CUPERTINO -- For its highly anticipated event this fall, Apple is going back to where it all began.
The company sent out a terse invitation Thursday for an event Sept. 9 at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts in Cupertino, where Apple's original Macintosh computer was unveiled 30 years ago.
Although Apple did not disclose the purpose of the gathering, the company has unveiled new iPhones in September events the past two years. Apple is widely expected to enlarge its signature smartphone this fall with screens of 4.7 and 5.5 inches, and some suspect that the company has something more dramatic, such as a wearable device in the pipeline as well.
The invitation was characteristically tight-lipped: "Wish we could say more," it read.
The choice of venue seems to say more than the invitation, signaling that Apple has something big in store.
"The historical significance suggests that Apple has another blockbuster product ready to be released," said Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies.
The construction occurring at Flint Center also suggests a big production. Frank Mangini, a 73-year-old Cupertino resident, has noticed a large construction project going on around the center in his past two Sunday walks with his wife, Sharon, through the DeAnza College campus where the venue is located.
"It looked like a sound stage going up for a rock concert behind Flint Center," Mangini said in describing the scene two Sundays ago, with lights on a grid above the stage being built in view of a nearby fountain and duck pond.
Mangini said the structure had become even more enormous by last Sunday's walk, with walls around the stage structure that he estimated at three stories high. Mangini, who was an electrical engineer and now teaches part time at UC Santa Cruz's Silicon Valley extension campus in Santa Clara, took note of huge power cables run through pipes to a transformer at least a couple hundred yards away.
Mangini asked a worker about the construction project and received a terse answer.
"We really can't say," the worker told him. "All I can say is this is one of the largest shows I've ever worked on, and I've worked on them for 30 years."
Mangini, who moved to Cupertino in 1974 and celebrated his 50th anniversary with his wife last year, said the construction and huge amounts of electricity piped to it seems to point to some kind of light show or rock concert -- or both -- happening outside Flint Center.
"It's a very professional job," he said Thursday. "It looks like Hollywood to me -- there's a lot of money going into this."
Dozens of construction workers could be seen working on the project Thursday afternoon, some seeking refuge from the sun beneath white tents and others guarding the doors to Flint Center. Several workers refused to comment about the project, but one said that the new structure is temporary. Blue and white signs posted next to the auditorium read: "CONFIDENTIAL event. No photos on property. No blogging. Thank You!"
An employee with ABM, which is overseeing security on the site, instructed a reporter to call Apple about the project.
The company has not unveiled a new product at Flint Center since the late 1990s, instead using such venues as Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, the California Theatre in San Jose and its own Cupertino headquarters.
The Apple workers who created the Mac returned to Flint Center earlier this year to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its debut, when co-founder Steve Jobs wowed the crowd by making the personal computer talk.
Daniel Kottke, an original Apple employee who co-produced the January event, noted that the 2,400-seat venue posed some complications, such as tight scheduling. But a big enough event would be worth the trouble, he said.
"Those of us who love Apple products will be very interested to see what happens," said Kottke, 60, who lives in Palo Alto.
Representatives for Apple and Flint Center did not respond to requests for comment.