We’ve already talked about the modern history of the Coworking Movement (or the co-working one! They’re the same thing, we checked!), but no ideas come from a vacuum, not really. Isaac Newton once said “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Even that was just an English version of an earlier phrase he stole from Latin; nanos gigantum humeris insidentes. This phrase, and Newton’s words, expresses the meaning of discovering truth by building on previous discoveries. Coworking, of course, is no different than any other discovery. Let’s cast our minds back a bit in time, and explore the history of the hackerspace.
A hackerspace, makerspace, or hacklab is defined in the dictionary as “a place in which people with an interest in computing or technology can gather to work on projects while sharing ideas, equipment, and knowledge.” Let’s break that down a little. A hackerspace is a location, often community run, where people collaborate, socialize, and work together on technological and mechanical projects and problems. They often are equipped with computers (obviously), 3D printers, soldering irons and the other tools of the mechanist and the programmer. They’re spaces to learn, to study, and to work. And, whether or not the first coworkers were aware of them, they can be considered the Coworking Movement’s direct predecessor.
But where, one might ask, did hackerspaces get their start? Well, most people say that honor goes to the “c-base” in Berlin, Germany. In 1995, a group of 17 people founded “c-base station,” a place they jokingly claim was a German space station that crashed to the ground and buried itself under Berlin. There was (and still is) a disco ball in the building that they say is the station’s antenna. Just roll with it. Together, the people of c-base station would mess around with technology in order to make it do things it wasn’t designed for. The term “hacker” didn’t mean “malicious person messing around with computer files to get at your data” at the time.
Eventually, hackerspaces evolved to allow for the much broader range of activities they now tend to include. We can chalk that up to Metalab in 2006 in Vienna, Austria. Inspired in part by c-base, Metalab kicked off the movement proper. Notable moments in its history include the birth of several startup companies, such as the AXIOM camera. Also in 2006 was the founding of TechShop, the first chain of for-profit hackerspaces.
Though it didn’t lead directly into the formation of the Coworking Movement, there is a certain kinship between us and the Hackerspace Movement, and it’s important to acknowledge those who came before (and those who are still here) regarding our history. Who knows? The next big thing may be just around the corner, and you may be its architect.
If you are interested in getting some hands on experience with CoWorking in order to collect your foundation (or your giant’s shoulders) before you go out and create that next big thing, come check out Sprout. Use us a supplemental business resource. We’re happy to help.