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Google Turns 23! Celebrating Google’s Birthday in 2021

It seems that Google has been around forever. But does anyone actually know when Google’s birthday is? Even though September 8, 1998 marks the official debut of the search...

Fiona Gurtiza
Fiona Gurtiza September 27, 2021

It seems that Google has been around forever. But does anyone actually know when Google’s birthday is?

Even though September 8, 1998 marks the official debut of the search engine giant, Google has been celebrating on September 27. And this September 27, 2021, Google is officially 23 years old.

Over two decades, the search engine giant has shaped modern life by making it easier for people to navigate the ever-expansive ocean of info on the internet. Thanks to Google, we can learn about the latest COVID-19 news or immerse ourselves in augmented reality through Snapchat and TikTok.

Google has done what was once impossible with just a few clicks.

As we celebrate Google’s 23rd anniversary, let’s take a step back and see how it started as a novel search engine to a company that spins out self-driving cars.

Image taken from Google

Where It All Began

Google started as the research project of Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Stanford University in 1995. The pair was enrolled in Stanford’s Computer Science graduate program and was dead set on improving how people interacted with the wealth of info on the World Wide Web.

Together, they created the PageRank algorithm to rank search engine results based on the number and quality of links to a page. The PageRank algorithm serves as the backbone for Google’s current ranking mechanism, except that the algorithm we’re familiar with today is far more complex.

As the duo continued to index more pages and gather more link information, they created a basic search engine tool. They named it Google, an intentional misspell of the mathematical term “googol,” or the digit 1 followed by 100 zeroes. 

Page and Brin launched the first version of Google on the Stanford website in 1996, and it proved to be the most powerful search engine of its time. 

A Few Caveats

Google’s initial launch proved to be a success, and Stanford leaders were impressed. The only problem was that the search engine depended on a crazy amount of resources.

Some webmasters weren’t happy with the bandwidth issues, and described Google’s constant request for website info as “trespassing.” Others were simply frustrated that a couple of students from Stanford were dictating how their websites ranked. 

An online art museum even contacted Stanford and attempted to sue after the site crawler requested every single page on its site. The museum thought Google was trying to steal its images and the issues continued between 1997-1998.

Looking back, it’s surprising how much resistance people had back then about the concept of search engines and how their site ranked on the search results. And it paved the way for a better understanding of how SEO works.

A Timeline of Achievements

Even though Google was just the brainchild of two grad school students, it quickly skyrocketed into success. In fact, Google’s parent company — Alphabet Inc — became the third tech company in the US to surpass $1 trillion in market value (only behind Apple and Microsoft).

Google has one of the most staggeringly influential runs out of any corporation in history. Check out some of its achievements and milestone over the years:

August 1998: Google Receives Angel Funding

Andy Bechtolsheim, a Stanford alumni and co-founder of Sun Microsystems, invests $100,000 to Page and Brin, marking Google’s first investment. After receiving the capital, the pair move into their first office in Menlo Park, California (or the garage space of a mutual friend (Susan Wojcicki).

October 2000: Google AdWords Sees the Light of Day

After outgrowing its initial office in Menlo Park, California, Google starts selling through Google AdWords. The platform lets marketers purchase relevant, industry-related keywords that appear next to the search engine results.

April 2004: The Birth of Gmail

Image taken from TIME

On April 1st 2004, Google launched Gmail to the public. The webmail service offered users 1GB of free storage space and advanced search capabilities, making it superior to other competing email service providers. Many speculated that it was simply an April Fool’s prank (it wasn’t).

February 2005: To Satellite Imagery & Beyond

Google starts venturing beyond the internet highway and introduces tools that help people get from point A to B. It launches Google Maps that gives step-by-step directions on how people can get from one place to another. Shortly after that, Google introduces Google Earth, which lets people see far-flung locations from their monitor.

July 2005: Android Becomes a Part of Google

Google shells out roughly $50 million to acquire Android, a mobile phone software company struggling to stay afloat. 

October 2006: Google Acquires YouTube

Image taken from Twitter

The search engine giant acquires YouTube for $1.65 billion after outbidding companies like Microsoft and Yahoo. 

September 2008: Google Launches the Chrome Browser

Image taken from Ghacks

The world says hello the Google Chrome, an ultra-fast minimalist web browser that competes with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Apple’s Safari. Today, Google Chrome is the world’s most dominant web browser.

October 2010: Google’s Self-Driving Cars

Image taken from Business Insider

In 2010, Google takes the world by surprise and rolls out a fleet of seven Toyota Priuses. These autonomous vehicles feature AI and have the ability to drive on their own. Later on, these self-driving cars would turn into a standalone business called Waymo. 

June 2011: Google+ Joins the Pack

Image taken from Day in Tech History

After the massive popularity of Facebook, Google decides to try its hand at social networking and launches Google+ to replace its microblogging tool Google Buzz. But since it was just an invitation-only network (unlike Facebook), Google+ eventually flopped and was phased out.

July 2013: Google Announces Chromecast

Image taken from WIRED

The Chromecast wasn’t anything extraordinary: it simply offered a way for people to stream videos from their phone or computer to their TV. But as an affordable $35 device, it competed well against Amazon Fire and the Apple TV.

August 2015: Google’s Restructure & New Look

Image taken from Google

Google co-founder Larry Page decides to take a step back and restructure the giant conglomerate and fold it into a parent company called Alphabet Inc, where Page takes over as the CEO. In celebration of the company restructure, Google unveils its new logo.

May 2016: Launch of Google Assistant

Image taken from Android Police

Google may have been late to the virtual assistant party (it only launched two years after Amazon’s Alexa and five years after Apple’s Siri) but Google Assistant grew rapidly and proved to be a worthy competitor. Google enters the home assistant market with AI-powered Google home device.

October 2016: Meet Google Pixel

Image taken from TIME

Google launches the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones, which it describes as the “first phone made by Google inside and out.” The Pixel line turned into the gold standard for flagship Android phones.

February 2018: Alphabet Flexes its Dominance

Alphabet, Google’s parent company, reports topping $100 billion in annual sales for the first time in 20 years. The milestone is a testament to Google’s successful run over the past two decades.

October 2020: A Fresh, Unified Look

Image taken from TechCrunch

Google reimagines its G Suite and turns it into Google Workspace, unifying the visual look of all the tools and apps in its suite.

It’s been a long, fruitful run, Google. Thanks for helping us navigate the endless treasure trove of info online. Here’s to even better years ahead!