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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Where big iron was born
Tech mecca No. 9: IBM's "Main Plant" -- Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

In April 1953, IBM unveiled "the most advanced, most flexible high-speed computer in the world," the IBM 701 Electronic Data Processing Machine. It, and every other IBM mainframe made for the 56 years since, rolled out the doors at the company's famed "Main Plant" in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

It was here in 1964 that IBM created its first general-purpose mainframe, the System/360 family. The S/360's interchangeable software and peripherals made it possible for businesses of almost any size to take advantage of computers, then add more powerful systems as their needs grew. It was an IBM System/360 Model 75 that helped NASA get Apollo astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon and back 40 years ago. It doesn't get much holier than that.

[ From mainframes to minis to PCs and PDAs, find out what other hardware breakthroughs made the InfoWorld Hardware Hall of Fame ]

Students who win IBM's annual Master the Mainframe Contest still get a free trip to Poughkeepsie to view the hallowed ground where IBM's iron was forged, along with lesser prizes like iPods and Linux laptops.

Dorm rooms of the rich and famous
Tech mecca No. 10: Room 2713, Dobie Hall, University of Texas -- Austin, Texas
Tech mecca No. 11: Kirkland House, Harvard University -- Cambridge, Mass.
Tech mecca No. 12: Lyman Residence Hall, Stanford University -- Stanford, Calif.

If a tech company wasn't born in a garage, odds are pretty good it started in a dorm. The first and arguably most famous dorm shrine is Room 2713 of Dobie Hall, half a block from the University of Texas campus, where Michael Dell began selling computers via the mail in 1984. If you can't get to Austin to see the room where Dell Computer began, you can visit the virtual one on Dell's island in Second Life.

Touring colleges of the Northeast? Pack your beer bong and visit the third-floor suite Mark Zuckerberg shared with Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes at Kirkland House in Cambridge. That's where the three Harvard undergrads cooked up Facebook (or "borrowed" the idea, depending on your point of view) in February 2004.

Before the Google Guys opened shop in that garage (see Tech mecca No. 3: 232 Santa Margarita Ave., Menlo Park, Calif.), they started out in Larry Page's room in Stanford's Lyman Residence Hall in 1997, which housed the search engine's first server farm. (No, the Googlionaires haven't bought that yet, but give them time.)

Finally, no tour would be complete without a stop at Albuquerque Police Station, where a 22-year-old Harvard dropout named Bill Gates got detained for driving without a license, resulting in possibly the most famous billionaire mugshot ever taken.

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A correction was made to this article on Aug. 6, 2009.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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