Steve Jobs’ ‘Eichler’ is no Eichler

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Apple founder Steve Jobs drew inspiration from California's mid-century modern architecture—but contrary to popular myth, a best-selling biography, and scores of erroneous blogs, the Mountain View house he grew up in was not constructed by renowned builder Joe Eichler. After an in-depth investigation, the authoritative Eichler Network reveals the truth about Jobs' mid-century modern home, and puts it into perspective.

Steve Jobs' boyhood home

Steve Jobs’ boyhood home in Mountain View today. (photo: David Toerge - courtesy EichlerNetwork.com) You may reproduce this image as long as you include the photo credit.

"...the Bay Area-based Eichler Network has learned that Jobs’ boyhood home, built in 1955 in a Mountain View tract, is not an Eichler home."

California’s mid-century modern homes built by Joe Eichler got national attention recently when Walter Isaacson revealed in his best-selling biography Steve Jobs that the founder of Apple spent his impressionable youthful years growing up in one. But the Bay Area-based Eichler Network has learned that Jobs’ boyhood home, built in 1955 in a Mountain View tract, is not an Eichler home. It was designed by Eichler’s original architectural team, Anshen and Allen, but for a different builder, Mackay Homes, which built a small Mountain View subdivision a few blocks from a neighborhood of 200 Eichler homes.

An article detailing the Eichler Network’s discovery has been posted on its web site, EichlerNetwork.com, and a follow-up article will appear in the upcoming spring ’12 issue of its magazine, CA-Modern.

Ten years ago, the Eichler Network revealed that the other founder of Apple, Steve Wozniak, did in fact grow up in an Eichler home, in nearby Sunnyvale. Wozniak confirmed in a recent interview that Jobs’ home was no Eichler.

Like Eichler homes, Anshen and Allen’s Mackay homes have free-flowing spaces and are open to the out of doors through wall-to-ceiling glass. They are admirable homes, and it is not surprising that Jobs claimed his boyhood home strongly influenced his design aesthetic and in turn the simple, clean look of the Apple product line.

There are, however, differences between Eichlers and Mackays, related to the foundation, heating and materials, and styling.

Ned Eichler, Joe’s son and Eichler Homes’ marketing manager beginning in 1954, confirmed the Mountain View home in which Jobs lived “is not an Eichler,” a judgment backed by local real estate agents who specialize in mid-century homes. The Mountain View homes are identical to confirmed Mackay homes in nearby Santa Clara, where Mackay sales brochures identify Anshen and Allen as the homes’ architects.

Eichler Homes have won a cult following among people who appreciate simple, innovative, fine design and the utopian vision that gave birth to such homes in the optimistic years after World War II. Eichler didn’t invent the style of homes, which is rooted in the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and in European modernism. California was rich in modern design in the postwar years, with hundreds of talented architects who designed custom homes and subdivisions.

Dave Weinstein, senior staff writer for the Eichler Network’s CA-Modern magazine, and director/publisher Marty Arbunich winced when bloggers went viral with the tale of Jobs living in an Eichler before fact-checking to see if it were true.

When told that the Eichler Network was preparing this report, some Eichler fans protested, fearing it would harm the Steve Jobs mystique or downplay the value of Eichler homes. “That has never been the intention of the Eichler Network,” Arbunich said.

For the past two decades, CA-Modern magazine and EichlerNetwork.com have produced in-depth, accurate historical articles about mid-century California architects, builders, and artists, often focusing on work that is wrongly forgotten and uncovering stories that would otherwise be lost to time. “Our goal,” said Weinstein, “has always been to get the story right.”

About the Eichler Network:
Living Today...the Mid-Century Modern Way

The Eichler Network provides home improvement, lifestyle, and design-oriented content and direction for owners of California’s Eichlers and other mid-century modern homes. Founded in 1993, the Eichler Network produces CA-Modern Magazine, EichlerNetwork.com, and free email publications, all focused on helping readers get the most enjoyment from their mid-century modern classics. The Eichler Network also supports a referral network of home service companies (from remodeling to radiant heat and roofing maintenance) and products (from specially-designed insulated windows to customized exterior siding).

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Dave Weinstein, CA-Modern Staff Writer
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