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Like Microsoft, Intel has grown fat and sleek on the back of the IBM PC, but like Microsoft it nearly didn't happen. Although this is where the first microprocessor was designed — the famous 4004 — the company had little time for it and did not consider it a successful product. It also fell out with the chief hardware designer, Frederico Faggin, who went off to found Zilog and produce the Z80. But everyone fell out with everyone all the time back then, and now everyone has prizes.
Real-life visiting potential: 8/10. Santa Clara is ghastly, but the Intel Museum should be on the to-do list of all true silicon life forms.
Almost too well known to be included, the garage where Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard built their first product — an audio oscillator used by Disney — is now a listed building, to be an inspiration for generations of entrepreneurial engineers as yet unborn. Other famous garages include the one in Menlo Park where Sergey Brin and Larry Page started Google, and the Los Altos carport where Steves Wozniak and Jobs kicked off Apple.
Real-life visiting potential: 5/10. It's not nicknamed Shallow Alto for nothing.
A car-strewn patch of concrete is all that marks the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation, which once threatened to beat IBM at its own game. This was where the first American commercial computer Univac was developed, and where Grace Hopper did her first work on third-generation computer languages, leading to the first compiler and, via her language Flow-Matic, to Cobol. But the Univac project hit cost over-runs, the company was bought and the founders resigned.
Real-life visiting potential: 1/10. Handy if you need somewhere to park while visiting 1213 or 1217 Walnut Avenue, Philadelphia.