Friday, September 28, 2007

Happy Birthday Google

“Last week the candle factory burned down. Everyone just stood around and sang Happy Birthday.” ~ Stephen Wright, American Actor and Writer
Darn... it was yesterday and I missed it.

Google turned 9 years old yesterday. Wow... can you believe it's been nine years already?

Some claim it's actually 10 years old since Larry Page and Sergey Brin registered the domain in 1997, however, the company was officially launched one year later.

According to the Google Help Center, "Google opened its doors in September 1998. The exact date when we celebrate our birthday has moved around over the years, depending on when people feel like having cake." In the recent years, Google's birthday has been celebrated on September 27th with a doodle displayed on the homepage.There has also been questions as to the name... fact is Google is a play on the word "googol", which was coined by Milton Sirotta, and was popularized in the book, Mathematics and the Imagination by American mathematicians Edward Kasner and James Newman. It refers to the number represented by the numeral 1 followed by 100 zeros.

That is clear...but why is Google called Google?

Google's use of the term reflects the company's mission to organize the immense, seemingly infinite amount of information available on the web. And damn if they didn't do it, eh?

How did it start?

According to Google lore...
"company founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin were not terribly fond of each other when they first met as Stanford University graduate students in computer science in 1995. Larry was a 24-year-old University of Michigan alumnus on a weekend visit; Sergey, 23, was among a group of students assigned to show him around. They argued about every topic they discussed. Their strong opinions and divergent viewpoints would eventually find common ground in a unique approach to solving one of computing's biggest challenges: retrieving relevant information from a massive set of data.

By January of 1996, Larry and Sergey had begun collaboration on a search engine called BackRub, named for its unique ability to analyze the "back links" pointing to a given website. Larry, who had always enjoyed tinkering with machinery and had gained some notoriety for building a working printer out of Lego™ bricks, took on the task of creating a new kind of server environment that used low-end PCs instead of big expensive machines. Afflicted by the perennial shortage of cash common to graduate students everywhere, the pair took to haunting the department's loading docks in hopes of tracking down newly arrived computers that they could borrow for their network.

A year later, their unique approach to link analysis was earning BackRub a growing reputation among those who had seen it. Buzz about the new search technology began to build as word spread around campus.

Larry and Sergey continued working to perfect their technology through the first half of 1998. Following a path that would become a key tenet of the Google way, they bought a terabyte of disks at bargain prices and built their own computer housings in Larry's dorm room, which became Google's first data center. Meanwhile Sergey set up a business office, and the two began calling on potential partners who might want to license a search technology better than any then available. Despite the dotcom fever of the day, they had little interest in building a company of their own around the technology they had developed.

Among those they called on was friend and Yahoo! founder David Filo. Filo agreed that their technology was solid, but encouraged Larry and Sergey to grow the service themselves by starting a search engine company. "When it's fully developed and scalable," he told them, "let's talk again." Others were less interested in Google, as it was now known. One portal CEO told them, "As long as we're 80 percent as good as our competitors, that's good enough. Our users don't really care about search."
Great story, eh?

Nine years later... Google is Everything.

They changed the way the world acts when they go online, and they continue to be as innovative in year nine as they were in the early days.

I think the best description is that Google has grown into the electronic center of human knowledge.

That's cool.

Happy Birthday Google. Sorry, I didn't get you anything... but what do you get the search engine that has and is everything?