Click photo to enlarge
New Macintosh personal computers fill the conveyor belts in January 1984 at Apple Computer Company's new automated factory in Fremont, Calif. The plant produces a finished Macintosh every 27 seconds. (1984 Associated Press archive)
More Apple coverage

FREMONT -- The City Council on Tuesday ceased its effort to list a former Apple factory where Macintosh computers were made in the mid-1980s as a place of historic significance, and instead hope to place a plaque at the site.

The decision followed staff employees' recommendation to drop the matter after finding that the 30-year-old Warm Springs district building is too young to meet state and federal criteria for a historic designation. Buildings considered for historical significance usually must be at least 50 years old, Fremont planner Kelly Diekmann said. Also, researching the facility's history and preparing reports for historical review may have cost the city as much as $45,000.

Council members, led by Vice Mayor Anu Natarajan, were eager to align the city with the powerful posthumous aura of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, the tech titan who died a year ago of complications from pancreatic cancer.

"Last year, when we celebrated Steve Jobs Day here in Fremont, there was a sense that a global story was being told and somehow we were not at the table telling our story as effectively as we could," Natarajan said.

The factory's history goes back nearly 30 years.

In January 1984, Apple opened it on a 20-acre site at 48233 Warm Springs Blvd. The facility was equipped to build a Macintosh personal computer every 27 seconds, according to the city's report.

Fremont Mayor Gus Morrison said Tuesday he once received a phone call from Jobs, whose legend includes possessing a charisma and vision matched by his temper and hard-charging drive.

"I picked up the phone and he said, 'This is Steve Jobs and I'm' -- insert vernacular for really angry," Morrison said, smiling.

Morrison said he was able to calm Jobs by helping find a compromise that satisfied both the Apple boss and a city building inspector who had asked him to make structural changes to the factory.

Jobs left Apple in 1985, and a year later, the company moved its computer manufacturing operations out of state. The tech giant continued producing laser printers and software at the Fremont site until it closed for good in 1992.

The City Council's goal behind the historic status idea was to promote Fremont's heritage and underscore its significance to Silicon Valley and the tech industry.

While council members dropped the historic status idea, they still aim to honor its past.

"Maybe we don't go down the historic path but we should find a way to mark this and celebrate that presence," Natarajan said.

The property is owned by Warm Springs Properties, staff employees said. Next, city officials plan to contact the building's tenant, Hurricane Electric, for feedback about the plaque idea.

"I'm sure Hurricane Electric would be glad," Morrison said. "We'll put a plaque on it, and it will be a mecca for nerds."

Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.