The year was 1998, and 2 25-year olds were working out of their garage on something they thought had some promise. Their names, as you may be aware, were Sergey Brin and Larry Page. Their “promising-looking” project was Google, a new web indexing tool similar to AltaVista or HotBox.
While there were some already-established search engines available at that point, none of them were ubiquitous. Thus, Page and Brin surmised that they would be able to compete with their new product.
This new tool was capable of showing results from a massive 25 million(!) web pages, and they had a very colorful new logo and an exclamation point after their name (a la Yahoo!). This tool evolved over the years from meager beginnings into by far the largest search engine, and most used website, in the world.
Furthermore, Google as a company has expanded to produce and own several other technologies. YouTube, acquired by Google in 2006, and Android, the operating system that powers over 2 billion cell phones are but 2 great examples. Google was spun off into its own subsidiary of Alphabet Inc in 2015, but is still synonymous with the larger company to most people.
There is a cool easter egg on Google that occurs when you search “Google in 1998” on their website. It shows the search results formatted as they would have looked back during the beta days of Google. I found it fascinating, and quite nostalgic, to look at this and think back to those days. I still remember the first time I heard about Google, and how cool I thought it was.
Little did I know back then that I was looking at the foundation of what would soon become one of the largest companies in the world. Google now makes over $110 billion per year. Their focal points in terms of revenue remain advertising-related, primarily on their search engine results (for both Google.com and YouTube). They also offer the most widely-used email client, and have a significant market share in several more industries.
Over the years, Google has been considered (and prosecuted) as a monopoly by various countries, governments, and agencies. This has lead to a lot of legislation and legal action around their business interests. However, Google has managed to stay strong through it all.
Google is ubiquitous within many aspects of society, whether it be entertainment, information and news sharing, productivity and work, or even transportation. Their products have become the norm of everyday life, and are highly regarded by many as the best on offer.
As part of their 20th-anniversary celebration, Google has released a new Google Doodle commemorating the event. Furthermore, they will be releasing several videos and articles about their history from the point of view of several employees and teams. These will be available on YouTube on Google’s official channel.
It has been a strong 20 years, and surely Google will head into the next 20 years continuing to be at the forefront of technological innovation. We look forward to seeing what they have in store. Here’s to 20 more!