Apple, Google, HP: Check Out The Floor Plans Of Garages That Changed The Tech World

Garages can be many things, from a place to store junk to somewhere to build and run miniature railways, but they can also be the place where the foundations of a billion dollar business can be built. Many of America’s biggest and brightest companies were born in a garage, and HomeAdvisor has created floor plans to show exactly where and how these companies first started out.

From Google’s birth in a rented garage in Menlo Park to the Disney brothers in their uncle’s backyard to Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett forming the company that bears their names in Palo Alto, California alone has been the home of four of the biggest businesses to grow out of such humble surroundings. Here’s what those garages looked like:

Hewlett-Packard (HP)

Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett were both Stanford University students who studied electrical engineering under Frederick Terman, who went on to be known as the ‘father of Silicon Valley’ for the support and encouragement he gave to fledgling companies set up his former students. He famously encouraged the likes of Hewlett and Packard to stay in the area after graduating, helping to establish the area as a hothouse of technological developments, which it remains today.

HP: Check Out The Floor Plan Of Garage That Changed The Computer World

Packard and Hewlett began their business in a garage in 1939 on the former’s property, with Hewlett also living in a shed on the same property, meaning that commuting to work must have been a breeze in those early days for the pair. Despite the relatively small space they worked on products like audio oscillators - some of which they sold to Disney - and by 1947 they incorporated as Hewlett-Packard after flipping a coin to decide which of their names would come first.
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Whether Walt Disney decided to buy some oscillators from HP because he empathised with their time spent in a garage or not is unknown, but it was certainly a shared origin story for both companies. Disney may be better known for castles these days, but back at the start the closest Walt and his brother Roy could come was a garage owned by their uncle Robert. It may not have been grand, but as you can see from the floor plan, it offered the brothers enough room to work on their early animations for characters like Alice In Wonderland and Oswald The Lucky Rabbit.

Check Out The Floor Plan Of Disney Garage That Changed The World

Walt had already done some animating back home in Missouri, but when that fell through he recognised that the real land of opportunity was out in Hollywood where the movie studios were based, and he was soon doing work for Universal before deciding that the real money was in doing it for himself. That led to the creation of Mickey Mouse and we all know where Disney went from there, growing to the point where the company now owns almost all of our favorite childhood characters. The garage itself lives at the Stanley Ranch Museum and Historical Village in Garden Grove.


We’ve already mentioned the role that Hewlett, Packard and their mentor Terman had in establishing Silicon Valley as the place to start a new technology business, and by the 1970s it was time for another generation of pioneers to take things to the next level. Steve Wozniak had worked for HP, but had also been inspired to build his own computer, which he worked on with Steve Jobs in the latter’s family garage. That became known as Apple I, a motherboard-only invention that nevertheless helped to get the pair on the road to shaping much about the way we live our lives today.

Check Out The Floor Plan Of Apple Garage That Changed The Smartphones World

Jobs didn’t only provide the venue for the work to be done, he also helped raise a lot of the money to pay for it, selling his VW Microbus to get the funds together. It was a sacrifice well worth making through, as Apple was making sales of $775,000 a year by 1977, which had shot up to $118m by 1980. While the next few years saw both Wozniak and Jobs leave Apple, Jobs returned in the late 90s to spearhead the incredible comeback that saw products like the iPod and iPhone transform the world.


One of the most recent mega-companies to rise up from a Californian garage is, of course, Google. Sergey Brin and Larry Page met - like Hewlett and Packard before them - at Stanford University, where they co-authored a paper called The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine. They followed that up by inventing the PageRank algorithm, which led to them deciding to build their own search engine based on that, believing that it would be much better than existing engines.

The floor plan of Google garage where billion-dollar internet company started

Renting a garage from Susan Wojcicki in 1998, they founded Google (having initially given it the name ‘BackRub’), later hiring Wojcicki as the company’s first Marketing Manager - she is currently the CEO of YouTube. Her Menlo Park garage served as the base of operations for the fledgling search engine before they moved in 1999 to offices in Palo Alto. As with Apple, the birth of Google in a garage is a part of Silicon Valley legend and inspiration for a million startups out there aiming to go from their own garages to their own Googleplexes.

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Featured photo: William Mercer McLeod
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