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12 famous places from the history of technology

The 12 most sacred sites for geeks to visit

Like all great hobby subjects, technology has its own places of interest. Indeed, to true tech geeks these are places of pilgrimage. Here are the 12 greatest places in the history of technology.

And, fortunately with high tech, there's not just one sacred site but dozens, says John Graham-Cumming, author of "The Geek Atlas", a guide to "128 Places Where Science & Technology Come Alive."

Graham-Cumming's guide book covers everything from where Newton's apple fell to the pub where Watson and Crick announced they'd unlocked the secret to DNA. He also has a handful of entries specific to computers.

Think you're a tech fanatic? You've got nothing on these guys: The 7 most popular technology cults | And for a look at the most pivotal moments in the evolution of IT, see 15 events that changed technology history.

"If you're a computer person, the three essential places to visit are the Computer History Museum in San Jose, Bletchley Park, and the London Museum of Science," says Graham-Cumming.

"At the latter you can see a working model of Charles Babbage's Difference Engine, which they built using the tools available at the time. It's remarkable."

Those are hardly the only ones. We've identified the 12 most sacred places where IT enthusiasts can go to pay homage to the computing gods that passed before them - or at least catch a peek at where some of the more exciting events in IT lore occurred. Fortunately, would-be pilgrims can do a lot of the traveling via the web, saving wear and tear on the sandals and sackcloth.

Garageland USA: Silicon Valley

  • Tech mecca No. 1: 367 Addison Avenue, Palo Alto, California.
  • Tech mecca No. 2: 2066 Crist Drive, Los Altos, California.
  • Tech mecca No. 3: 232 Santa Margarita Avenue, Menlo Park, California.

Like punk bands, some of Silicon Valley's most legendary companies started inside garages - so many of them, in fact, you start to wonder where anybody managed to park their car.

No grease-stained shed is more famous than the one located at 367 Addison Avenue in Palo Alto, California. Here in 1938, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard developed their first product, the Model 200A audio oscillator.

(According to Graham-Cumming, the engineers named their first product Model 200A so that it would appear they'd been in business for a while.) Initial capital investment: $538, including a Sears Roebuck drill press owned by Packard.

One of their first customers was Walt Disney, who used the 200A in creating the soundtrack for "Fantasia". In 1989, the State of California designated the shed the official "birthplace of Silicon Valley".

Eleven years later, HP - by now a $42 billion company - purchased the house for $1.7 million and began restoring the garage to its original 1938 state, which it completed in 2005. It was listed on the US National Register of Historic Places in 2007. However, the garage is closed to the general public and pilgrims are discouraged from disturbing the quiet residential neighbourhood.

Other notable Silicon Valley garages include 2066 Crist Drive in Los Altos, where in 1976 the Steves (Jobs and Wozniak) formed Apple Computer.

Ironically, Wozniak worked for HP at the time, but the company didn't see much future in his early version of a personal computer.

And then there's the garage at 232 Santa Margarita Avenue in Menlo Park, where Larry Page and Sergey Brin worked, hot-tubbed, and raided the fridge for five months after their nascent startup, Google, outgrew their Stanford dorm rooms (see Tech mecca No. 12).

The search giant bought that property from its owner (now Google VP) Susan Wojcicki for an undisclosed amount in 2006. No commemorative plaques there yet, just busloads of Google acolytes, hungry for a glimpse of history.

NEXT: the nucleus of the web

NEXT:

  1. Garageland USA: Silicon Valley
  2. The nucleus of the web & the cure for the uncommon code
  3. The fathers of invention & the first computers
  4. Where big iron was born, and dorm rooms of the rich and famous


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