Gallery: HP Garage in Silicon Valley

Last week Recharged had the rare opportunity to visit the famous HP Garage in Palo Alto, in what is officially recognised as the “birthplace of Silicon Valley”.

It is a private museum that is no longer open to the public, but anyone can view it from the sidewalk. If you find yourself in California or in Silicon Valley, the address is 367 Addison Avenue, Palo Alto. There are people visiting all the time, even to get a glimpse of it, and of course to snap a photo.

It was such a treat to visit and explore the house on a private tour. The property has since been designated as a California Historical Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

HP founders Bill Hewlett and David Packard lived here in the 30s. The building was rented and only in the year 2000, did HP purchase the property for $1.7 million. Palo Alto is the second richest suburb in America. Houses in the neighbourhood go for between $4-$6m.

HP Garage

Here’s a look inside the HP Garage. The official HP partnership was formed in 1939, and “HP” was chosen by a coin toss. I can’t imagine Hewlett-Packard “HP” as Packard-Hewlett “PH”; doesn’t have that ring to it.

Our guide, a former HP employee, said we could pose for photos, and touch the workstations. Who am I to say no to that? Haha!

In an attempt to look like I’m working, I grabbed a screwdriver. I mean, who does that, LOL.

The first product created in this garage was an audio oscillator, the HP200A. And Walt Disney Studios was one of HP’s first customers who bought 8 of them for testing and to certify that the sound systems in theatres for Fantasia were going to run in stereo sound, the first major film to be released in stereo.

This was an outdoor shed that Bill Hewlett stayed in while he was a bachelor.

This was the entrance to the main house, which was restored, and replicas used.

And located in the dining room, adjoining to the lounge, was this bed that David used. We were asked to guess what it was first, and I assumed it was a musical instrument. It is a replica of the fold up bed.

This is the kitchen where “paint baking” used to take place. The oscillators were painted in the garage and placed in the oven here. Lucille Packard said her “roasts never tasted the same” afterwards.

It was pretty cool to see where not only HP began, but what would become the birthplace of Silicon Valley. More details can be found on the website if you’re keen to read further.

Thank you HP South Africa for hosting me, and HP Palo Alto for arranging the tour.

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