Google is running a doodle today celebrating its 14th birthday. For some reason, in recent years, the company has chosen this date to celebrate.
When asked about the date, a Google spokesperson simply tells WebProNews, “We celebrate Google’s birthday in the month of September, when a couple of significant events took place — from filing for incorporation to registering the domain. During the past few years, it’s become a bit of a tradition to create a doodle on the 27th to commemorate the company’s birthday.”
Google was actually founded on September 4, 1998. Google flat out tells you this if you search for “when was google founded”:
Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin met at Stanford University in 1995. By 1996, they had built a search engine (initially called BackRub) that used links to determine the importance of individual webpages.
Larry and Sergey named the search engine they built “Google,” a play on the word “googol,” the mathematical term for a 1 followed by 100 zeros. Google Inc. was born in 1998, when Sun co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim wrote a check for $100,000 to that entity—which until then didn’t exist.
Regardless of the date, it’s pretty incredible to think about how Google has grown since this time; not only the search engine, but all of the other products and projects the company has launched over the years. I mean, look at Google Glass and Google’s self-driving cars, which are inspiring new laws. Who ever thought the quirky little search engine of 1998 would evolve into all of this?
In a corporate timeline, Google shares an early review of its search engine from long-time industry analyst Danny Sullivan. In The Search Engine Report from August 4, 1998, Sullivan wrote:
Google is an experimental search engine that, like Clever, uses weighted link popularity as a primary part of its ranking mechanism. Each page has a rank, based on the number of other pages linking to it and the importance of those pages. Importance, as with Clever, is derived from an overall link count.
Google also makes extensive use of the text within hyperlinks. This text is associated with the pages the link points at, and it makes it possible for Google to find matching pages even when these pages cannot themselves be indexed.
An important difference from Clever is that Google actually crawls the web itself, rather than analyzing a core set of pages from another search engine. Thus, its results should be more comprehensive. Over 25 million pages have been indexed, and the goal is to gear up toward 100 million or more.
Google also provides some ranking boosts on page characteristics. The appearance of terms in bold text, or in header text, or in a large font size is all taken into account. None of these are dominant factors, but they do figure into the overall equation.
So how about the results? I think many people will be pleased, especially for the ever-popular single and two-word queries. A search for “bill clinton” brought the White House site up at number one. A search for “disney” top-ranked disney.com, and sections within it like Disney World, the Disney Channel, and Walt Disney Pictures. Yet interesting alternative sites, such as Werner’s Unofficial Disney Park Links, also made it on the list.
According to that corporate timeline, Google also rented a work space in Susan Wojcicki’s garage in Menlo Park in September of 1998.
The September 27 date does make an appearance in this early “About Google!” (note the exclamation point) document, as the last time it was updated. The contents of that page are as follows:
- Current Development: Sergey Brin, Larry Page, and Craig Silverstein
- Design and Implementation Assistance: Scott Hassan and Alan Steremberg
- Faculty Guidance: Hector Garcia-Molina, Rajeev Motwani, Jeffrey D. Ullman, and Terry Winograd
- Research Funding: NSF, NASA, DARPA and Interval Research
- Equipment Donations: IBM, Intel, and Sun
- Equipment Consulting: Penguin Computing
- Software: GNU, Linux, Python, Parasoft (debugging), and Gimp (logo design)
- Collaborating Groups in the Computer Science Department at Stanford University: The Digital Libraries Project, The Project on People Computers and Design, The Database Group, The Stanford InfoLab, The MIDAS Data Mining Group, and The Theory Division
- Outside Collaborators: Interval Research Corporation and the IBM Almaden Research Center
- Technical Assistance: The Computer Science Department’s Computer Facilities Group, Stanford’s Distributed Computing and Intra-Networking Systems Group
Have some memories to share about Google’s 14 years of existence? Feel free to share in the comments.