A lot can happen inside the average garage. It’s where homeowners park their precious cars, keeping them safe and sound within insulated walls. A garage can also double as a little workshop for those who love DIY projects. As the garage is situated a little further from the main house (particularly if it’s a detached garage), the noise from electrical equipment and tools won’t bother anyone within the home and it certainly won’t be bothering neighbors either! In addition, the garage is also a nice cozy place for storing items such as gardening tools, sports equipment and maybe some items of sentimental value that can’t be thrown away such as old toys, pictures, figurines and souvenirs.
Other than being a place of storage, did you know that your garage can also be the home of some brilliant ideas? In fact, thanks to the privacy garages provide, most folks tend to spend time there when they want to think or get creative. This is quite possibly the reason a lot of big companies got started by working inside a garage. You’d be surprised that some of today’s most successful companies didn’t start off in a typical office, but in a homely garage instead!
The childhood home of Apple founder Steve Jobs is now known as a historic site. Located in Silicon Valley, California, the modest little garage of the 61-year old house is the place where Jobs and his partner, Steve Wozniak, started creating and assembling the very first Apple computers. They started with 50 units of the Apple 1s, which they sold to Paul Jay Terrell’s Byte Shop for $500 each.
From afar, the house itself doesn’t look like the birthplace of a brilliant idea, let alone one that would later turn into a multi-billion dollar business. In fact, the house itself looks like your average suburban home, complete with modest shrubbery, a concrete driveway and your typical garage door. Who would have thought this very garage would be considered the Mecca of Mac aficionados?
Today, if you were searching for anything on the Internet, the first place to start is Google. Established as a registered domain on September 15, 1997, Google.com is considered to be one of the most organized and reliable search engines on the Internet. Founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google has changed the way the world sees the Internet, but this prestigious company also started off in a garage.
In September 1998, Google’s workplace was set up in Susan Wojcicki’s garage in Menlo Park, California. If you’ve heard of Susan Wojcicki before, it may be because she’s also the CEO of YouTube, and she also happens to be married to Dennis Troper, a Google executive. It was during their stay in this fateful garage that Google was recognized as one of the Top 100 Web Sites for 1998 in PC Magazine, who praised Google for its uncanny knack for returning extremely relevant search results. Within months of working in Susan’s modest garage, Google’s headquarters eventually moved to a real office in 165 University Avenue in Palo Alto in February 1999.
Barbie, Hot Wheels, and Cabbage Patch Kids are just some of the staples of a typical child in America. These toys are some of the most popular and most sought-after treasures of the average grade-schooler. But when you were still a kid, you probably didn’t know that the creators of these beloved toys got their start in a garage in Southern California.
Back in 1945, Ruth and Elliot Handler and Harold “Matt” Matson created Mattel out of a garage workshop, and their products were picture frames. However, Elliot thought of a great idea where he turned picture frame scraps into dollhouse furniture. Eventually, Harold Matson left the company, and the Handlers started creating toys instead of picture frames. In 1948, Mattel moved to their official headquarters in Hawthorne, California, and eleven years later, one of the most iconic toys of the generation was created. Barbara Millicent Roberts, also known as “Barbie,” was born.
Hewlett-Packard’s garage story is different from the others mentioned above simply because its founders, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, specifically chose to rent the house where the garage was placed. Unbeknownst to the owners of the house, that particular garage at 367 Addison Avenue would from then on be known as the birthplace of Silicon Valley.
Hewlett came upon the garage in 1938 while he was searching for a garage where he and his partner could work in. With a $538 working capital, the partners created their first product: an audio oscillator. Upon formalizing their partnership, they named their company Hewlett-Packard or HP for short. In 1940, the founders moved out of the garage and into a rented building at 481 Page Mill Road where their journey to technological successes began to bloom. In 2000, HP purchased the property and rehabilitated the garage, house and shed which served as its first office. In 2005, the HP garage officially became known as the birthplace of Silicon Valley.
Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, wouldn’t have thought that his fateful trip to Japan would seal his fate as the founder of one of the world’s most famous sportswear retailers. In 1963, Knight journeyed to Japan to have a last hurrah before entering the professional field. He scheduled a meeting with a Japanese running shoe manufacturer, Tiger, in order to present himself as a distributor of their running shoes in America. On a whim, he said he was a representative of Blue Ribbon Sports. He started selling these shoes out of his car, though it wasn’t parked in his garage at the time. Instead, the garage served as a safe place for his inventory before Blue Ribbon Sports finally got its own spot and eventually became sports mogul Nike.
From tiny garages to huge offices in the middle of the city, these companies were able to improve their ideas and sell them to the right market in order to move out of their garage. Who knows, maybe the next multi-billion dollar company just setting up in a garage in your neighborhood!