Happy 18th Birthday Google! ...Or Is It?

Interesting Engineering

google[Image Source: Jdxyw]

You may have noticed a celebratory flavor to the Google Doodle when you jumped online today. Tuesday the 27th of September sees the celebration of Google's 18th birthday. From a university research project to the creation of a new verb, nobody can argue that Google has had a profound and lasting impact upon the digital age.

But why the 27th of September? Nobody can seem to agree on the true start date of this global phenomenon. In 2013, Doodle Team Leader Ryan Germick said:

“When is Google’s birthday? I’m not sure even we know. Still, while there’s some differing opinions about when to bust out the candles and cake, one fun fact is that our first doodle was posted even before Google was officially incorporated."

Five days before, to be precise. Google's official incorporation date is 4 September 1998. The first Doodle appeared on 30 August 1998 and was essentially an out of office message. Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin were headed to the Burning Man festival, a fact they wished to share with Google users. This cute little sketch birthed the trend for visual event celebration by changes to the logo.

burning-man-1998-first-google-doodle[Image source: Google]

Today's birthday Doodle was designed by Gerben Steenks.

Previous year's birthday celebrations have fallen on up to six dates in September, with no apparent reason for choosing one over another. The current date has been celebrated since 2012, when the Doodle of the day was a cake that disappeared in chunks to reveal the company name in negative space below.

A peek at the timeline of Google's childhood and adolescence shows an extraordinary trajectory. From their first meeting at Stanford University in 1995, power duo Sergey Brin and Larry Page couldn't have suspected the digital behemoth they would create together.

Working together on a school project called the Stanford Digital Library Project (SDLP), their work required the development of a collation and classification tool for websites. 1996 saw the launch of their first information collecting tool, named BackRub. This web searching algorithm led to the idea of the "Page Rank", a means of identifying how important a page is to users based on the number of links pointing to it. This ranking by relevancy still drives the way in which Google lists pages today.

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With incorporation in 1998, Brin and Page got the name from the word 'googol', which is the number 1 followed by 100 zeros. Two years later, the first ten language versions of Google are released: French, German, Italian, Swedish, Finnish, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Norwegian and Danish. This number has exploded to over 150 languages in 2016.

Google Images first appeared in mid-2001, with initial access to 250 million images. This number is now estimated to be around one trillion.

The launch of Google News followed in 2002, starting out with around 4,000 news sources. This now exceeds 50,000, with an estimated 6 billion clicks per month as of 2012.

Despite the 2004 April Fools Day launch date, Gmail was quickly taken seriously and is now the most popular email service in the world, boasting a staggering one billion users.

Google Maps and Google Earth were launched the following year, making virtual world travel a possibility for the first time.

larry page google[Image source: Alfred Hermida/Flickr]

2006 saw Google's purchase of YouTube, an acquisition that cost $1.65 billion US dollars. YouTube estimates its number of users at around one billion, approximately a third of all internet users.

Google Chrome hit our screens in 2008 and has now eclipsed the competition as the world's most popular browser.

Late 2010 saw Google announce the development of self-driving car technology, reporting the wish to reduce carbon emissions and accidents while increasing people's time.

Google Co-Founder Sergey Brin Sports the New Google Glasses[Image source: Thomas Hawk/Flickr]

Google Glass first appeared in 2012, meant to herald the next level in wearable technology.

Just last year, Google announced the establishment of new parent company, Alphabet. The new corporate structure sees the independence of former Google companies focused on less internet-specific work, allowing a leaner Google to do what it does best.

Quoted on the new Alphabet information page, the original company founders' letter said:

“Google is not a conventional company. We do not intend to become one.”

Happy birthday, Google. You earn our thanks with every successful search.

SEE ALSO: Google might acquire Twitter soon

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