There is a “googol” of reasons why Google is the largest online search engine. Indexing billions of Web pages, Google allows users to conduct research, view images, watch videos, read books, send emails and perform countless other tasks. But, how did this gargantuan enterprise come about?
“It began with an argument,” John Battelle said in his online article, “The Birth of Google.” According to the article, the founders of this online prodigy did not take an immediate liking to one another when they first met at Stanford University in 1995. From the start, Larry Page and Sergey Brin constantly butted heads.
“We both found each other obnoxious,” Brin said in an interview. “He (Larry) had really strong opinions about things, and I guess I did, too.”
However, the two eventually reconciled their differences in order to pursue a common ambition and co-founded the expansive Google search engine.
Page’s idea for Google came from the research he conducted while completing his graduate dissertation project. Rather than following links from one page to another, Page’s idea was to create a search engine with the ability to trace backward, discover what websites linked to others and rank websites by importance.
“The needle that threads these efforts together is citation,” Page said. “The practice of pointing to other people’s work in order to build up your own.”
This system would take into consideration how many citations each page had, how many other pages cited them and the “perceived importance” of those citations. Page put his plan into action in 1996 with a project he called “BackRub.”
Seeking Internet investors for BackRub, Page and Brin initially had little success in their efforts to spread the word of their promising and innovative new venture. According to Matt Jacks in his article “The History of Google-Searching the World,” David Filo, founder of Yahoo!, encouraged the two to start their own company and give up their search for a business partner.
Taking his advice, Page and Brin launched plans for the commencement of the Google search engine. This bizarre name came about from a misspelling of the word “googol” which stands for the number 1 followed by 100 zeros. The name “Google” became representative of the countless opportunities this search engine would offer Internet users.
After the idea for Google was underway, Page and Brin needed to find a headquarters to promote their rising enterprise. This initially came to no more than a friend’s garage in Menlo Park. However humble the beginnings, the flourishing search engine showed rapid and substantial progress.
In a span of six months, Google trafficked 500,000 searches daily. By September 1998, Google was ranked in the Top 100 Web Sites and Search Engines globally. Page and Brin then began recruiting investors and commercial sign-ups that brought in millions of dollars for the website.
This road to success was not all fun and games, but Page and Brin made it a priority to maintain and promote a relaxed, informal atmosphere among their employees.
“Impromptu games of roller-hockey would break out in the car park, the offices were kept free of dividing walls to the work cubicles in order to allow an openness and corporate togetherness that was free of an ‘in your face’ hierarchical structure,” Jacks said.
From their friend’s garage to the “Googleplex,” Google has evolved into a technological think tank for some of the most inventive minds in the world.
Despite starting off as a graduate students’ experimental dissertation project, Google has come a long way in a relatively short time and shows no signs of slowing down. For now, users can only wonder what will be Google’s next innovative venture.