Google has become more than a household name as the search engine handles approximately 70% of all online requests. Of course, that’s not all Google is responsible for as they are also involved in cloud services, hardware, software and online payment solutions. While there probably aren’t too many people unfamiliar with Google, how did the company start? Who was responsible for creating this immensely powerful search engine?
It seems that today, Google is the digital equivalent to hundreds, if not thousands, of libraries, advisors and experts among others. There is no denying the company’s meteoric rise to the top and nothing says it more than having your brand name added as an official dictionary term. In addition, they’ve become the answer to almost any question as people simply say, “Just Google it”.
Where Did Google Come From?
Search engines, or internet portals as they were better known, have been around since the early days of the internet. Microsoft and Apple formed in the mid-1970s while IBM dates back to 1911. Google only started in 1998 which is considerably later compared to the current top tech leaders but, today, that doesn’t mean anything.
They may have been a little late to the party but the company quickly became the embodiment of what a true search engine should be. It didn’t take too long for them to be the primary source for finding nearly anything on the internet. At the same time, they set the stage as a leading force in search engine optimisation and it all started with Larry Page.
Who Is Larry Page?
Larry Page was a student at the University of Michigan who enrolled in Stanford University’s PhD programme for computer science. In fact, he actually wrote his doctoral thesis on the World Wide Web (WWW). When he wrote his thesis, the internet was nothing more than an idea from the world’s top computer scientists.
His thesis included an interesting question on whether you could use links between web pages to determine their importance. Larry Page theorized that developing an algorithm to automatically rank pages according to importance would make it possible. Anyone familiar with how the search engine works will realise that this is where it all began.
Developing The Google Search Engine
The web was still in the early stages but it fascinated Larry Page. He wanted to find a way to organise it better and used a system based on bibliometrics. It’s a statistical method used in the scientific community to organise the number of citations within a research paper.
Page realised that backlinks to other websites and web pages were merely paper citations but in a different form. However, to map out his theories, the math behind the project became too complex and he reached out to a fellow student, Sergey Brin.
In January 1996, they wrote a program for a search engine and called it Backrub. It was named after its ability to do backlink analysis. Realising that backlinks from more credible sources were more valuable than numbers, Page and Brin developed an algorithm called PageRank.
The Success Of BackRub and PageRank
PageRank would essentially prioritise sites within certain topics but it was more complicated. It determines a website’s relevance by taking into account the number of pages and the importance of the pages linking back to the original site.
The pair integrated their algorithm into a rudimentary search engine and set it to troll the web. After one year of crawling the World Wide Web, the results from the algorithm were far superior to any other search engine results.
Not only that, Page also realised that the results would improve even further if they fed more data into the algorithm. With more pages on the internet, there would be more links. Of course, that meant there would be more data on each website to establish validity and search relevance.
Development And Early Investments
After receiving impressive reviews, Page and Brin started working on developing Google. They were doing all the work from their dorm rooms and built a server network with cheap, used, and borrowed personal computers. They changed the name from BackRub to Google after the mathematical term “googol.”
Considering the early stages of the tech, there was no initial interest from anyone and the duo kept Google to themselves until they had a more refined product. This worked better than expected as, after some more development, Sun Microsystems co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim showed considerable interest.
He wrote a check for $100,000 made out to Google Inc. even though it wasn’t a legal entity yet. It didn’t take long though as Page and Brin incorporated on September 4, 1998, and with the initial funding, they managed to raise a further $900,000. Other angel investors included Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com.
Introducing The Beta Version
With enough funds in place, Google Inc. opened its first office in Menlo Park, California. They launched Google.com, a beta or test status search engine that answered 10,000 search queries every day. That’s not a lot compared to today’s standards but a considerable achievement in those early days. Google officially removed ‘beta’ from the title in September 1999.
Two years on, they filed for and received a patent for their PageRank technology, listing Larry Page as the inventor. At this stage, they had relocated to a larger office space nearby Palo Alto. In 2015, the global powerhouse restructured divisions and personnel under the conglomerate name, Alphabet.
Sergey Brin was named president of the new parent company while Larry Page is the CEO and Sundar Pichai took over Page’s position at Google. Alphabet and all of its subsidiaries rank among the top 10 most valuable companies in the world.
Google’s Acquisitions Then And Now
During Google’s rapid growth period, they introduced various products. This includes Gmail, Google Docs, Google Drive, Google Voice, Chrome web browser, YouTube and Blogger.com.
In recent years, they have ventured into different sectors with some examples such as:
- Nexus (smartphones)
- Android (mobile operating system)
- Pixel (mobile computer hardware)
- A smart speaker (Google Home)
- Broadband (Google Fi)
- Chromebooks (laptops),
- Stadia (gaming)
- Self-driving cars
Among other ventures, advertising revenue generated from search requests is still Google’s largest income stream. For more information on Google Ads, you should read the article, ‘9 Copywriting Tips To Power Your PPC Ads’
Did you know?
The total number of global internet users grew by 8.6% over the past twelve months. There were 350 million new users which gives a total of 4.437 billion as of April 2019. Combined, the number of global internet and social media users are incredible. Estimates suggest around 3.5 billion people are on social media where approximately 98% of them access social platforms on mobile devices (source: We Are Social).
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