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Jobs Creation

A new Apple headquarters lands in Cupertino.

Sep 5, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 47 • By JAMES GARDNER
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The very names they give their enterprises are expressive of these ludic roots: Microsoft, Google, Yahoo!, LimeWire, Napster, and all the rest are a far cry from International Business Machines (IBM), or even Xerox, and seem to invoke the gonzoid spirit of the drug culture. This is evident as well in the very language of computing: spam, ping, Mozilla, Java. All of them suggest the same fundamentally unserious quality that is attested in John Markoff’s What the Dormouse Said: How the ’60s Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry: “[B]ecause people [Jobs] knew well had not tried psychedelics, there were things about him they couldn’t understand. He also said that his countercultural roots often left him feeling like an outsider in the corporate world of which he was now a leader.”

Thus far, the people who brought us the personal computer have shown little interest in architecture, not excluding Jobs, for all his obsession with design. Just as the main movers and shakers of this revolution seem entirely indifferent to sartorial style, they have tended to seem equally indifferent to the buildings they inhabit—notwithstanding a few dazzling homes that are less about architecture than conspicuous consumption. Terminally square corporations like IBM and Johnson & Johnson might erect sleek architectonic projections of their corporate ethos, but the careers of Paul Allen, Steve Wozniak, and Bill Gates began in their parents’ garages, and in an architectural sense, they never left.

James Gardner recently translated Vida’s Christiad (I Tatti Renaissance Library).

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