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Fremont drops attempt at marking first Mac factory historic

updated 03:19 pm EDT, Thu October 4, 2012

Building too young to be historic, state and federal rules say

Earlier this week, the Fremont City Council halted attempts at designating the first Macintosh factory as a historic site, the San Jose Mercury News reports. The city had been hoping to use the building to promote Fremont, both in terms of history and importance to Silicon Valley. Staff recommended dropping plans, though, when it was pointed out that the factory is 30 years old, and therefore too young to meet state or federal criteria for becoming a historic site. In general, buildings can only become historic when they're at least 50 years old, says Fremont planner Kelly Diekmann.

"Last year, when we celebrated Steve Jobs Day here in Fremont, there was a sense that a global story was being told and somehow we were not at the table telling our story as effectively as we could," comments Vice Mayor Anu Natarajan.

The factory dates back to January 1984, when it was opened on 20 acres of land on Warm Springs Boulevard. The city claims that the facility was able to churn out a Macintosh every 27 seconds; Fremont's mayor, Gus Morrison, remarks that he once got a call from Apple co-founder Steve Jobs after a building inspector asked Apple to make structural changes to the factory. "I picked up the phone and he said, 'This is Steve Jobs and I'm' -- insert vernacular for really angry," Morrison explains.

By 1986 Apple had moved its computer manufacturing out of California. The Fremont building switched to laser printers and software, then ultimately shut down in 1992.

Short of labeling it historic, the Council is considering placing a plaque at the factory. City officials plan to contact the building's current tenant, Hurricane Electric, for feedback.

by MacNN Staff




  1. jwdsail

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-05-00

    Yeah, it's *only* 30 years old, we better tear it down quick before it does qualify as a historic building..


    Certainly there *has* to be an exception that would allow for *current* history to be preserved for the future?

  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    Fifty years is a perfectly acceptable guideline for most industries, but "technological time" moves a lot faster. Thirty years ago is ANCIENT HISTORY in computer time. Thirty years ago, the Mac DIDN'T EXIST (well it was underway but not really a commercial product yet). Windows didn't exist. The Internet as we know it today didn't exist. I'm old enough that I remember this period, and it's even hard for ME to remember how anyone got anything done (particularly in business) without these things! Oh yeah, file cabinets and typewriters and fax machines and LOTS of talking on the telephone. I have to smile when people tell me they can't LIVE without their (map or navigation app of choice). Gosh, I wonder how I managed to see big chunks of the world without that stuff? :)

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 08-06-01

    Originally Posted by jwdsailView Post

    Yeah, it's *only* 30 years old, we better tear it down quick before it does qualify as a historic building..
    Certainly there *has* to be an exception that would allow for *current* history to be preserved for the future?

    OK, then what? You still have to then explain why the building should be considered historic. Wow, it built Macs. Sorry, there's nothing 'historic' about that. It's just a building that was used to make a computer. And then what of those who own it? They're then stuck having to keep this building in the state it is currently in, no ability to update it, or raze it to build something they could actually lease out, say.

    And labelling a place a 'historic site' should be limited to buildings where the architecture is special or unique, or perhaps where some historic happening occurred (thus Ford's theater or the Gettysburg Battlefield).. Designing the Mac was historic (maybe). Making 27 a second? Not so much.

    BTW, I also find it hillarious and wasteful to mark 'birthplaces' or 'lived here' buildings as historic. There isn't anything historic about where, for example, Steve Jobs or Ben Franklin was born. It's just a house, like so many others. The house itself tends to be standard and generic and nothing special. But someone comes in, redoes it all up to period so you can 'see what it was like'. But that doesn't make it historic either. You could take all that, throw it into a house you built last year, and it would be the same thing. You don't go "Ohhhhh. He had WOOD floors, and the stairwell was thin. That's incredible!"

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