Alternate history idea: what if Albuquerque had remained the center of the tech industry instead of it all moving to San Francisco and Seattle

Microsoft started a couple blocks away from my high school, in the same vicinity as MITS which was the original big player in personal computing. Jeff Bezos also grew up in Albuquerque. This could have happened.

There’s also a surprising amount of military/defense research in Albuquerque due to there being a military weapons lab (Kirtland) and a department of energy lab (Sandía). There’s a reason the Half Life games are set in Black Mesa, NM, which is a real place (although not the setting of an actual shadow government research lab as far as I know).

And of course Roswell and Los Alamos and White Sands aren’t very far away either.

Seattle and San Francisco were both vastly transformed, mostly for the worse, by the tech industry, in part because both cities are very physically-constrained and zoned in ways that make it difficult to increase in density. Albuquerque is much larger, land-area-wise, and also has a lot more internal room for growth in the various business districts.

Also Rio Rancho's original expansion plan was quite ambitious and intended to make it into a large bustling tech metropolis. As far as I know most of the planned city blocks were never actually built.

I guess one way in which this alternate history would have been Bad for Albuquerque is that the already-overburdened water infrastructure would have gotten even worse.

But on the plus side the mass transit would have probably gotten a lot better faster. (It's not *bad* as far as American cities go although the city is still extremely car-dependent in general.)

Another impact would be that the Albuquerque airport would probably be running at full capacity and wouldn't have such a limited schedule with most airlines.

I don't know how it is right now (I haven't visited in a while) but the airport originally had like four terminals and they've only had two of them in operation for *ages*. Like, terminals C and D were shut down as part of a major renovation and they never opened back up.

Ah, apparently terminal C eventually got repurposed as offices for the TSA. Ugh.

Anyway. Presumably housing would have gotten prohibitively expensive in Albuquerque and the cost of living would have gone up immensely, even with the massive amounts of land available there; see how much the areas around San Francisco have also become unaffordable sprawl nightmares (especially around San Jose and Mountain View, which are "Silicon Valley" proper).

Also there'd probably still be tech in California, what with Apple starting there not too long after MITS released the Altair.

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Another alternate history take: what if the pandemic caused tech companies to realize they could ACTUALLY go fully-remote and let people live wherever the fuck they wanted

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@fluffy the whole RTO thing is literally about protecting real estate investments and the “business press” is already trying to convince people they should go back cause there’s not gonna be enough remote jobs. 🥴

@mariusz yeah it's pretty ridiculous and transparent

It's funny how tech companies have crammed as many people as possible into as little office space as possible, and then when given the opportunity to not have to pay for real estate at all anymore are doubling-down on the crowded "open space" conditions that are so awful for actual productivity

@fluffy most big ones already bought some real estate and when people aren’t in it, the line doesn’t go up, and since everything in the world now is investment banking, the line must go up.

@mariusz well yeah, amazon owns HUGE chunks of Seattle now and have completely transformed the South Lake Union area in particular.

@fluffy this happens in some companies. #Meta, my employer (let's not sidetrack this by discussing ethics) let employees in job functions go fully remote and in fact encourages it. We can already work anywhere in the US or Canada for a US based team (pay is adjusted, and right now outside the US the adjustment is .. not ideal), and a similar arrangement is being expanded in Europe

@michel_slm That's good to hear! I'm glad they're being realistic about things.

My current employer (Hover) is also taking that approach, where employees get a cost-of-living adjustment based on where they are but are fully supported for working from home no matter where "home" is, even if they're living in the same city as an office.

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