Along Coyote Creek on a far-flung San Jose, California trail, a mysterious plaque sits next to a bike path. At first glance, it appears to be entirely covered in ones and zeroes. But from a different angle, the words “Santa Clara Valley” are faintly visible, etched beneath the numbers.
The reason for the plaque’s strange location is that it marks the geographical center of the Santa Clara Valley, which may be more familiar by its other moniker: Silicon Valley. The numbers, as it happens, spell out three words in binary. The six rows of numbers read as follows:
(For non-coders, go ahead and plug the code in here and select ‘ASCII’ from the ‘Character encoding’ menu for the answer.)
The origins of the plaque remain a mystery. Often, it’s referred to as “the Tamienne Monument,” which contains a misspelling of the name of the local Tamyen people. One theory has it that the plaque was set there in the 1980s by the IBM engineers who worked and innovated nearby. Another, likelier theory is that a local artist installed the plaque (with the city’s blessing) in the early 2000s. Regardless of its origin, there’s an intriguing contrast to the remote, windswept location for this decidedly analog monument to technology.