On a narrow street in the city of Los Altos stands a perfectly ordinary grey house. It would have been entirely unremarkable, but for the fact that one of the most important companies in the history of technology was created here. These days, Apple’s HQ occupies a futuristic campus that looks like a giant spaceship that has just arrived from a far-away galaxy. However, it was in this house, or rather in its garage, where Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, the two co-founders of Apple, have ideated and assembled the first 50 Apple I computers.
Los Altos is an affluent suburban city in Northern California that bears its name from The Heights in Spanish. Despite its sleepy feel, the town lies right at the heart of Silicon Valley and is just a few minutes drive from Palo Alto. Steve Jobs spent his childhood years here, dabbling in all sorts of subjects, from technology to Eastern spirituality. When he and Steve Wozniak started working together on the first ever truly personal computer that anyone could use, the two founders had little money, and using the garage as a stepping stone was an obvious choice.
Remarkably, the first funding for the young startup was also secured right here. In the classic movie The Pirates Of Silicon Valley, the wealthy venture capitalist Mike Markkula parks his posh car near the house and looks utterly perplexed when he sees Apple’s “office”. Luckily, he falls under the famous Reality Distortion Field and writes the check. Nine months later, Apple Computers has officially moved into its actual new office in Cupertino.
Today, the House Where Steve Built is a protected historic site, in recognition of its significance for the technology industry that the story of modern California is so closely linked to. For the current owners, this has been a mixed blessing. Apart from the neverending stream of tech pilgrims who come to take pictures, every renovation and even repair has to be approved by the city council. For the rest of us though, the place is a great reminder that even the most significant innovations often start in the humblest of places, like this modest white house in the small city of Los Altos.
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