Steve Jobs wanted to build his futuristic spaceship campus thirty years ago, reports the San Jose Mercury News.
Jobs wanted a “shimmery glass structure” surrounded by trees in rural San Jose. He had purchased the land and had lined up world-class architect I.M. Pei to design it.
“To me, it’s as if time hasn’t shifted — 30 years, same vision, same scope, same dream,” said real estate consultant Bob Feld, who worked with Jobs at the time.
So what happened?
It was 1983, just before Jobs unveiled the Macintosh.
Jobs first saw the Coyote Valley property on a helicopter ride with consultant Feld and Apple executive [Al] Eisenstat on a spring day. Feld remembers it well. As they circled the pastoral property, Jobs asked to land on the valley floor, not far from a rolling hillside near Bailey Avenue and across from the 1950s-era IBM campus.
They got out and walked through the tall grass. “He wanted to know how far up that hillside went,” Feld said. “He immediately saw that with the right kind of architecture, you could do some tram type of connection between the hillside property and the property on the valley floor.”
Whether it be a research center or a think tank, Feld said, “he saw incorporating the hillside, not taking the trees out, but somehow making that part of the facility.”
Feld was impressed with Jobs’ decisiveness. Most CEOs wanted fast and cheap — but not Jobs.
“In my mind, he was very unequivocal about the vision he saw there. He did not come across as ‘Let me think about it,’ ” Feld said. “When we landed there, he was seeing things, he was seeing it right there that minute. There was no hesitancy.”
Jobs bought the land the next day (cash!) but the project was delayed by San Jose development politics.
And then Jobs quit his own company in a spat with then-CEO John Sculley. In his absence the project foundered and the property was eventually sold.
San Jose’s mayor at the time is disappointed. “Just everything would have been different,” Tom McEnery told the Mercury News. “It would have changed everything.”
San Jose Mercury News: Steve Jobs’ first dream for an Apple headquarters: Coyote Valley, San Jose