A US recycling centre is looking for a woman who dropped off an old Apple computer which turned out to be worth $200,000 (£136,000).

The Apple 1 computer was in a box of electronics the woman had cleaned out of her garage after her husband died, according to Victor Gichun, a vice-president of recycling company Clean Bay Area in California’s “Silicon Valley”.

She did not leave her contact information, and it was not until a few weeks later that workers opened the boxes to discover the highly collectible computer inside.

It was one of only about 200 first-generation Apple computers which were individually assembled by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ron Wayne in 1976, and is regarded as a collector’s item. In December, a fully functioning Apple 1 was sold at auction for $365,000. “We really couldn’t believe our eyes. We thought it was fake,” Mr Gichun told the television station KNTV-TV.

The recycling company sold the computer for $200,000 to a private collector, and because it gives 50 per cent of the revenue from items sold back to the original owner, Mr Gichun wants to split the proceeds with the mystery donor, whom he says he will recognise.

The Apple 1 computer originally sold for $666 – without a case, keyboard or screen – and had just 4KB of RAM, compared with 8GB in a modern Macbook.

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