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A rendering of Augusta Apartments in Seattle’s University District. Image: Runberg Architecture Group.

The name “Augusta Apartments” might not seem like a programming reference, but it is, and it’s just one of the ways that the new project by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s Vulcan Real Estate is connected to the history of software.

Paul Allen
Paul Allen

The 208-unit, seven-story project, which broke ground yesterday in Seattle’s University District, is named after Ada Lovelace, formally known as Augusta Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace, widely regarded as the world’s first computer programmer.

The site, at 4041 Roosevelt Way NE, was the home of Computer Center Corporation (CCC) in the late 1960s — one of the key locations where Allen and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates programmed computers as kids, before founding Microsoft.

This archival video, featured by 60 Minutes in 2011, shows Gates and Allen revisiting the site. A 60 Minutes producer described it as the tech equivalent of the site where John Lennon and Paul McCartney learned to play guitar.

As Vulcan explains in a news release, “The company offered the two high school students free use of its timesharing computers in exchange for help debugging their PDP-10 mainframe. Allen and Gates could be found there after school, late into the night and during the weekends. When the debugging work was complete the boys successfully convinced CCC to allow them continued free access to computers in exchange for programming work. Paul Allen’s personal connection to the site led to Vulcan’s purchase in 2001.”

Allen and Gates touring the former CCC site in an archival video. (Via CBS News.)
Allen and Gates touring the former CCC site in an archival video. (Click for 60 Minutes video.)

Designed by Runberg Architecture Group, the Augusta Apartments will be built by Exxel Pacific Inc.

“We are very excited to have the opportunity to add to the incredible vibrancy of the University District,” said Ada M. Healey, vice president of real estate for Vulcan Inc, in a statement. “We are also looking forward to honoring Paul Allen’s connection to the 41st & Roosevelt site and finding ways to celebrate its history.”

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