Large companies created in a garage

It is very curious that several of today’s leading companies have had their beginnings in a garage. This was the case with Microsoft, Apple, HP, Google and Youtube. All of them have this common origin. All of these big companies share this birthplace in a totally ordinary way, despite having very different histories.

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William Reddington Hewlett and Dave Packard

William Reddington Hewlett and Dave Packard met at Stanford University. After gaining experience separately they decided to build a company in the garage of a house on Addison Avenue in Palo Alto, California, owned by a lady who had recently been widowed. The young Hewlett and Packard lived in the neighborhood, though separated, as Dave was married.

With an initial capital of $538 they began work on an oscilloscope, the company’s first product in 1938. In the beginning, the garage only had a desk and a filing cabinet.

Over time, and due to the success of the company, they moved to another location and the original house was again divided, passing to other owners. In 1984 the company decided that the HP garage was part of its history and tried to get it considered a historic building in Palo Alto, which it did in 1985.

In 1989 they finally got it elevated to the status of California Historic Heritage Site, adding a rock with a bronze plaque indicating the property as the birthplace of Silicon Valley.

HP purchased the property in 2005 and completed its restoration.


Paul Allen and Bill Gates

Paul Allen and William Henry Gates III met at a private school in Lakeside. This institution was one of the first to have a computer and put it at the service of students in the late 70s. Bill Gates was almost the only one who came close, it was a PDP-10 where he spent a lot of time. As a result of this addiction, he got in touch with Paul, who had been addicted to computers for years.

In 1969, Paul, Bill, and two other students formed a company that would somehow be the seed for the birth of Microsoft in 1975. The beginning of this business relationship between Paul Allen and Bill Gates took place in the garage of the Gates family.


Steve Jobs and Wozniack

Apple’s history has a lot of similarity and relationship with HP’s since its inception. It also emerged in California, this time at 2066 Crist Drive. A 12-year-old boy named Steve Jobs called William Hewlett to say he was building an electrical appliance. During this conversation, which lasted 20 minutes, Jobs got the parts needed to complete his project and a summer job at HP.

A few years later, Steve met Stephen Wozniak, a super-talented young man who by the age of 13 had built a sophisticated calculator. Both had been professionally involved for some time. By 1975 Wozniak had improved his calculator almost enough to make the first personal computer and took his design to HP, where he worked as an engineer. the same company where Steve Jobs worked at the time and where he probably had contact with the project. Both rejected the concept offered and the two children, opportunists, founded a company to invest in this idea together. They began, of course, in the garage of the Jobs family, whose father had to take out his tools to fix the cars and build them an office with a large wooden table he built himself, the same one on which the first Apple computers were built. It is good to make it clear that Jobs was most of the time involved with the management and marketing of Apple’s inventions, however, his determined “public relations” direction of the company led him to obtain credits for his inventions with friends, colleagues, and employees. Common mistakes in history, because people never learn to separate the pieces so that they fit in the right places.


Chad Hurley and Steve Chen

Chad Hurley and Steve Chen met in 2005 at a Valentine’s Day festival in California. There they met with many employees of the PayPal company, where they had worked. The person in charge of making the video of the party spent the entire time complaining about how difficult it was to share the images with the rest of the staff over the Internet. Chad and Steve “got” the idea and together with Jawed Karim, another computer scientist, started working on a site that would allow for easy video sharing. They met at Hurley’s garage in San Francisco, where what later became one of the network’s most profitable businesses originated.


Sergey Brin and Larry Page

Stanford University, near the mythical city of Palo Alto, was where the creators of the largest search engine on the web, Google, met. Larry Page, one of its founders, had been hooked on computers for 6 years. Even in college I had built a printer out of Legos. There he met Sergey Brin, another boy his age (just over 20 years old) and from two projects of each they began to work on a search engine. Their progress was relatively rapid, and by 1996 they had “BackRub” in place, which in 1997 would become Google.

Actually, the first place they did business was at Larry Page’s house, even after they moved into a garage to have a business name so they could cash a check they had received as “Google Inc.” They chose for this property, a garage owned by Lady Susan Wojcicki, located at 232 Santa Margarita Avenue.

The relationship between the boys and Mrs. Wojcicki was so good that she ended up being part of the company in the year it was founded. She is currently Google’s vice president of advertising management, among other things, because she was also the creator of Adsense.

It is evident that garages have been very important in the development of today’s large companies. But don’t forget that it’s not just the place that makes the magic, but also the bold and innovative thinking minds, like those of these characters.

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