In celebration of Google’s 18th anniversary last September 27, 2016, we take a step back and admire the brief history of how this internet juggernaut became the household name it is today. And while there’s a bunch of doubt as to the real date, examining Google’s growth and success (technicalities aside) can give us some insight on how it changed the world for the better.
The Fruits of a Friendship
Every success story starts with an idea and in Google’s case, it was from a couple of Ph.D. students at Stanford University. As a research project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1996 nicknamed BackRub, which included a web crawler that both students developed. It would browse the web and gather data on which sites were linked to the most by others. Then, they developed the PageRank algorithm that converts that data into rankings based on the importance of the backlinks. It dawned on the pair that this method of indexing the web would provide enormous improvements over techniques that existed at the time. What started from an educated hunch would become a cult name the world over.
Garage in the Dot-com Bubble
It is said that some of the best projects were started in garages, and Google is no different. Before it became a thing, the search engine’s domain actually used Stanford’s website with the domain google.stanford.edu and it wasn’t until Sept. 4, 1998 that the pair of friends incorporated their company, Google, in their friend Susan Wojcicki’s garage. Amongst many competing search engines in the dot-com bubble, Google had the greatest potential because of its uncluttered design that was not only clean but also allowed for faster load times and by the end of 1998, Google has indexed 60 million pages.
Becoming the Juggernaut
About a year after its incorporation, the company moved into its first offices in Palo Alto and in 2003, it was moved into a leased complex of buildings in Mountain View where it is still located today.
Google raked in serious cash even further when they started selling ads in 2000. These ads were text-based and were tied to search keywords, which maintained fast loading speeds without compromising their simple design. While Google wasn’t the first to implement this sort of method of ad hosting, it steadily rose while its competitors slowly burned out.
Google’s mantra is simple. Don’t be evil. It’s even expressly stated in the prospectus for their 2004 IPO.
From then on Google slowly but surely rose to international recognition with services like Gmail and improved web search quality that provide students, businessmen, and everyday people the means to gather relevant, accurate information about anything in this world.
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing, though.
If you’ve been a netizen for the past couple or so years, you’ve probably heard of many a Google flop. Google+, though admittedly still squirming under the shadow of a certain popular social network, is actually Google’s fourth attempt to snatch its piece of the social network pie.
But risk is always part of business, and many of Google’s projects such as Google Earth, Street View, and up-and-comers like the World Wonders Project, Project Jacquard, and Project Soli show that Google is willing to take risks in order to give ordinary people like us the experiences we could have never dreamed of having merely a decade before.
Thankfully, Google is also venturing into platforms that teach the next generation the importance of computer programming. In the bid to introduce kids to coding at an early age, Scratch aligns with the ways kids like to think and learn by using a block-based platform, making it a friendly entry point for any kid who wants to delve into programming. And if you’re bored, you can try the Chrome-browser-based Lego building platform. You don’t even have to be a kid to enjoy this one.
From a fledgeling research paper to a full-on global entity, the growth of Google shows us what innovation can do to influence our lifestyles for the better. So here’s to Google’s continued efforts in making the world a smaller place.