Apple ‘spaceship’ site is Steve Wozniak’s former HP stomping grounds


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Steve Wozniak, who co-founded Apple with Steve Jobs, has some history with the parcel of land that the iPad maker is looking to build its new ‘spaceship’ headquarters on -- he used to work there as an employee of Hewlett-Packard.

Wozniak commented on a Technology blog post on Wednesday about Jobs’ boyhood connection to HP and the 155-acre plot Apple is looking to build on. Jobs idolized HP co-founders Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, who at one time owned the site, and at the age of 13, Jobs had a summer job with HP (in the company’s Santa Clara office).


‘This land is also where our small calculator division of HP, APD, was,’ Wozniak wrote in a comment on the Technology blog. ‘It’s where almost all the design, prototyping and testing was done (at night) to create the Apple I and Apple ][ computers.’

Wozniak worked at HP and built some of the earliest personal computers with Jobs and other Silicon Valley engineers as a member of the now-defunct Homebrew Computer Club in Palo Alto.

In 1976, Wozniak left his job at HP, while Jobs and his friend Ron Wayne left their jobs at Atari to start Apple Computer out of Jobs’ parents’ garage in Los Altos.

The comment from Woz, as Wozniak is nicknamed, delighted a few other readers.

Lane Campbell from Cincinnati said in a comment, ‘With that insight this move is more like Apple is moving back to where the idea sprang up. They should have made the building shaped like a seed.’

Victor Liew, from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, wrote in another comment, ‘It’s amazing, to me anyway, how both you and Steve Jobs cherish the memories from your business past. I guess what I’m saying is that it’s great to see ‘legends’ have their own memories and inspirations too. It humanizes you guys. Thanks.’


We followed up with questions for Wozniak about his thoughts on Apple’s new campus, and here’s what he said:

Q: What is your take on the ‘spaceship’ design Apple has come up with? A: Looks beautiful and efficient and environmentally friendly. I see it as a place I’d like to work for the environment. Q: Did you ever imagine, during Apple’s early days, that someday the old HP facilities would be home to Apple offices? A: The buildings where I worked was a smaller division on this land. Those buildings have been used by many other companies, including Apple, in the interim. I had never thought that the large HP Division would ever be totally cleared for such a new building. But I must also tell you that we had been talking about a ‘campus’ with everyone nearby since 1980 or earlier. Sites had been found but they wouldn’t work. Steve Jobs always wanted a campus in one place, but I personally preferred the way HP had divisions more independent and spread across the country. It’s subjective and I’m out of the mainstream in this thinking for most Silicon Valley companies. Q: You met Steve Jobs for the first time while he was a summer employee at HP, right? ­ Did that happen on this same plot of land or at another HP site? A: We met at the home of a mutual friend. Steve told me that he’d wanted a summer job so he called Bill Hewlett directly and got one. I have no idea where exactly Steve worked. Q: Anything else you’d like to add? A: Great to see Apple doing this!


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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles