Unlike Google, Facebook or other large technology companies in Silicon Valley that have a headquarters where most of the employees are, Apple is quite dispersed throughout the city. However, there is one place that is considered the Holy Sanctorum, the center around which all the blocks revolve: the 1 Infinite Loop .
Unfortunately, Apple is the exception to the rule that all technology companies let you visit their headquarters. Even with friends who work at Apple, I was unable to gossip on the inside. Anyway, there’s a lot to see outside, so don’t be discouraged, geek pilgrim!
Holy Land Route: Cupertino
Take a picture of yourself in front of the 1 Infinite Loop poster and just locate the Outback restaurant next door. Outback is a network of Australian restaurants that specialize in roast beef. What makes this one special is that it is Steve Wozniak’s favorite restaurant, and you can often find him there. On top of that, the food is good, and I’ve had dinner there many times with a friend.
WWDC was just a few weeks away and according to my friend Bunny, co-author of the Core Graphics bible and who works in Apple’s documentation department, they were living through hellish weeks preparing everything. I have no doubt, because the lights used to be on well into the night.
The only bad thing about dinners in the Outback was my friend Eduardo’s infamous mania, who recently gave himself up to the Dark Side, of always entering using Google Glass. I was afraid security would kick us out.
The most important bar in Silicon Valley
If you leave the Outback, you’re just a few steps away from a truly historic place, although it certainly doesn’t look like it. Walk a few meters to your right, and you will come across a rather insignificant looking bar. However, according to Steve Jobs, the best sandwiches and bagels in the world were served there.
You probably thought your iPhone was designed in a more glamorous place…
There he used to meet for hours with Scott Forstall to design the iPhone and iOS. Although I had dinner many times in the next outback, on the Saturday I went sightseeing, I wanted to eat there. I asked for one of the snacks that Steve Jobs used to eat, to see if anything would stick. It wasn’t bad, but as much as the best in the world, it should be discussed.
Better in the world or not, it is a historical place that must be visited, in our particular tour of geek points of Silicon Valley .
Towards Mountain View
After visiting the Jedi Temple, it’s time to go to the Sith cave, but first you have to stop at one of the most interesting places for a geek. For the moment, we take the car and go to Mountain View.
Mountain View is the twin brother of Palo Alto, the other major technology business center in the Valley. By far the most important of these: Google .
Before arriving at the Googleplex (Google’s headquarters), we will stop at the world’s most geeky museum: Computing History Museum .
Leave your car in the museum parking lot, but be careful: you are in Mountain View, Google land and you may very well come across one of the autonomous cars (without driver) from Google. They drive around the city and you can often see them.
The museum has copies of the main computers in history, starting with the famous ENIAC . In addition to the ENIAC, they have an IBM 360 , a PDP 8 and 11 (where UNIX was born, the operating system that gave rise to OSX and iOS, among many others).
IBM 360, a milestone in the history of computing
The first version of the Unix programming manual , typed. This manual still affects the way we program our iPhones and iPads.
They also have forgotten classics, such as a ConectionMachine, the sexiest computer ever created by man. Next to that marvel there are also several Cray super computers (famous for having been used to create the original version of Disney’s TRON).
The Connection Machine, created during the furore of Artificial Intelligence.
Speaking of Disney, it’s worth remembering that Steve Jobs, before selling Pixar to Disney, not only made movies, but also sold computers at Pixar :
Another classic computer that is sure to bring tears to the eyes of many is the old Spectrum . It was there too.
The NeXT Cube (again a cube…) could not be missing either. This is the best known computer that Steve Jobs marketed with NeXT.
What few know is that this computer, with which Tim Berners Lee created the Web (both the first browser and the first http server), not only gave rise to the Web revolution. Years later, that same technology and programming language (Objective C) is the same one we use today in our Macs, iPhones and iPads .
After the Web revolution, the same technology is being used for the App revolution. It is certainly a tribute to the visionary genius of Steve Jobs .
In the museum one can get lost for many hours, so be careful not to overdo it, because there is still a lot to see. Be sure to stop by the shop, where you can find lots of geeky souvenirs.
On the way to Mordor: the Googleplex
Not far from the museum is the headquarters of Google, also known as the Googleplex. It’s a huge building and you can tell that the Mountain View town hall gets along better with Google than Cupertino’s does with Apple (there’s some tension): they’ve been given a street, no less!
The Googleplex can be visited every day except weekends. I recommend that you spend some time walking around and spending something in the store. As in the case of Facebook, it is a bit strange to think that you are INSIDE Google or Facebook.
By now you may be tired and have little time left in your day. There are still many things to visit, like the HP garage, but there are priorities. Speaking of garages, there’s one you can’t miss.
The most important garage in the world
Turismo Geek en el Silicon Valley (I)
When I got out of Google, I headed back north, but instead of taking the El Camino Real and going back to Palo Alto, I made a little detour to Los Altos. There, I was heading towards 2066 Christ Drive. At that number, in a typical American housing development, there is a house that seems to be nothing different from the others: wooden, with a garage on one side and a garden in front.
Garage where Apple was born
However, that house and that garage are very special. In that house lived a certain Steve Jobs years ago and in that garage he met another nerd named Steve Wozniak to build the computers that would later be sold under the Apple brand. That’s where Apple was born.
I don’t know who will live in that house today, or why Apple won’t buy it to turn it into a museum, but it’s clear that the current owner is fed up with us. In front of the entrance he has a sign indicating that it is forbidden to step on the patio to take pictures and that otherwise he will call the police. He only had to say that he uses Windows and Android.
Actually, I think the best I could do would be to charge admission to the garage, but that’s none of my business. Since we geeks are clearly not very welcome, I decide to take a trip.
The last abode
Unlike other Silicon Valley millionaires, Steve Jobs never bought a spectacular mansion. On the contrary, he always lived in an upper-middle class neighborhood, in a large house, but without showing off. When he passed away, there were many pictures of the flower-covered garden brought by fans. I decided to go over and have a look.
Steve Jobs’ house
His house is in Palo Alto, so I end my journey where I started. The house, as I was saying, looks pretty normal, and has a large and somewhat neglected garden. It’s possible that the security people come to you, but in any case they are very polite and let you take pictures without any problem.
I had to leave for the airport, so it was time to end the geek pilgrimage. Still, the biggest surprise of the day was waiting for me around the corner, near Steve Jobs’ house. Parked in the driveway of a house, I come across this:
Delorean – Marty McFly’s car in the movie Back to the Future
I had never seen one up close before and if I had any doubts about being in a special place, they were immediately clear to me. When I returned home, I did so with the feeling that like Marty McFly, I was returning from the future.
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