Chrome turned 11 this month. Google became an adult today. Technically, google.com was registered in 1997, and Google LLC formed on September 4, 1998. However, Google officially celebrates its launch on September 27. No one has explained why. Regardless, the third-most-valuable company in the world is now 21, so here are 21 random facts about Google!
In the beginning, Larry Page and Sergey Brin named their web crawler BackRub. In 1997, they decided to rename it to Google. We’re grateful because no one wants to say, “Let me BackRub that.”
2. Googol – Not Google
The name Google comes from the term “googol,” which is a 1 followed by 100 zeros. However, there are several rumors about the origin of the spelling. The most popular story attributes the spelling to a fellow student mistyping the word when checking for a domain name. Good thing it wasn’t a test.
3. Chance Meeting
Page and Brin met by sheer chance. Page visited Stanford as a prospective graduate student. Brin gave Page a tour around the campus as a volunteer.
4. Just a Ph.D. Project
Google (or BackRub) was born out of an idea for Page’s doctoral thesis. Brin and Page used their combined math and computer science skills to create an algorithm called PageRank. Originally, this algorithm ranked pages based on the number and importance of links pointing to back to them. Even then, PageRank wasn’t intended to morph into a search engine.
5. Lego Storage
Page and Brin used Lego in the construction of the first Google server. The largest hard drives available at the time were only 4 gigabytes in size. They used 10 drives and chose to build the case out of Lego to allow for future expansion. Who needs 3D printers when you have a perfectly good Lego set?
6. Founders Didn’t Know HTML
Ever notice how simple the Google home page is? At first, this wasn’t a design choice. Neither Brin or Page knew HTML. They couldn’t even create a submit button, so users had to hit the return key on the keyboard for searches.
7. Google Tried to Sell
In 1999, Google tried to sell the company to Excite for $1 million. Excite turned them down. Oops.
8. First Google Doodle
In 1998, Page and Brin decided to go to the Burning Man festival. They let their users know they’d be out of the office with an image of the Burning Man stick figure behind the Google logo. Now, Google doodles range from artistic renditions of historic moments to a playable version of Pac-Man. We’re not responsible if you lose your job.
9. First Tweet
“I’m 01100110 01100101 01100101 01101100 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100000 01101100 01110101 01100011 01101011 01111001 00001010.” This was Google’s very first tweet. For those not fluent in binary, it reads “I’m feeling lucky” along with code for a new line of text.
10. YouTube Purchase Negotiated at Denny’s
Google and YouTube opted to meet outside the office to negotiate. They chose a place based on the simple criteria of “Where’s a place that none of us would go?”
11. Most Visited Sited
Today, more people visit Google than any other website in the world. Also, “google” is the most searched term on Bing, Microsoft’s search engine.
12. Gmail Launched On April Fool’s Day
Google intentionally announced Gmail on April 1, 2004 with a press release that included the phrase, “Heck, Yeah.” This led many people to assume Gmail was just another joke. A Google employee later told BBC, “We’re serious about Gmail.” See what happens when geeks try to tell jokes?
13. Jennifer Lopez Inspired Image Search
Technically, it was Jennifer Lopez’s green Versace dress from the 2000 Grammy Awards. The next day, “Jennifer Lopez green dress” became the most popular search term on Google, but users couldn’t see any pictures of the dress. Thus, Google was inspired to create Google Images. 19 years later, Jennifer Lopez donned the dress again last week. You can find images this time.
14. Easter Eggs
Just go google “askew” or “do a barrel roll.” You’re welcome.
15. Goat Rentals
Rather than use lawnmowers, Google rents goats to keep the landscape trimmed. Unfortunately, employees have to avoid stepping in the exhaust.
16. Search Interface Speaks Klingon
Besides Klingon, you can also choose, Elmer Fudd, Pig Latin, Pirate, and Bork, bork, bork! (the language of the Swedish Chef). You can also choose from a wide selection of real languages in your language preferences.
17. One Programmer Broke Google
One tiny mistake broke all Google searches in 2009. Someone accidentally added “/” to Google’s blocked website registry. Every website uses the character “/”, so no sites were accessible on Google. Coincidentally, a job opened up at Google later that day.
18. Company Buying Spree
On average, Google has purchased one company per week since 2010. If that rate continues, just owning a company gives you pretty good odds that Google will purchase it. Better start the paperwork now.
19. Free WiFi for Mountain View
Google’s home office resides in Mountain View, California. In 2006, the company launched free WiFi for the entire city. Although, they probably just wanted to make sure more people used Google.
20. New York Office Started in Starbucks
In 2000, Google launched its New York branch… with a one-person sales “team”… in a Starbucks. Everyone has to start somewhere.
21. Officially a Verb
Both Merriam-Webster and Oxford English dictionaries added the verb “google” in 2006. The official definition reads, “to use the Google search engine to obtain information about (someone or something) on the World Wide Web.” It’s a real word now. Go google stuff.