                4-colour CGA. It has two floppy drives and is capable of running DOS 5.1, very possibly a stripped version of FractINT (never tried running FractINT on an XT clone before...), I would be using it for word processing in EDIT but I'm onto my stock of cheap (Verbatim) floppies now and keep chewing through them - need to find a supply of Sonys.

              • by ihtoit ( 3393327 )

                oh, forgot to answer the first question part: the CPU is an NEC V40 at 4.77/8MHz, not quite an x86 - it runs 8080 instructions and is code-compatible with the Intel 80188 (the feature-enhanced version of the 8088).

      • It, and everything else, are worth exactly what people are willing to pay for them.

        Of course, but I wasn't questioning that it was worth that amount of money. I asked why.

        • by Feral Nerd ( 3929873 ) on Sunday May 31, 2015 @12:23PM (#49809791)

          It, and everything else, are worth exactly what people are willing to pay for them.

          Of course, but I wasn't questioning that it was worth that amount of money. I asked why.

          Interesting question... the collector's market is really strange and much of it is completely illogical. Things nobody wants can be worth a fortune a little later. Believe it or not there are actually fashion trends in junk. I'm constantly amazed at the crap you can sell interior decorators. When steam punk is all the rage you can sell old cogwheels and cast iron table legs for a fortune, when the trend switches to 70's nostalgia your rusty iron machinery becomes worthless but crappy plastic disco balls and sweaty old clothes become valuable rarities. Believe it or not vintage jeans can be worth thousands and the more beat up they are the more people pay. I've seen people buy stuff that I resolutely refused to believe was worth a dime before I saw money change hands. Just because it's rare or old does not mean it is valuable, but it could be if it comes into fashion so timing is key. Stuff like the Apple I is valuable because of the history of Apple and the company's effect on the computer business. Most Nazi stuff is considered creepy and sells to a niche market but Enigma machines are an exception and sell to rich math geeks and IT startups millionaires because you get nerd points for owning one. Just wait a couple of decades and watch Google promotional banners, posters, coffee mugs, t-shirts or low serial Nexus One smartphones sell for outlandish sums of money.

        • Computers are a big obvious part of our civilisation at the moment thus people take an interest in early examples. The apple 1 is probably the earliest example that:

          1)turns up on the open market on a regular basis (are there any Ferranti Mark 1s in private hands?)
          2)people have heard of (Kenbak-1 anyone?)
          3)Is a reasonable size (Ross Perot may be prepared to give space over to a few ENIAC cabinets but not all collectors will).

          While there are other options that fulfil some of the requirements the apple 1 is pr

    • A fool and his money.....

    • It's called "historicity". An item that is an actualization of a historic event. Apple I represents the start of a major cultural, if not technological, shift.
      • by itzly ( 3699663 )

        It could be "historicity" and still only worth $300. The only reason it's worth $200000 is because some idiot paid that much, because he's hoping that in a few years he can sell it to a bigger idiot for $250000.

        • by Jeremi ( 14640 )

          The only reason it's worth $200000 is because some idiot paid that much, because he's hoping that in a few years he can sell it to a bigger idiot for $250000.

          Maybe that's his motivation; but it's just as likely he's trying to complete his collection of "vintage" computers and has money to burn. Not every collector is motivated solely by arbitrage.

          • by itzly ( 3699663 )

            Another big motivator is to show your friends that you have so much money that you can afford to throw $200k away on a useless piece of old electronics.

        • I don't think so. Museums have put in bids in that region and we aren't seeing the kind of ticks used by the art as an investment crowd (as far as I'm aware no apple 1s are in free ports).

      • Apple 1 really didn't. There were other contemporary boards that were just as historically significant that don't have the collectors value as an Apple board. The Bigboard, the KIM 1. The Sym 1. The single board that the 6100 processor was built on.

        The Apple board came from a company where there is a slight amount of continuity to today, but other than that it is part of the pack, just one of a number of boards people ran back then.

    • by linebackn ( 131821 ) on Sunday May 31, 2015 @10:28AM (#49809313)

      Anything involving Apple is a bit nuts.

      But among other things, an Apple I represents one of the early beginnings in the computing world. You can't get much closer to the direct early work of Woz and Jobs. Apple Is are indeed very rare. Supposedly most Apple Is were traded in for discounts on Apple IIs, so few were left in the general public. The parts themselves are rare. Woz chose some parts that weren't even incredibly common at the time - so it is difficult to build accurate replicas. (An Apple II replica, in contrast can be built from mostly from parts that are still available new)

      There is actually quite a bit of demand for vintage items that similarly represent various "beginnings". Such as TRS-80s, Commodore PETs, Apple II/II+s, IBM 5150 PCs, etc, but those are common enough they can often be had for a few hundred dollars.

      • The computer store on El Camino Real in Los Altos used to have an Apple 1 in the display case showing a price tag of one million dollars. This was about 1988. I believed it.
    • by krouic ( 460022 )

      Overpriced garbage stuff ? Must be something from apple.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      $200,000 sounds insane for an old computer. OK it's a fairly rare computer that has some historical value, but even a fraction of that amount would be quite high.

      Stop thinking about it as a computer, start thinking about it as an antique. It is the beginning of the company with the highest market cap in the world and whose products are a household item. If you have an "Apple I" billions of people will recognize the product or the company, perhaps even more than a Picasso or Da Vinci. It is a very tangible, practical showpiece that doesn't easily decay or require tons of maintenance that is very rare - 63 are known to still exist - but not so uniquely rare as to all

      • The beginning of Apple would be the blueboxes that the Steves sold to raise money to build a computer for sale. Said blueboxes would be contraband and evidence except for the statue of limitations, of course.

      • $200,000 sounds insane for an old computer. OK it's a fairly rare computer that has some historical value, but even a fraction of that amount would be quite high.

        Stop thinking about it as a computer, start thinking about it as an antique. It is the beginning of the company with the highest market cap in the world and whose products are a household item. If you have an "Apple I" billions of people will recognize the product or the company, perhaps even more than a Picasso or Da Vinci. It is a very tangible, practical showpiece that doesn't easily decay or require tons of maintenance that is very rare - 63 are known to still exist - but not so uniquely rare as to all be locked up in an art museum, nor so huge and impractical as the first computers.

        Compared to other showoff pieces it doesn't have any nasty history like old artifacts stolen from somewhere, it doesn't involve rare or endangered animals, it's somewhat nerdy but I'd consider it similar to owning a genuinely antique car. You might only drive it for a parade or not at all, but it's the classic "I got something you don't got" which is the essence for rich people who want to impress other rich people. The manly verison of women who pay 10x as much to wear a designer dress - which sometimes is neither prettier nor more practical - but more exclusive.

        I have one of the original bits used in the prototype. This one's a 0.

    • It has that valuation precisely because so many Apple Is were thrown out. Had everyone been brilliant about recognizing potential value in old gear, it would have potentially had...no value.

  • Since the donor wanted anonymity, they could just anonymously donate her cut to a charity.

  • by linebackn ( 131821 ) on Sunday May 31, 2015 @10:07AM (#49809231)

    Sadly this kinds of thing happens every day. I'm surprised that a "recycler" even caught it before sending it off to a third world landfill. I dare say any manuals and software the owner had went directly in to the regular trash.

    You can't keep it all, but for anything roughly 1980s or earlier vintage, it might be worth at least having a local computer geek taking a look at it before sending off for "recycling". Slashdotters probably already know this, but it would be good if people could get the word out. Big corps have the masses too well trained that anything more than a year or to old must be disposed of.

    There are actually whole communities around vintage gear. If anyone has questions trying to identify old hardware or software, feel free to drop in at http://www.vintage-computer.co... [vintage-computer.com] and ask!

    • This is true of a lot of old hardware. Not just computers. Never trash a TR-808 drum machine, or a Technics 1200 turntable, for example.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I've been recycling electronics for 15 years. Hardly any of our materials end up in any landfill, let alone a "third world landfill". 99% of the materials are reused in some form or other. Even the leaded glass is recycled, and that's the hardest thing and most costly. Some of the breadboard is toxic waste, that's about all.

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      My parents thought my Apple //c would be worth a lot in 2008, but nope when I checked online. So, we just donated it. Maybe it will be worth a lot after I am dead at 100 or so! :P

  • Too soon? (Score:4, Funny)

    by CODiNE ( 27417 ) on Sunday May 31, 2015 @12:45PM (#49809889) Homepage

    I think I may have found her.
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wi... [wikimedia.org]

  • ...who left the Apple I computer please form a line at the door.
  • There was probably lots of other interesting stuff in the boxes recycled. Likely things a lot more interesting and obscure than an Apple board.

  • Let me know when the check is ready, please.
  • Does Steve Wozniak have an ex getting rid of old crap she got in the divorce?

Suggest you just sit there and wait till life gets easier.

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