Surprisingly, Google started off really simple. Its original premise was to be a super straightforward, stripped-down search engine. The company first became famous for delivering 10 highly accurate blue links on a plain white screen. Back in the day, it used to have an “I’m Feeling Lucky” option that would take you straight to a web page.
Since then, as they became increasingly ambitious, so did its search results. It’s very rare in this day and age to only have 10 links because the search results have got more and more bloated over time. Google has taken the world by storm on social networking, mobile phones, mapping, and TV/video and its search results are growing evermore loaded.
Here’s the run-through of its evolution over the years.
1998: The Launch
The website was first Launched in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin- two Stanford University students in a garage rented in the Northern California city of Menlo Park. The name is a play on the mathematical term “googol”, which refers to the number one followed by 100 zeros. Google reportedly ran for a while on computer screens at Stanford, where a version of the search engine had once been tested.
By the end of 1998, they had a whopping index of about 60 million pages. The homepage was still marked as “Beta” but after a rave review in Salon.com, they were praised for being more technologically innovative than the overload portal sites like Yahoo.com and MSN.com (which at the time were seen as the “future of the web”).
Early in 1999, Brin and Page decided to try and sell Google to Excite and offered to sell it for 1 million dollars. He rejected the offer even when page and Brin bartered down to 750,000 but the CEO of Excite still rejected it.
In March 1999, The company moved into offices at 165 University Avenue in Palo Alto, home to several other noted Silicon Valley technology startups. The company leased a complex of buildings in Mountain View at 1600 Amphitheater Parkway from Silicon Graphics in 2003. The company has remained at the location ever since.
By 2004 they had grown massively, Google employee Paul Buchheit started work on an email product designed to address the company’s increasing internal communications and increasing internal communications and storage needs. On April 1st they presented the public with Gmail with 1 GB of storage and advanced search capabilities, dwarfing the limitations imposed by popular competing email products at the time.
In February 2005, Google Maps launched. The web-only renders provide step-by-step directions and zoomable maps with a smattering of businesses like hotels available to search. It wouldn’t be until 2009 when Google would roll out turn-by-turn GPS navigation for Maps on smartphones that things got really useful, but it wasn’t very much fun for incumbents like TomTom and Garmin.
In 2008, Google hired several Mozilla Firefox developers, and together they made Chrome for Windows, which later came to other operating systems too. It was still a Beta version but it already had sandboxed tabs for faster and more stable browsing. Over the course of four short years, Google’s browser had grown significantly more popular than Firefox. Now, Google Chrome is the World’s most dominant browser, with around 60% percent usage worldwide.
in 2010, they discovered a very sophisticated phishing attack in China on its infrastructure aimed at extracting the email addresses and personal info of Chinese human rights activists. The attack prompted Google to change how they operated in the country, soon after, Beijing banned Google from China.
No technology company is arguably more responsible for shaping the modern internet and even modern life than Google. The company that once started off as a novel engine now manages eight products with 1 billion users each. Many of those people use Google software to search the repository of human knowledge, communicate, perform work tasks and consume media since 2018. Google is one of the most influential companies in history.
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