Google Image Search first came out in 2001. Back then, Google says it indexed around 250 million images. By 2005, the company says it indexed over a billion. As of today, it's over 10 billion.
"When you think about 'information,' what probably comes to mind are streams of words and numbers," says Google Images Product Manager Nate Smith. "Google’s pretty good at organizing these types of information, but consider all the things you can’t express with words: what does it look like in the middle of a sandstorm? What are some great examples of Art Nouveau architecture? Should I consider wedding cupcakes instead of a traditional cake?"
"This is why we built Google Images in 2001," adds Smith. "We realized that for many searches, the best answer wasn’t text—it was an image or a set of images. The service has grown quite a bit since then."
Google has released numerous features to Image Search over the years, and is always experimenting with design tweaks. This will likely continue.
The new version of Google's Image Search is in the process of rolling out.