The architecture world was abuzz last October when Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs revealed that the Apple CEO grew up in a house designed by Joe Eichler. Unfortunately, most bloggers shared the news with a photo of Jobs’ Los Altos house (site of the famous garage, shown above), which is not an Eichler. The house Isaacson was referring to is in Mountain View, California, where the family lived until Steve was 14. However, that isn’t an Eichler either. Rather, it is the work of Eichler’s original architectural team, Anshen and Allen, for Mackay Homes. Eichlers and Mackays are similar, but there are major differences in the foundation, heating, materials and style.
What’s important about this story, however, is that Steve Jobs credited the simple modern house of his youth with instilling in him a passion for bringing well-designed products to as many people as possible. “I love it when you can bring really great design and simple capability to something that doesn’t cost much,” he said. “Eichler did a great thing. His houses were smart and cheap and good. That was the original vision for Apple. That’s what we tried to do with the first Mac. That’s what we did with the iPod.”
As for what inspired Joe Eichler, he briefly rented a small Usonian house by Frank Lloyd Wright, and said that the experience gave him his vision for creating inexpensive well-designed homes.
Lastly, while Jobs didn’t grow up in an Eichler, his Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak did. Learn more about Joe Eichler at eichlernetwork.com.