Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the search engine’s 21st birthday.
On this day in 1998, Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page, two Ph.D. students from Stanford, came up with the idea of launching a prototype of a “large-scale search engine”.
“We chose our systems name, Google, because it is a common spelling of googol [10 to the power of 100, or 1 followed by 100 zeroes] and fits well with our goal of building very large-scale search engines,” they wrote in their paper.
Their mission statement, from the outset, was “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”, and its unofficial slogan is “Don’t be evil”.
Google, operating today in over 100 languages, is considered one of the Big Four technology companies, alongside Amazon, Apple and Facebook. Now, the verb “google” has been added to the Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary, meaning “to use the Google search engine to obtain information on the Internet.”
Google Doodles, too, have been part of the company since its inception. The very first Doodle was in honour of the Burning Man Festival of 1998. It was designed by Page and Brin themselves to notify users of their absence in case the servers crashed. Subsequent ones were designed by an outside contractor, until the founders asked then-intern Dennis Hwang to design a logo for Bastille Day in 2000. From then on, Doodles have been organised and created by a team of employees termed “Doodlers”.
As of October 2016, Google operates 70 offices in more than 40 countries. Alexa, a commercial web traffic monitoring company, lists Google.com as the most visited website in the world. Several other Google services also figure in the top 100 most visited websites, including YouTube and Blogger.
Google has often come under fire over issues of aggressive tax avoidance, search neutrality, copyright, censorship of search results and content, and privacy.
However, it continues to answer trillions of search queries each year.