No technology company is arguably more responsible for shaping the modern internet, and modern life, than Google. The company that started as a novel search engine now manages eight products with more than 1 billion users each. Many of those people use Google software to search the repository of human knowledge, communicate, perform work, consume media, and maneuver the endlessly vast internet in 2018. On September 4, Google turned 20 years old, steadily rising to join Apple and Amazon in the $1 trillion market valuation,some major moments in Google’s past are highlighted.
August, 1996: Larry Page and Sergey Brin launched Google
Initially known as BackRub, Google began as a research project of Larry Page, who enrolled in Stanford’s computer science graduate program in 1995. There, he met fellow CS student Sergey Brin. The two stayed in touch as Page began looking into the behavior of linking on the World Wide Web. Page conceived a system that would crawl the internet to determine which pages were linking to other pages, positing that it could lead to the creation of a new kind of search engine. Together with Brin’s math expertise, the duo created the PageRank algorithm, named after Larry, to rank the search results based on linking behavior. The two technologies formed the foundation for the world’s most powerful search engine of its time, which launched on Stanford’s private network in August 1996.
September 4, 1998: Incorporated with $100,000
Page and Brin renamed their company after the mathematical term googol (a one followed by 100 zeroes). The duo relocated to the garage of Susan Wojcicki, who would later become CEO of YouTube in Menlo Park, California. They incorporated the company as Google, with a $100,000 investment from Sun Microsystems co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim.
April 1, 2004: Gmail launched
In 2001, Google employee Paul Buchheit started work on an email product designed to address the company’s increasing internal communications and storage needs. Buchheit, having worked on early web-based email in the ‘90s, decided to build a faster, more responsive client using Ajax (then a nascent set of web development techniques that would allow the product to receive information from a server without having to reload the entire page). On April 1, 2004, Gmail launched to the public with 1GB of storage and advanced search capabilities, dwarfing the limitations imposed by popular competing email products of the time, many of which offered just a few megabytes of storage.
August 19, 2004: Google went public
February 8, 2005: Google Maps launched
October 9, 2006: Google acquired Youtube
September 2, 2008: Google launched the Chrome Browser
September 23, 2008: Android launched on the T-Mobile G1 / Htc Dream
January 5, 2010: Nexus One
October 2010: Google starts working on Self-Driving Cars
June 15, 2011: Chrome Os
June 28, 2011: Google+
August 15, 2011: Google bought Motorola Mobility
June 2012: The Introduction of Google Glass with A Skydiving Demo
July 24, 2013: Google Chromecast announced
August 10, 2015: Google restructured as Alphabet Inc.
May 18, 2016: Google Assistant
October 2016: Google Solidified hardware launch with Pixel, Google Home
(with inputs from The Verge)