History of Google

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Evolution Of Google Search

The origins of Google are well documented. Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two computer science graduate students, met at Stanford in 1995 and created what would become one of the most useful inventions of all-time — a highly usable and accurate search engine. Let’s examine the visual history of the platform.

BackRub (1996)

Their effort started off as a project hosted on Stanford servers called BackRub, so named since the system checked back-links to determine a site’s credibility. Within about a year, it quickly grew popular enough to warrant its own hosting and infrastructure outside of Stanford. An early project paper from 1997 is an interesting read and boldly predicted that “top search engines will handle hundreds of millions of queries per day by the year 2000.” There aren’t many screenshots of BackRub. If you have more, please contact us to help document this.

Early Stage Google (1997)

Google.com was registered on September 15th, 1997, and work began to port things over from BackRub to the new domain. Google the company did not yet exist, but the official domain name and very early branding allowed them to construct the first versions of Google as we know it today.

Logo and Homepage Progress (1998)

Google’s branding began to take form, progressing from the wacky older logo above (and others) into a design created by Sergey Brin in the open source image editor GIMP. This logo showcased the hallmark primary color scheme still very much in use today. But naturally, the exclamation point at the end sticks out like a sore thumb. It seems trite now, but surely Google at the time was inspired by their fellow Bay area internet pioneers at Yahoo!. In addition, the “I’m feeling lucky” button is added, which automatically redirects the user’s browser to the first search result when pressed. Though the button still exists, it’s essentially just for show with the transition to Google Instant in 2010.

First Google Doodle (1998)

Google’s excellent corporate history page documents the first Google “doodle” — a playful, decorative version of the now iconic logo — as an homage to the Burning Man festival which the founders were attending at the time. Larry, Sergey, and future CEO Eric Schmidt had been known to attend Burning Man on multiple occasions. Google maintains an authoritative, comprehensive site for its Google doodle art, with over 1,000 doodles creates to date for Google domains around the world.

Transitioning to a Simple Search Page (1999)

Google grew quite a bit in 1999, moving from a homepage with as many as X links into a true focus on search box without the cruft. Google’s intense focus on search utility without expanding to full portal status was opposite of the norm at the time.

Ruth Kedar Logo Redesign (1999)

Google transitioned to the modern foundation of the logo based on the Catull font on May 31, 1999. Ruth Kedar was hired by the founders to create a simple, playful, approachable design. In an interview with Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Kedar stated that “from the outset, it was clear to us that the name of company had to stand at the center of the logo. It must be remembered that at the time, many people were afraid to use the Internet, and it was important to broadcast something user-friendly both on the home page and in the logo. Something simple, that you didn’t need to be scared of, something catchy and full of life.”

Hiring, Additional Languages, and First April Fool's Day Joke (2000)

Google's homepage underwent significant changes in the year 2000. The company's focus on hiring was evident with the addition of a "Jobs@Google" link in the top right of the screen. The area underneath the search box also became a more centralized area for marketing and news messages. And finally, Google truly became a global presence with the addition of 10 languages other than English. Note the world map behind the Google logo. In what would become a tradition, Google embraced April Fool's Day with a prank homepage, it's first ever.

Ads Launched (2000)

TODO http://www.advia.com.au/adwords/the-evolution-of-google-adwords


Google on September 11, 2001

On the day of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City, Google for the first time used the homepage as a way to disseminate information in the time of crisis. Prominent headlines linked to the Washington Post and the cached version of CNN.com. Google would later expand its usefulness in emergencies with the Person Finder feature for areas hit by tsunamis, earthquakes, and other disasters.

New Features (2001)

Google added the number of web pages in its search index to the homepage, a number that steadily grew over time until it was removed in 2006. A tabbed interface was introduced on top of the search bar to showcase the ability to search the web, images, groups, or directories.

Progress and Froogle Launch (2002)

They made progress in 2002, with tabs at the top representing additional search options. The playfully-named product search shopping destination Froogle was launched in December 2002.

New Features (2003)

A lot of stuff happened in 2003. Google launched a mobile WAP site, which will be explored in another future post.

More New Features (2004)

Continued evolution of Google Search.

You Guessed it, More New Features (2005)

In 2005, the beloved Google maps was launched.

Personalized Google Homepage/iGoogle (2005)

Google Personalized homepage, later known as iGoogle, lauched in May 2005. In 2007 it got highly creative themes, many of which changed throughout the day. The feature was later shut down in November 2013.

Some New Add-ons (2006)

Again, not anything big, but Google did some good progress in 2006.

Personalized Google Update (2007)

Google upgraded their then-popular iGoogle with new background temples and other things. It was hard to find pictures, so we only have a couple.

Universal Search (2007)

Universal search combined the many separate search indexes, such as Books, News, Images, Videos, and patents.

Google Suggest (2008)

Google suggest testing in labs back in 2004, but launched to the masses in August 2008. Here is a great article from AllThingsD on the background of Suggest and a profile of it’s creator, Kevin Gibbs.

Rich Snippets (2009)

Homepage Redesign, New Logo, and Sidebar (2010)

In 2010, there was a slight homepage redesign, a new logo (looking nearly exactly the same as it was before, pretty much only the shadow changed) and a sidebar.

New Updates (2011)

Homepage Progress (2012)

Google edited the homepage and made some progress in 2012.

New Google Logo (August 2015)

A new google logo was added in August 2015.

And the rest is history!