In honour of Google’s 14th birthday, our Curator of New Media, Tom Woolley, and I have compiled a list of 14 things you may not know about Google.
1. Google was originally called ‘Backrub’
Larry Page and Sergey Brinn, Google’s inventors, created a search engine called Backrub while studying at Stamford University. After a year or so, they decided it needed a new name so called it Google. Google is a play on the word ‘googol’—a mathematical term for the number 10 followed by 100 zeros.
2. Google was born in a garage
A far cry from the fancy Google offices today, their first office was in a garage at 232 Santa Margarita, Menlo Park, California.
3. Google’s slogan is ‘don’t be evil’
From the outset, the company’s mission statement was to ‘organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful’. However, its unofficial slogan is ‘don’t be evil’, which has guided Google‘s decision-making process to forego short term financial gain if it is not in the best interest of the user.
4. Google’s first tweet was in binary code
On 26 February 2009 Google sent their first ever tweet and it was in binary code—suitably geeky! It read ‘I’m feeling lucky’, which is also one of the options users can select when searching from the Google homepage.
5. Google ❤️ dogs
Google is a dog-loving company. Since April 1999 dogs have been a welcome part of Google daily life. Their first dog was called Yoshka and his job was to sit in the yard outside the garage and wait for the UPS man.
6. Google has its own chef
In November 1999 Google hired their first chef, Charlie Ayers. He won the job after a cook-off judged by 40 employees. Prior to this role he did the catering for the rock band The Grateful Dead.
7. ‘Google’ is now officially a verb
In 2002, ‘google’ was named the Most Useful Word of the Year by the American Dialect Society. By 2006, the verb ‘google’ had been added to the Oxford English Dictionary.
8. Google Earth has saved lives
In June 2005 Google Earth, a service which maps 3D buildings and terrains using satellites, was launched. Just 3 months later, Google Earth was used by rescuers to locate stranded victims after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.
9. The Google Doodle was launched in 1998
Since then, Google Doodle has marked major anniversaries and has recently branched out into interactive elements. The theme for the first UK Doodle 4 Google contest was ‘My Britain’. More than 15,000 children entered the contest; the winner was 13-year-old Katherine Chisnall with her Doodle Five Wonders of Britain.
10. YouTube hosts official royal TV
YouTube, the video-sharing site owned by Google, hosts The Royal Channel: The Official Channel of the British Monarchy. It was launched by the Queen herself at the end of 2007.
11. Google has made a music video for Radiohead
Google worked with the band Radiohead to produce the video for their song ‘House of Cards’. The video consists purely of data.
12. There’s a Google initiation routine
New employees are called ‘Nooglers’ and given a propeller beanie cap in Google colours to wear on their first Friday.
13. Google head offices are very laid-back
Google like to foster a creative atmosphere for their employees. They have ‘Fun Stuff Fridays’ where employees are encouraged to pursue their own interests. Their 2011 remodel of the London office included deck chairs in a coffee lounge, a boat containing a large Winnie-the-Pooh toy to host 1-to-1 meetings, and a music room loaded with guitars and electric drums for colleagues to jam!
14. Google Glass might be the next big thing
June 2012 saw the announcement of Google’s latest product: Google Glass. This is a pair of glasses which allows you to interact with a virtual world while on the move. You can take pictures, record videos and other amazing features without lifting a finger.
With all its quirky eccentricities, Google has become part of our everyday lives and the answer to many commonplace dilemmas. Google Street View is indispensable when moving house (or just wanting to look at your current one), Google Images is just the job to find your next hairstyle, and I would be lost a lot more without Google Maps giving me a nice big map and directions to my destination.
All this adds up to Google being so much more than a search engine. Google’s empire is vast and there are many more things to say, stories to tell, oddities to highlight. Do you have anything interesting to add to our list of 14 things you may not know about Google?
To find out more about Google and the rise of search engines, visit our internet gallery, Life Online.