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Google, Tesla, and Facebook Attract 'Hordes of Tech Tourists' To Their Headquarters (siliconvalley.com) 80

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: "We just came from Oracle, then we go to HP, Google; we're going to do Tesla, Intel, eBay and Yahoo. And Apple, I forgot Apple..." says one San Francisco resident, describing a tour he's providing for his friend from Tokyo. In fact, Silicon Valley's iconic tech companies have discovered tourists are now dropping in on their headquarters. "It was nice to walk between the buildings, take some pictures and see the employees enjoy their lunch break," wrote one visitor to Google's campus, before complaining that Google hadn't also provided them with bathroom access. "We got told not to use the Google bikes as they are for employees only, which was a bit of a shame," another visitor complained.

"Hundreds of people a day visit the Facebook sign and Google's Android sculpture garden in Mountain View," reports the Bay Area Newsgroup, "with many stopping at other tech giants as well, snapping photos and shooting video..." In fact, Tesla, Apple, Facebook, and Google have all now installed stores where tourists can purchase branded merchandise. (Google sells figurines of their Android mascot for $15). "What you're seeing are people on a pilgrimage..." said Stanford communications professor Fred Turner. "Folks are looking for a physical place behind the kind of dematerialized experience that they have online."

Intel has its own museum, and the Los Altos garage where Steve Jobs started Apple has even been designated a historic site. Are there any other historic tech sites that should be preserved to inspire future generations of tourists?
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Google, Tesla, and Facebook Attract 'Hordes of Tech Tourists' To Their Headquarters

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    By anonymous cowards

  • by Anonymous Coward

    You mean where Steve Wozniak started Apple while Steve Jobs stood over him watching and plotting?

  • by Rik Sweeney ( 471717 ) on Sunday July 17, 2016 @01:53PM (#52528897) Homepage

    Erm... those are Pokemon Go players.

  • by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Sunday July 17, 2016 @01:56PM (#52528911)
    They're all hoping to get a last sighting of the American Dream.
  • Really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wardrich86 ( 4092007 ) on Sunday July 17, 2016 @01:56PM (#52528913)

    [...]complaining that Google hadn't also provided them with bathroom access. "We got told not to use the Google bikes as they are for employees only, which was a bit of a shame," another visitor complained.

    Really? Who the fuck complains about a company not letting some random outsiders touch their property? Need a bathroom - use a fucking public restroom. Surely there are restaurants or shops near-by that are meant for public use. And the most pretentious has to be that bicycle comment. I mean, if GoogleEmp came wanting to use your bike, would you let them? Fuck no. That's just weird. Get your own damn bike, or go rent one from a public facility that offers bike rentals.

    These complaints are completely invalid, and the people that wrote them need to be slapped.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      To be fair, they're tourists. Tourists operate by different societal rules to everyone else. Right now there are bound to be tourists in Turkey muttering that although they got some good photos of the coup, they can't believe how rude the soldiers were...

    • Who the fuck complains about a company not letting some random outsiders touch their property?

      About twenty years ago, I was visiting Seattle and told my friends I wanted to get a picture in front of Microsoft [fortune.com]. We were met by three cars of security guards with flashy lights and asked to leave. I got my picture just before they showed up.

    • "We got told not to use the Google bikes as they are for employees only, which was a bit of a shame,"

      Really? Who the fuck complains about a company not letting some random outsiders touch their property?

      I have visited the GooglePlex several times, and I used the free bikes to get around. I was never told not to ride the bikes. Also, the visitors center has a restroom, as do the on-campus restaurants.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Technically visitors aren't supposed to use the bikes (in case someone gets injured due to a bad bike), but no one ever really wants to be "that person" that nags random visitors about this.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      These complaints are completely invalid.

      Yes, but perhaps there's something to this idea of a pilgrimage to the places where the technology that ushered in the information age was first developed and continues to be a source of innovation and inspiration to millions of people. Maybe Google, Facebook and Apple should build more tourist oriented facilities on their campuses, give tours and charge admission. Provided that this doesn't interfere too much with regular operations, it could become a tidy source of additional revenue and introduce ordinar

    • by mybeat ( 1516477 )

      Your point is valid, however there are no public restrooms near google campus, near as in reachable walking distance, there's a gas station and a shop close by but you need to know where to go, which tourists probably don't.

      While we were there no one cared about their bikes (they are shit) nor wanted to go to their restrooms.

  • by tomhath ( 637240 ) on Sunday July 17, 2016 @02:07PM (#52528947)

    In fact, Tesla, Apple, Facebook, and Google have all now installed stores where tourists can purchase branded merchandise.

    It wouldn't surprise me if they all opened a Kool-aid stands as well.

  • by l0n3s0m3phr34k ( 2613107 ) on Sunday July 17, 2016 @02:08PM (#52528953)
    It's got historical value, one of the first major computer installations. TPF (Transaction Processing Facility) was developed by IBM and this location at 4000 N Mingo was one of the first deployed installations of it. It's two stories underground, behind a huge blast door. Unfortunately, it's off-limits to the public (and most employees that work there too). There might be a couple of dozen people who have access to it. I had to beg for two years just to go down; even then I didn't get to see all of it. Conspiracy theory says it's connected to the "underground UFO transport system" [wordpress.com] lol. Some claim that there has been UFO sightings / storage there, but it IS on Tulsa International Airport grounds and there are many drunk Okies around hahaha.

    It would make a great place to hole up in case of some apocalypse. If you shut down all the computers, you could have enough on-site generated electricity to last a few years. Plus your behind several tall fences with barbed-wire, and isn't located inside Tulsa proper. Even better, Lake Yahola and it's water processing systems is less than two miles away, and just north is Mohawk Park that has wild game running around.
    • TPF is actually in use all around the world. They have tried to replace it with modern technology but nothing has been able to keep up dollar for dollar. The core of the OS is all in assembler.
  • Several years ago I was at some meeting in one of the Google buildings. During some lunch time (on a weekend) I was walking through the streets in Google campus looking around and at other (closed) buildings, just curious. And some Google security guard stopped me I must return back to that my meeting building. May the guard do that? Are the streets there really a Google private propery? There was no gate to enter the Google campus and I was looking like a normal geek.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Google has "open campus" idea, and allow people on the streets, just don't disturb employees, be an ass or try and go into a building..
      Their security guards are nice and usually have maps to the Android park (since google does not seem to be able to put up a sign?)

      Facebook has more of a closed campus, so only for employees, they don't like if you walk beside their building..
      Only ok thing there is their "thumbs" sign (which is actually a old Sun Microsystems sign which they did not spend some dollars hiding

  • NASA Facilities (Score:3, Interesting)

    by grumpy_technologist ( 2610431 ) on Sunday July 17, 2016 @02:19PM (#52528997)
    The Jet Propulsion Laboratory attracts 45,000 visitors at their semi-annual open house (disclaimer: I work there). (limited now to 15,000 / event).

    They have museums, exhibits, etc. The Space Flight Simulator [wikipedia.org] and Space Flight Operations Facility [wikipedia.org] are historical monuments. SFOF is the hub of all incoming data from the Deep Space Network [wikipedia.org] ... and essentially every bit of information passed from remote probes to humankind.

    • Exactly, my first thought was "so Silicon Valley is the new NASA, with public attractions and stuff?"...
    • I recommend the JPL Open House, which is the second coolest nerd tour in the country.

      But the ultimate tour is definitely the Nevada Test Site (http://www.nstec.com/Pages/public-tours.aspx). Most of it is a museum of Cold War tech, with test buildings and infrastructure that have been nuked by surface explosions and a Doctor Strangelove control room. You can see the array of giant ant-lion pits where underground testing was done, with one complete test rig still suspended over its borehole. You can see low-l

  • ...but given the rest of the exhibits, I think the ass that SCO pulled out its patent claims would qualify.

  • by Deadstick ( 535032 ) on Sunday July 17, 2016 @02:30PM (#52529039)

    and see the employees enjoy their lunch break

    They'll dance if you throw them a peanut.

  • .. and I never got to see it, only the sign that remains. Namely the building that hosted the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory. The lab that basically started Silicon Valley.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    It was located at 391 San Antonio Road, Mountain View, California. Now all that remains is a signpost.

  • Notable not only for what it holds, but also for where it is -- in the shell of what had been an industry-leading company -- Silicon Graphics.

    Remember, all are as Rome...
  • Stupid statement (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Sunday July 17, 2016 @02:52PM (#52529109)

    "What you're seeing are people on a pilgrimage..." said Stanford communications professor Fred Turner. "Folks are looking for a physical place behind the kind of dematerialized experience that they have online."

    What a load of hoo-ha. I've seen these hordes of tourists - they're just trying to round out their busy day, checking more or less random places off a long list.

    It's like the Japanese tourists I saw at Pearl Harbor. It was just a place the tour bus took them. I saw a lot of smiling tourists posing with the wreath that's in front of the wall listing the dead. It wasn't a pilgrimage, and I don't think it was even meant to be disrespectful - it was just a place on a long list, and they went there without thinking much about it at all.

    • It's like the Japanese tourists I saw at Pearl Harbor.

      This is awkward. Not sure if anyone told you, but the war ended, quite a while ago, actually.

      • It was the site of an infamous sneak attack perpetrated by their own people. The Japanese are on a tour of Hawaii, they don't really know where they're going, or care. A lot of tourists are just checking sites off their list. Funny thing is, the Japanese tried to take Hawaii during the war and failed. So, after the war they came and bought the place.
  • visiting the dump where all of the old x86s lay. I am pretty sure bathroom access is possible all over the site.
  • Until Google can figure out how to market to you or data-mine you using them.

  • - Apple Bandley 3
    - Former Atari HQ on Borregas.
    - The original Sunnyvale Fry's "memory chip" building

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Isn't old sunnyvale fry's a sports basement (or is it the grangers showroom it's been so long I forgot).

      If you are in sunnyvale a better nerd pilgrimage would be weird stuff on carribean drive.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    it may have been jobs' *parent's* house.. but he was hardly alone. if it was just jobs, apple, its products and its successes would simply not exist. woz was the tech brain that did all the work, not jobs. jobs was just a fucking hippie would could talk an eskimo into buying ice cubes.

    • by Octorian ( 14086 )

      And if you're in the downtown San Jose area, you tend to notice the local impact of Woz a lot more. There's a street named after him, and he's made contributions to some community places for children.

  • by Doctor-R ( 885000 ) on Sunday July 17, 2016 @04:37PM (#52529411) Homepage
    The Computer History Museum is on Shoreline Drive, a couple of blocks from the Googleplex. It has public bathrooms. Check the website for hours. The building was built for Silicon Graphics' Marketing department. The Googleplex was the Silicon Graphics' Engineering building. Also in the neighborhood is Microsoft and LinkedIn.
  • by Applehu Akbar ( 2968043 ) on Sunday July 17, 2016 @04:47PM (#52529439)

    For years, tourists coming to LA have wanted to "see Hollywood" as one of the widely-publicized attractions of the area. Inevitably they were disappointed because there was nothing for tourists to see. All the activity of film making takes place in offices and studios away from the public view. The Universal Studios theme park conversion helped a little, but now there's Hollywood & Highland Center, a place where tourists can go to experience a sort of summary of Hollywood culture and history. It is built around a replica of the sets from the silent classicIntolerancefamous venues like Grauman's Chinese and the home of the Oscars, Loew's Hollywood, Madame Tussaud's, and a subway station. Yes, a real working subway station.

  • Where? Through the front doors?

    • The Intel Museum is at 2200 Mission College Blvd., Santa Clara, CA.
      It's essentially through the front door of the headquarters building and off to the left.
      It has some stuff about Intel, some about semiconductors in general, some about computers.
      Some of the displays are somewhat interactive. Others are more typical museum with a group of objects and some text about the objects.

      I think the "bunny suit" is something people find interesting. And (hopefully) here's a video clip with the bunny suit in the mus

  • by Anonymous Coward

    For bonus points, tell them you're a driver.

  • and his first server.

  • How about the Apollo 11 or alternatively the Apollo 17 landing site, the last time humans foot boots on the lunar ground? Preserve it from future droid/drone attacks from hardcore space enthusiasts too poor to get their organic selves onto a rocketship.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18, 2016 @03:37AM (#52531881)

    I have personal experience as a Google employee regarding tourists, and I can share some of it.

    As a rule, we don't mind tourists at all. We're used to it. Everybody wants to "visit Google" and take pictures next to Google logos. For most part, tourists don't cause big problems, but there are some exceptions.

    The first problem is the bikes. Yes, it may seem obvious to many, but the bikes are the property of Google for exclusive use by employees. Unfortunately, some tourists don't get the idea. I used to work in a somewhat remote building and used bikes to come to main campus for lunch and meetings. Many times, I couldn't find a bike to go back, while 10-20 tourists are riding around in them. I once saw a huge number of tourists get off a bus straight into bikes and ride in every direction, across the streets, across the parking lots, etc. Bad idea and lack of consideration.

    Speaking of buses, that's another problem. Tour bus driver will park anywhere. There's a lot of people in the Google Campus, and some places get VERY crowded during rush hour, because that's where the Google commuter buses stop to pick passengers. It's not uncommon to have tour buses *park* at those stops, throwing the whole thing into chaos. I once (nicely) asked one driver if he could move a bit forward, since it was raining and he was parked right in the middle of a 3-bus loading spot. He just plain ignored me as if I was not there.

    Oh, and for some reason, tourists just don't seem to realize that a green colored lane with bike signs painted all over it are bike lanes and walk all over it, forcing you to bike around people on the sidewalks.

    There's also the issue of "employee sponsored tourism". We all have friends and acquaintances who want to know Google, and we all bring people in once in a while. The problem happens when people don't control their guests. At Charlie's (the biggest and most popular cafe), it's common to have people bring their entire families for lunch (including in-laws), especially those coming from cultures where family ties are strong. Many of these visitors don't realize that they are entering a work environment. It's terrible when I'm looking to wolf down a lunch in a hurry because I'm oncall and I have to wait in line at the coke machine for 10 minutes because a bunch of people can't decide what they want, or waste time looking for a seat because tourists "pre-selected" seats in the restaurant by dropping their purses and belongings (which is discouraged internally).

    All in all, it's not much of a burden to employees, and more of a positive than negative experience, but speaking from the inside, it has the potential to suck at times.

  • by tommeke100 ( 755660 ) on Monday July 18, 2016 @12:32PM (#52534259)
    Has much more history than the big Tech Firms, some historical buildings, it's a nice place to walk around, and you probably will be able to use a restroom.

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