A Brief History of Google

By Sonya Brucciani | Small Business

Google is now worth billions and has its own place within the Oxford English Dictionary as a verb, but it took two men with a big dream to turn a small idea into a reality that has made a significant contribution to how the world uses the internet. Larry Page and Sergey Brin were both PhD candidates when they met in 1996 at Stanford and came up with the concept for a search engine that they were going to name BackRub.

One year later, in 1997, they renamed it and on the 14th September 1997 was officially registered as a domain name. A man named Milton Sirotta was responsible for coming up with the term from which Google was derived (googol), and it refers to the number 1 with 100 zeros following it.

The main aim of both men was to organise all of the information that could possibly be gathered around the world and present it in the form of an index, and this is exactly what they did.

A Garage Called Home

When the team received its $100,000 cheque to begin developing this search engine in 1998, Page and Brin moved the operation to a garage in Palo Alto, but one year later, the company had grown considerably and this meant another move; this time to their very first offices within the same city.


Over the years millions of webmasters have tried their best to obtain a high PageRank, which is one of many indicators of the ‘authority’ and ‘link weight’ of any given website, however the term itself was only patented in September 2001 by the Google team. PageRank was an integral part of the core algorithm upon which the Google search engine operated, enabling it to ‘rank’ sites according to authority. It was in the same year that Larry Page, the namesake of PageRank, stepped down as CEO and Eric Schmidt took his place.

Gmail Emerges

The web-based email service that is now commonplace to Gmail fans was launched in 2004 and it quickly began to outrank the services being offered by companies such as Microsoft and Yahoo. The storage capabilities were set at 1 GB -  a storage capacity that was unheard of at the time. 2004 was also the year that Google Earth was launched which allowed the earth to be mapped to the desktop using satellite imagery.

Mapping the Moon and Mars

In 2005, Google joined up with NASA to produce Google Moon and Google Mars in which two applications allowed individuals to navigate both entities from the comfort of their own computers. The project was brought to fruition after a 1 million sq ft development centre was built within the Ames Research Centre.

Google Video

In 2006, Google Video was introduced to the public, and users were able to search for videos, rather than be restricted to content, through the search engine. This is the same year that the company acquired YouTube, which has in a very real sense become a massively popular ‘alternative’ search engine in its own right. In addition, the very popular Google Docs service was launched.

Controlling the Market Share

Google is estimated to have around 54% of the market share for search engines with Yahoo! as it’s closest rival. The search engine gets more than 1 billion search requests each day, and with the incorporation of Google Ads, every click makes the company money. The business is now a household name, and there is no telling where or how they plan on expanding in the future; after all, for Google, the sky is no longer the limit.

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