HP Garage in Silicon Valley
August 16, 2019
Deep in Silicon Valley, near the apartments in Palo Alto, lies deeply symbolic structure for the area: the famed HP Garage. This California Historical Landmark is where Hewlett-Packard got its start, and is known to many as the birthplace of Silicon Valley:
“In 1938 David and Lucile Packard got married and rented the first floor of the house at 367 Addison Avenue in Palo Alto. The simple one car garage became the HP workshop and the little shack out back became Bill Hewlett's home. In 1989 California named the garage "the birthplace of Silicon Valley" and made it a California Historical Landmark.”
Nowadays, this place serves as a museum of sorts, and while it’s not exactly open to public tours, it’s still of immensely important symbolic value to the area. In fact, we’d wager you might be interested in learning a bit more about this structure, the story behind it, and the origins of Silicon Valley in general, no? Read on, as we dive into this rather interesting little bit of Northern California history.
The Birthplace of a Legend
That rental property that would become known as the HP Garage was originally constructed in 1905, the home of Dr. John Spencer (who would become Palo Alto’s first Mayor) and his wife, Ione. It was converted into two rental properties around 1918, and in 1938, a then-twenty-five Dave Packard moved into the address at 367 Addison Avenue (the first floor property) with his wife, Lucile. Mrs. Spencer, who was now a widow, occupied the second floor property, 369 Addison Avenue.
At this point in time, Dave Packard had already met with Bill Hewlett, and had thrown around the idea of starting their own electronics company. Instead of leaving the state, they decided to stay right in Palo Alto to pursue their dream, determined to forge a future for themselves:
“Dave Packard had gone to Schenectady to work at General Electric. He was told that there was no future in electronics at General Electric and that he should instead concentrate on generators, motors and other heavier equipment. Bill Hewlett was finishing up his graduate work at Stanford and the two decided to pursue their earlier plan of starting their own business.”
Bill Hewlett slept in the shed on the property, and the duo, Hewlett and Packard, used that one-car garage and $538 to get started on building the Hewlett-Packard name. While they experimented with various one-off products (including electrical muscle stimulators) their first real product was an audio oscillator, the HP200A, used for testing sound equipment.
Though a relative unknown at the time, they managed to snare Walt Disney Productions — of all companies — as one of their first clients. Disney requested some changes to the device, which gave birth to the HP200B. Disney purchased eight of the devices at $71.50 a pop for use in the production of Fantasia and testing the Fantasound surround sound systems installed in theaters for the release of the movie.
And the rest, as they say, is history. Hewlett and Packard worked out of that garage until their company started taking off, at which point they moved to an “actual” headquarters. Still, though, HP is well-recognized as the birthplace of Silicon Valley, the founders of a technological movement that would forever shape California, and the nation at large.
The Renewal Project
Fast forward almost 60 years, to the year 2000, and the house where Hewlett-Packard started was in a state of disrepair. In response, and to sustain the HP legacy, the company bought the property and started a revitalization project to return the property at 367 Addison Avenue to its former glory, essentially “turning the clock back” and restoring the home to what it would have looked like back in the 1940s:
“The idea was to return the property to a form that more accurately reflects the time period when Lucile and Dave Packard occupied the house, Bill bunked in the shed, and Bill and Dave did their work in the garage. All work was carried out according to the United States Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.”
The result is a kind of house museum, an interesting simulacrum of what a visitor to Dave and Lucile Packard’s home would have seen, should they have ventured there way back in the day. On the property, you’ll find an array of old-school electronic tools and equipment, and inside the house, you can get a taste of what the furnishings and decor looked like all those many decades ago. Well, you would be able to, if it weren’t for the fact that the restoration (which was completed on December 6th, 2005) doesn’t allow for any kind of public touring on the property:
“While the HP garage is not open for public tours, individual visitors and small groups may view and photograph the property from the sidewalk and driveway.”
HP also cautions that since it’s set in a residential area, if you are heading over to take photographs, you should remain as discreet as possible and do your best not to disturb the families who call the area home. Still, it’s rather intriguing, being so close to such an influential part of Silicon Valley history. If you’re thinking about stopping by, make sure you read up on the HP Garage Brief before you go, so you can get more familiarized with the location of the garage and the history of Hewlett-Packard.
These Apartments in Palo Alto Put You Close to Silicon Valley’s Heart
There’s definitely a closeness between area landmarks like the HP Garage and amazing communities like The Village Residences, but the proximity to legendary ground isn’t the only appeal these fabulous apartments hold in store. These residences are designed for superior comfort, unprecedented convenience, and a Silicon Valley experience that’s leaps and bounds above what you’d call ordinary. Learn more about what awaits you at The Village Residences, then drop us a line to discover how you can make one of these pristine apartments your very own.