When was the last time that you searched something on Google? Not long ago, right?
The Google search engine processes more than 40,000 search queries every second which means 3.5 billion searches per day and typically 1.2 trillion searches per year.
There’s no doubt that Google is one of the biggest inventions in the history of the internet. It is not that Google is the first of its kind, search engines have been around since the early days of the internet. But Google, which was relatively a latecomer, went on to become the ultimate destination for almost every search.
So, how did Google go on to become what it is today? or what is the history of Google?
The write-up will take you on a quick tour around the history of Google – right from its inception till today. Let’s begin:
Where it all started?
It all began in the summer of 1995 when Larry Page and Sergey Brin met at Stanford University, where the former
was considering Stanford for a grad, while the latter was already two years into the program. Though their earlier encounters were filled with some disagreements due to the fact that both of them were highly intellectual, they still used to discuss about a lot of things.
They eventually ended up striking a partnership. They built a search engine that considered backlinks as an important factor while ranking individual pages. They named it Backrub. It considered pages with a higher number of links to be of more use and hence ranked them higher in search results. Initially, the engine ran on Stanford servers, but gradually started clogging up much space and as a result was later registered as Google.com on September 15th, 1997.
Google’s iconic logo has undergone several changes and revivals throughout its history. The first logo, designed by Brin, was created using GIMP. Google unveiled its revised logo in September 2015. Prior to this, its previous logo, designed by graphic designer Ruth Kadar, was used between 1999 and 2013. The script was based on the Catull typeface, and old serif typeface designed by Gustav Jaeger for the Berthold Type Foundry in 1982.
The company’s logo also regularly undergoes modifications, such as cartoons for holidays, birthdays for famous people or major events. These special logos, some designed by Dennis Hwang, have become known as Google Doodles.
But what about the colors? Graphic designer Ruth Kedar explains “There were a lot of different color iterations”, “We ended up with the primary colors, but instead of having the pattern go in order, we put a secondary color on the L, which brought back the idea that Google doesn’t follow the rules.”
Things you may not have known about Google
1. Keep it in the family
Carl Page, Larry’s brother, helped start groups and dot.com company in the 90’s. It was bought for almost half a billion dollars in 2000 by Yahoo. If Google had flopped, Larry probably would’ve been ok – nice.
2. Birds of feather
A little-known chap called Robin Li had developed a similar concept to Google when he worked for a company owned by Dow Jones. Both proposals were based on the concept of ranking pages on links, not content. Dow Jones wasn’t sure what to do with the idea (called RankDex) and so Li left the company and moved to China. Here’s his patent listing. And here is google’s listing.
3. Stanford sell out
Google’s algorithm is called PageRank. You may intuitively think this is based on the rank system but it’s actually named after Larry Page. The patent for this is still held by Stanford. They received 1.8mm shares of the eventual company of Google, which they sold in 2005 for $336 million. This just goes to show that encouraging developers in academia can really pay off.
PageRank not only ranks on pages based on links, it is also able to show which “species” are about to go extinct. In effect, it works by determining which pages have the most links to them and thus are less likely to disappear into obscurity. Pretty neat.
5. Everything is politics
Page and Brin, unsurprisingly, are two of the richest men in the US. Did you know that they don’t make any political contributions? Their contemporaries do, however. Google as an entity, on the other hand, is constantly lobbying. Last year, Google spent more on this than Yahoo, Facebook and Apple combined.
6. I’m Feeling Lucky
It is estimated that the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button cost’s Google $110 million in ad revenue a year. When you click on that button it just takes you to the top search result. In other words, you skip all the ads that Google makes money on.
This leaves the obvious question, “Why keep it?”. Results from focus groups have shown that people feel more comfortable with the button there. Interestingly users very rarely “feel lucky”, however. It’s hardly ever used.
7. Number One Employee
Google’s first employee, Craig Silverstein continued working at the company until 2012. Though he’d moved up the ladder a bit. He now works for the Khan Academy. It is estimated that his total worth is around $950 million.
See, loyalty does pay.
8. Why is Google’s homepage so bland?
It is rumored that the home page is so sparse because the founders didn’t know HTML code and just wanted a quick interface. Also initially there wasn’t even a “submit” button. Users had to hit the “return” key to generate a Google search.
9. Did you mean?
Google’s traffic doubled after introducing this feature. Its usefulness is obvious to anyone who has ever used their search engine, especially the incorporation of its handy spellchecker.
10. Two-pennies to rub together
Brin and page used to hang out around the Stanford Computer Science Department loading docks. Their hope was to borrow newly arrived PC’s to use in their network.
11. First data center
Google’s first data center was Larry Page’s dorm room.
12. That’s good enough
When Page and Brin were trying to find buyers to license their search tech, one portal CEO gave them an interesting response. “As long as we’re 80 percent as good as our competitors, that’s good enough. Our users don’t really care about search.”
13. Grow some balls!
When Google first moved to Googleplex, large rubber balls were repurposed as high mobility office chairs. This was handy as their office was open, a non-cubicle environment.
Google.com’s beta label was removed on September 21, 1999