Old NASA computers and space probe data tapes found in dead engineer's basement

A scrap dealer cleaning out a deceased engineer's basement in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania found two massive 1960s computers, magnetic tape data storage systems, and hundreds of tape reels, all of which was marked as the property of NASA. The scrap dealer called NASA to report what he found and the agency's Office of the Inspector General investigated. It turns out that the fellow was an IBM engineer who worked for NASA in the early 1970s and was given permission to save the stuff as it was being discarded. One space agency's trash is another maker's treasure... From Ars Technica:

"Please tell NASA these items were not stolen," the engineer's heir told the scrap dealer, according to the (Office of Insepctor General's) report. "They belonged to IBM Allegheny Center Pittsburgh, PA 15212. During the 1968-1972 timeframe, IBM was getting rid of the items so [redacted engineer] asked if he could have them and was told he could have them...."

NASA investigators picked up the 325 magnetic data tape reels on December 8, 2015. The cassettes measured 14 inches in diameter and were filled with half-inch magnetic tape. The tapes "were in poor condition and almost all were affected by moderate to severe mould."

Most of the tapes were not labelled, but "of the tapes that were labelled, the content appeared to be space science related with missions including Pioneer and Helios and the inclusive date range was 1967-1974."

NASA told the family of the deceased that it was not in the junk removal business. “No, we do not need the computers,” NASA told the family of the deceased. “We have no use for [them].”