Birthplace of Silicon Valley – Palo Alto, California - Atlas Obscura

Birthplace of Silicon Valley

A humble garage, world-famous for being the epicenter of a technology revolution. 


Who knows where we’d be without the lowly garage, the site of so many innovations. No Apple computers? No Google? No Marc Maron? Without the work that happened in this small building there would almost certainly be no Hewlett-Packard, the Palo Alto company that sparked the beginning of Silicon Valley.

William Hewlett and David Packard probably would have created HP without this specific one-car garage at 367 Addison Avenue, but you can’t deny there are few buildings that have made such an outsized impact. The history of electronics, technology, and computers can be traced back to this one little shed.

In 1938, Dave Packard and his new bride moved into an apartment in the house on Addison Avenue. A year later he formed the partnership with Bill Hewlett, formalizing the company name with a coin-toss (Packard won but decided to put his partner’s name first). Hewlett ended up crashing for a time out back in the shed, and it was here that they built their first product: the HP200A audio oscillator. So good was their first venture into electronics that Walt Disney stepped up, buying eight of them so he could test the audio facilities of theaters showing his masterpiece, Fantasia.

Some famous “garage” stories have turned out to be more myth than reality, but the story of Bill and Dave forming their company in this Palo Alto garage is true. The site is now designated as a California Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

Know Before You Go

The Birthplace of Silicon Valley is a private museum, not open to the public. But you can see the garage and the plaque from out front.

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