Google turns 23 today! The search engine giant we all know today was established on September 4, 1998, by two Stanford Ph.D. students, Sergey Brin and Larry Page. Google has changed a lot since its inception, from being a search engine to creating operating systems and self-driving cars, Google’s come a long way. On its 23rd anniversary, let’s take a look at Google’s history, some facts about Google you might not know, and what the company has been doing recently.
Google began as a research project for two brilliant minds on the Earth — Sergey Brin and Larry Page. They, along with a third co-founder who left the company in 1998, Scott Hassan, created a PageRank algorithm which is the brain of today’s Google. Interestingly, Page’s and Brin’s paper cited a paper written by Robin Li, who later went on to the Chinese search engine Baidu.
Google was initially funded by four prime investors: co-founder of then-popular Sun Microsystems Andy Bechtolsheim, Standford University’s professors, entrepreneur Ram Shriram, and most surprisingly, Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos. Google.com was registered on September 15, 1997, and the company was finally incorporated on September 4, 1998. It’s come a long way since then, but before we take a look at what’s Google doing these days, let’s take a look at some of the interesting facts about Google you might not know.
Some interesting facts
The name ‘Google’ was a spelling error
Yes! Page and Brin settled on ‘Googol’ as the name for their search engine giant. Googol is a term for a very large number (ten raised to the power of a hundred). Page and Brin were fascinated by the name, but when they were registering their website back in 1998, they found ‘Googol.com’ wasn’t available. Instead, they registered their website as ‘Google.com,’ and we know how it all worked out for Page and Brin.
Google was originally known as ‘Project BackRub’
We all know Google is a ‘web crawler’ that scans all the websites for it to index content. When Page and Brin were writing their first web crawler program, they named it ‘Project BackRub.’ Some speculate that the early search engine’s nomenclature was a nod to retrieving backlinks. It lived on Stanford’s server for a while in the 90s but was eventually discarded cause of chewing up a lot of bandwidth.
Gmail was introduced on April’s Fools Day
The widely-used emailing service we all know was introduced on April 1, 2004. People didn’t believe it, at first. A CNN report in 2004 claimed Google was giving away 1GB for its emailing service — 1GB storage in 2004 was considered a lot — made people more suspicious. But then we all know how it worked out for the Mountain View giant.
Google wanted to sell its search engine to Yahoo in 1997
Google’s Page and Brin, before they officially launched the search engine in 1998, approached Yahoo when they were making the rounds for backing in Silicon Valley. According to a book written by John Battelle, Brin and Page wanted to sell the patented technology PageRank system for $1 million. But, Yahoo wasn’t interested back then. Then, in 2002 when Google’s valuation raised, Yahoo presented an offer to buy Google for $3 billion, but the duo turned it down.
First Google Server was made out of stacked Legos
The first storage system ever used by Google was indeed made out of Legos. Co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin built it themselves. It’s quite interesting to see that the server used all the Google colors — red, yellow, blue, and green. Hard drives, at the time, maxed out at 4GB, and they piled 10 into this Lego motel. In 1999, Brin and Page gave it to Stanford University.
What is up with Google nowadays?
Google has forayed into many areas since its inception. The company is into video streaming, making smartphones, it makes the world’s most used operating system, it has the most widely used navigation software, it’s into could computing, and whatnot. In 2015, Google announced its plans to reorganize its various interests as a conglomerate named Alphabet Inc. Google is now a subsidiary of Alphabet, Sundar Pichai is its CEO, and Larry Page is an Alphabet board member, employee, and controlling shareholder. Most recently, the company held its I/O conference in May 2021, where it announced Android 12 and AI advancements such as LaMDA, MUM, and more.
The company, which started as a research project, has come a long way, and I can’t wait to see where it’s headed.