That year was a year of two births in Santa Clara Valley. One was in the wee hours of August 31st at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View. And the other was on January 11th. The former was my birthdate and the latter was the first time Santa Clara Valley was rechristened Silicon Valley in print. A columnist named Don Hoefler wrote a column in Electronic News titled “Silicon Valley USA”, in reference to the growing number of companies producing microprocessor chips. And since then, the moniker has stuck.
Five years earlier a family moved from Mountain View to a 1952 single story ranch house that was built on the site of a former orchard in Los Altos. The house is owned by the Jobs family and the address of the rather plain house is 2066 Crist Drive.
When I pulled up opposite to the house on Crist Drive there were already three tech tourists in front of the house. A 20 something from Arizona taking pictures of his girlfriend in front of the driveway and a bespectacled long-hair that looked like he was visiting a sacred shrine in Japan.
And in a sense, this is a shrine to those who worship at the alter of Apple Computers and is beatified co-founder, Steve Jobs.
The house at 2066 Crist Avenue and more specifically, it’s garage, was the birthing place of Apple Computer. It was here that Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and family and friends assembled the first 50 Apple I personal computers. The garage was also the birthing location of the even more successful Apple II. (My elementary school in Cupertino had three Apple II computers which were housed in the library.)
While sketching the house I reflected how much it resembled the house where I grew up, just 3.6 miles away, which was a two story track house in Sunnyvale, also on the land of an apricot orchard. I attended the rival high school to Homestead High, where the two Steve’s graduated. In a 1995 interview Jobs commented on growing up in the area:
Silicon Valley for the most part at the time was still orchards-and it was really a paradise. I remember the air being crystal clear, where you could see from one end of the valley to the other- It was really the most wonderful place in the world to grow up.
Anyone visiting Silicon Valley today would not include the word “paradise” in their description, unless there where referring to the fecundity of Starbucks and convenient but anonymous mini malls that speckle the valley like feed to the chickens. And as for the crystal clear air of Jobs’ youth, now you can barely see the peak of Mt. Hamilton thought the permeant haze of the valley.
I sometimes ask myself, what was lost and what was gained, in the transition from Heart’s Delight to Silicon? Has the standard of life corroded for those children growing up in the valley today? Now, can the youth of Silicon Valley share the same experiences that Jobs and myself had? And as Jobs noted, is Silicon Valley still,”the most wonderful place in the world to grow up”?
In my youth there were open fields, orchards, and empty lots to play in. No play structures, just a blank canvas for your imagination to wander. Where do the youth of Silicon Valley go to experience nature? Or are they too preoccupied with videos games, iPhones and iPads to notice what has disappeared?
A 2011 sketch of the two story track house I grew up in, 3.6 miles from 2066 Crist Drive. My father moved out of this house shortly after I sketched this and it was sold to an Apple engineer for an unbelievable amount.