Every big company had to start somewhere. A business that now affects the way we all live our day to day lives was once just a couple of guys sitting in a garage, while the entertainment giant which dominates the movie theaters was once two brothers drawing in their uncle’s backyard. It might seem incredible now that Apple and Disney are so huge and all-conquering, but their entire empires were once contained in a tiny room.
They weren’t the only giant corporations born in humble surroundings either, so Home Advisor decided to try and create 3D floorplans of these garages as inspiration for the future Walt Disneys and Steve Jobs who are currently slaving away in their own garages, hoping to change the world.
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So, whether that’s you or you just want to know where the seeds of your iPhone or Android phone were first sewn, here are four garages that helped to grow four of the biggest companies on the planet today:
The birth of Apple in the garage at Steve Jobs’ parents’ house in Los Altos, California is an integral part of the company’s legend. Even today, with an iPhone in almost every pocket and new product launches as eagerly anticipated as the arrival of a new blockbuster movie, Apple still manages to maintain some of that ‘plucky outsider’ status because of its connection to this very humble beginning.
Jobs, along with Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne, slaved over the designs of Apple’s early computers in this garage in 1976. The Apple I, designed and built by Wozniak was inspired by a trip to another garage, that owned by Gordon French, who hosted the Homebrew Computer Club in 1975. It was Jobs who suggested selling the Apple I as a motherboard, selling his VW Microbus to help fund its production.
Ronald Wayne’s involvement only lasted a few weeks, but over the next few years Apple went from strength to strength, from sales of $775,000 a year in 1977 to $118m in 1980. By the mid-80s both Jobs and Wozniak had left and Apple suffered through lean times, not getting back on track until 1997 when Jobs returned and brought back some of the magic of that garage, leading to the iPod, iPhone and iPad and the Apple we know today.
Walt Disney is a name almost everyone on the planet knows, but back in 1923, he was just working with his brother Roy in their uncle Robert’s garage in Los Angeles. Walt had previously run the Laugh-O-Gram Studio back in Missouri, but when that collapsed he joined Roy in Hollywood, hoping to sell their cartoons to the big studios that were already established in La La Land.
They can’t have known in their wildest dreams that their little studio would go on to be the biggest of all. Back then, it was known as Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio and was based in that garage, but the boys soon outgrew it after producing a series of cartoons mixed with live action based on Alice In Wonderland, which were followed by the Oswald The Lucky Rabbit cartoons for Universal.
That led to the creation of Mickey Mouse and the Disney brothers went from there to turn their studio into the kings of animation. The company named after them today owns the Marvel and Star Wars franchises as well as Pixar, and continues to make its own hugely successful animated movies too. The garage itself was moved to the Stanley Ranch museum in the 1980s and can be visited by Disney fans to this day.
The spirit of Silicon Valley has always been that some people in a garage can create a product that will change the world, and that continues to this day with start-ups like Netflix, Uber and AirBnB going from nowhere to everywhere in the space of a few years. Back in the late 1930s, Dave Packard and his wife Lucile moved into 367 Addison Avenue, with fellow Stanford student Bill Hewlett living in their shed. In the garage on the property, Hewlett and Packard began working on the company that would take their names.
The HP Garage was a place for the two men to experiment with electronic devices they could create and sell. Their first product was an audio oscillator, the HP200A, which was given its name to make it seem like Hewlett-Packard was a more established company than it actually was.
Eight of them were sold to another garage-born company, Disney, who used them in the production of Fantasia, and HP went on to bigger and better things. In the 1970s, Steve Wozniak was working for them when he designed the Apple I, but HP declined his offer to buy it from him, leading to the creation of Apple.
Even the very biggest of companies started out small, and so was the case with Google. Larry Page and Sergey Brin were another couple of Stanford students needing somewhere to work on their projects, so they rented a garage from Susan Wojcicki, but because this was the 1990s, not the 1930s, they were working on software rather than hardware and invented the search engine to end all search engines.
The garage was Google’s home for around five months as the company rapidly started to outgrow it. Today, Google is a part of almost everything we do, creating smartphones, smart homes and entertaining us with YouTube as well as looking after our photos and files in the cloud. That famous garage is owned by the company and featured strongly when it celebrated its 15th anniversary.