Tech meccas: The 12 holy sites of IT

You can't call yourself a true IT pro until you've visited at least one of the "holy sites" where computing history was made

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Garageland USA: Silicon Valley
Tech mecca No. 1: 367 Addison Ave., Palo Alto, Calif.
Tech mecca No. 2: 2066 Crist Dr., Los Altos, Calif.
Tech mecca No. 3: 232 Santa Margarita Ave., Menlo Park, Calif.

Like punk bands, some of Silicon Valley's most legendary companies started inside garages -- so many of them, in fact, you start to wonder where anybody managed to park their car.

No grease-stained shed is more famous than the one located at 367 Addison Avenue in Palo Alto, Calif. Here in 1938, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard developed their first product, the Model 200A audio oscillator. (According to Graham-Cumming, the engineers named their first product Model 200A so that it would appear they'd been in business for a while.) Initial capital investment: $538, including a Sears Roebuck drill press owned by Packard.

One of their first customers was Walt Disney, who used the 200A in creating the soundtrack for "Fantasia." In 1989, the State of California designated the shed the official "birthplace of Silicon Valley." Eleven years later, HP -- by now a $42 billion company -- purchased the house for $1.7 million and began restoring the garage to its original 1938 state, which it completed in 2005. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. However, the garage is closed to the general public and pilgrims are discouraged from disturbing the quiet residential neighborhood.

Other notable Silicon Valley garages include 2066 Crist Drive in Los Altos, where in 1976 the Steves (Jobs and Wozniak) formed Apple Computer. Ironically, Wozniak worked for HP at the time, but the company didn't see much future in his early version of a personal computer.

[ Test your knowledge of the "house that the Steves built" by taking InfoWorld's Apple IQ test ]

And then there's the garage at 232 Santa Margarita Avenue in Menlo Park, where Larry Page and Sergey Brin worked, hot-tubbed, and raided the fridge for five months after their nascent startup, Google, outgrew their Stanford dorm rooms (see Tech mecca No. 12). The search giant bought that property from its owner (now Google VP) Susan Wojcicki for an undisclosed amount in 2006. No commemorative plaques there yet, just busloads of Google acolytes, hungry for a glimpse of history.

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