A little Google history from the Internet Archive


I first heard about Google in June, 1999. But Google was actually up and running early the previous year.  Check out this Google Friends Newsletter for May 18, 1998 (originally a Yahoo group!) in which “Larry and Sergey” wrote:

Google has now been up for over a month with the current database and we would like to hear back from you. How do you like the search results? What do you think of the new logo and formatting? Do the new features work for you?  (Read more of these early messages in the Google Friends Archive.)

Little did these two young guys know that ten years later they would be billionnaires and that “Googling” would be an activity shared daily by hundreds of million people!

Check out this paper by two PhD candidates:
The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine by Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page, Computer Science Department, Stanford University
In this paper, we present Google, a prototype of a large-scale search engine which makes heavy use of the structure present in hypertext. Google is designed to crawl and index the Web efficiently and produce much more satisfying search results than existing systems. The prototype with a full text and hyperlink database of at least 24 million pages is available at http://google.stanford.edu/

The screen shot at the top of this page is from the November 11, 1998 entry in the list of Google pages archived by the Internet Archive. It’s fascinating to browse through these archived pages and see how Google has developed through the years.

Below is a screen shot from the December 2, 1998 page; click on the image to see the whole shot. (Already the trademark I’m feeling lucky button was there.)


Read the description of the company from that date, and keep in mind where Google is today!

The Company
Google Inc. was founded in 1998 by Sergey Brin and Larry Page to make it easier to find high-quality information on the web. The company is based on three years of research in web search and data mining done by the founders in the Stanford University Computer Science Department. Google Inc.’s headquarters are located in scenic downtown Palo Alto, California.  Google Inc. is not at present a publicly traded company, and we are currently unable to speculate on whether or when our privately-held status might change.

The Name
10^100 (a gigantic number) is a googol, but we liked the spelling “Google” better. We picked the name “Google” because our goal is to make huge quantities of information available to everyone. And it sounds cool and has only six letters.

More highlights:
In December 2000 Google added the Advanced Search and the Google Web Directory.
On September 13, 2001, Google offered condolences.
In December 2004 Google was still including numbers of pages searched: Searching 8,058,044,651 web pages

I always look forward to the images that mark special occasions. Here is Google’s tribute to February 29, 2008:


Check out the earliest Google logos/stickers.  Included is BackRub, a pre-Google search engine on which Larry and Sergey collaborated in 1996.

See also A Google Scholar PrimerA Google Primer; Guess-the-Google; Reaction to Googling for a diagnosis, a recent BMJ study