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Famous Companies Started in a Garage
By Realopoly staff
Before they became the large corporations of today, and before having flashy headquarters, many well-known US companies had humble beginnings, setting up their shop a garage. Here is a little bit of history behind the 10 most famous brands, and how they started:
1. Apple Computers
2066 Crist Drive, Los Altos, California 94024
The childhood home of Steve Jobs, the legendary founder of Apple Computers, a modest 1950s Ranch house, was also the birthplace of the company. Back in 1976, young Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started building the Apple I Computers in the garage. They had built the first 50 of them in a single month, and sold them to Paul Terrell's Byte Shop in Mountain View for $500 apiece. The house is now designated as a historic site. There are folks living in the house, so remember to respect their privacy, if you venture out there!
232 Santa Margarita Avenue, Menlo Park, California 94025
Back in 1998, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, graduate students at Stanford University, started Google out of the garage of Susan's Wojcicki's house. Susan rented them the garage for $1,700/month, to help her pay the mortgage on the house. The house is currently owned by Google, and not occupied. The garage and adjacent rooms have been preserved, to represent the humble beginnings of Google. From the virtual tour of the space, one can see the humble beginnings of what became one of the most valuable and admired brands in the world.
10704 NE 28th Street, Bellevue, Washington 98004
Jeff Bezos started Amazon.com in 1994, as an online book store. In the beginning, he ran the company out of the garage of his home. The property has since been sold a couple of times, most recently in March 2019 for $1,530,000, and the house is privately owned. Interestingly, the prior owner, a T-Mobile engineer, was at first unaware of the fact that the house was previously owned by Jeff Bezos.
369 Addison Ave, Palo Alto, California 94301
Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard founded Hewlett-Packard, in Packard's garage, back in 1939. Their first product was an audio oscillator, and one of their first customers was none other than Walt Disney. HP moved out of that garage in 1940. The garage where they first started is not designated as a birthplace of Silicon Valley, and the property is included on the National Register of Historic Places.
4406 Kingswell Ave, Los Angeles, California 90027
During the Summer of 1923, Walt Disney and his brother Roy moved in to their uncle's house, and set up a cartoon studio in a freestanding garage in the back of the property. In the Fall of 1923, Walt and Roy moved across the street, into a newly built house at 4409 Kingswell Ave. Currently, his uncle's house is scheduled for a major renovation project.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
In 1975, in a garage in Albuquerque, Bill Gates and Paul Allen started Microsoft (originally known as Micro-Soft) to develop microprocessors and software, for an early personal computers called Altair 8800. in 1980, the pair stuck a deal to develop the operating systems for the IBM's personal computer, which they licensed to IBM for $80,000. Microsoft release the first version of Windows in 1985, a year before moving it's headquarters to Redmond, Washington.
In 1901, William Harley, then 21, created a blue print of a small engine that could power a bicycle. He was joined by Arthur and Walter Davidson, and the trio built the first prototype of a motor bicycle, in their friend's wooden shed. By 1903, they started building motorcycles and race bikes. The company was incorporated as Harley-Davison in 1907. The Harley-Davidson motorcycles were used by the American Army during World War I and World War II. The shed was eventually moved near the H-D factory on Juenau Street, in Milwaukee, were supposedly it was "accidentally" torn down. Nova days, Harley-Davidson manufactures around 250,000 motorcycles every year, and has factories in York, Pennsylvania; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Kansas City, Missouri, as well as abroad, in Brasil, India, and Thailand.
The company behind the famous Barbie doll, was started by Harold Matson, Eliot and Ruth Handler, in 1945. They used a space in their garage to manufacture picture frames, and decided to use the left over materials to create doll houses. Soon, the doll houses became better sellers than the picture frames, and the founders decided to become a toy manufacturer instead. Mattel incorporated in 1948, and moved it's headquarters to Hawthorne, California.
9. Yankee Candle Company
South Hadley, Massachusetts
In 1969, a 16-year old high school student named Mike Kittridge, melted some crayons, and canning wax, to make his mom a candle, as a Christmas gift. He then began to design candles in his family's kitchen. With his father's help, Mike soon opened a small retail shop. The Yankee Candle Company eventually grew to hundreds of retail stores, and over 35,000 authorized retailers around the world.
The story of the founder of MagLite flashlights is full of struggle and perseverance. Born in New York City during the Great Depression, Tony Maglica moved as a small child with his mother to her native Croatia. He eventually came back to the US in 1950, and set out to make the most of his training as an experimental machinist. He spoke very limited English, picked up whatever employment he could found, and worked for himself in his off hours. He eventually saved up $125, enough for a down-payment on a lathe machine. With that he set up a one-man shop in a garage in Los Angeles area. He began making precision parts for industry, aerospace, and the military. The MagLite flashlight was introduced in 1979, and quickly became popular in the public safety sector. Police officers, firefighters, and mechanics loved it, and spread the word about this rugged, anodized flashlight.
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