Today I had the opportunity to undertake a tour of parts of Silicon Valley and the Google campus in Mountain View, California. It’s been a strong desire of mine to travel through the famous heart of the US tech sector, so today’s activities were quite awe inspiring for me, personally.
I’ve been staying with a friend who works at Google, and have been enjoying life in the US for a few days now. It was a treat to be in the States for the fourth of July celebrations, combined with a day trip to the Napa Valley yesterday.
Surreal! Google Maps – I’m inside Google
Today we ventured into the heart of Google, and I had a lot of free time to explore the large expansive campus. I began with an early (escorted) breakfast followed by an essential coffee top-up, before being set free to roam. Despite the wide availability of Google bikes (Gbikes), I elected to go on foot for the morning. My first destination was where it all started at the Googleplex.
Saying Hi to an Android/Googleplex
Being on my own, I had no building access, so I spent most of my time admiring the external features, of which there are many. The weather is typically Californian – blue skies and a cool breeze, so being outdoors was no hassle. I found my way into the middle of the complex and came across a beach volleyball area, a Tyrannosaurus Rex, multitudes of Google coloured seats and artwork of many varieties.
Bikes R Us / A terror roams the campus
One sated, I moved towards the Google Welcome centre, only to find it required escorted access. I continued on to the Google store where I picked up a few mementos after spending some time taking photos in the old Android Garden. From here, my aim was to walk down to the Computer History museum which is located near Century Theatre (movies) which I’d visited on the 4th of July (to watch the new movie Independence Day).
Android Garden/Early StreetView car
The museum is impressive. It is designed in a way that you essentially trace the history of the evolution of computing, starting from the basic abacus all the way through the engineering feats to modern technology. There’s everything from Ada Lovelace, ENIAC, punch card machines to cathode tubes, early mainframes and the computers which ran the missions in space. AI was well represented, including the robots which were the inspiration for the Pixar movie Wall-E.
Early card sorting machine & mainframe
The inspiration for WALL-E and EVA
Stock ticker machine/Google self driving car
There was also one of the latest model Google self driving cars, which may offer an early look at the future of automotive design.
After getting lost trying to return to the campus, I eventually found my way back for lunch. Returning the the Googleplex on Gbike, I munched down on a surprisingly delicious burrito before we headed off to visit the Google Welcome Centre (Beta!). Here there were some interesting artefacts from Google’s past, including the original wall charting the early use of Google search.
Google dreamchair/Original wall chart from the garage days and early establishment
An early home brew Google server rack
All-in-all, quite a comprehensive day strolling around the Google campus. Without any material work to do, I have spent the last hour mainly reviewing photos and putting together this article. I’m sitting outside, connected to the Google Guest network and annoying friends via social media of the fun I’ve been having. Tomorrow I should continue my tour of Silicon Valley.
Next week I am at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner convention in Toronto, Canada. Stay tuned for many, many new articles (live) as I get around to the various sessions.