Updated on July 19, 2022
Google is nearly a quarter century old: 24 years of existence on September 4, 2022. The company has come a long way; from a search engine built in a garage to a massive, all-pervasive company, holding and giving us the answers and solutions to most of our queries. Today, most of us see “Google” as a synonym for “Internet” and “search”.
Back in 1996, two Stanford Ph.D. students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, gave people what they needed: a Backrub! That’s the name of the grandfather (or “grandmother” …) of what we know now as Google search engine. Larry and Sergey innovated on the relevance of search results, using links “to determine the importance of individual pages on the World Wide Web”.
We’ve put together a short version of the history of Google in the form of a visual timeline, marking some of the major milestones in the history of the Internet giant.
History of Google: a timeline
In 1998, Google Inc. was officially born. Two brilliant guys unraveled the secret to success without chasing it: be relevant and useful. Little by little, growing and innovating in every aspect that can improve people’s lives, mostly resourceful, and controversial at times, but always unconventional, Google has been carrying on steadily with its mission: to organize the world’s information, making it universally accessible.
Here’s a list of the key milestones in the history of Google:
- September 1998: Google was officially founded
- October 2000: Google AdWords
- July 2001: Launches Google Image Search
- April 2004: Announces Gmail
- February 2005: Launches Google Maps
- September 2005: Research partnership with NASA
- November 2006: Google buys YouTube
- September 2008: Google Chrome
- September 2008: Releases Android OS
- August 2015: Announces restructuring as Alphabet Inc.
- September 2015: New logo
September 1998: Google was officially founded
Back in ‘95-’96 Larry Page and Sergey Brin met as students at Stanford University and built a search engine that brought in the concept of relevance of search results. It relayed on links to determine the importance of pages on the World Wide Web. They called this search engine Backrub at first, then changed the name to Google.
Over the next few years, Google caught the attention of investors, so, in 1998 it received substantial funding and Google Inc. was officially born.
October 2000: Google AdWords
October 23, 2000 is the birth date of Google AdWords, the first self-serve online advertising platform. Google AdWords initially worked on a pay-per-impression basis. Ads were shown only on the right-hand side of the search results based solely on ad auction: the higher the bid, the higher the position on the page. Users would sign up on a self-serve basis and set how much they were willing to pay per thousand impressions (or times the ad showed).
July 2001: Launches Google Image Search
Google Image Search was launched on July 12, 2001 answering users’ search for pictures of the Versace gown that Jennifer Lopez wore to the Grammy Awards in February 2000. Google Image Search later became Google Images and is a Google search engine that can be used to search the internet for images. The reverse image search functionality was added in 2011.
April 2004: Announces Gmail
Google Inc. announced on April 1, 2004 that they are testing a free search-based webmail product called Gmail. The webmail service was created in response to Google users’ complaining about the poor quality of existing email services from Yahoo and MSN.
Gmail brought in storage space, speed and efficiency: the new service offered more than 100 times what most other free webmail services offered (storage capacity of up to eight billion bits of information, the equivalent of 500,000 pages of email), enabled people to quickly search every email they’ve ever sent or received, eliminated the need to file messages into folders, and automatically organized emails by topic into conversation threads that show messages in context.
When they made the announcement, on April 1, many people thought it was a hoax. Thankfully, it wasn’t, and clearly, Gmail was a success.
February 2005: Launches Google Maps
On Feb 8, 2005, Google Maps was launched as a solution to help people “get from point A to point B”, in Google’s words. Google Maps was and still is a useful tool to help people get around and find directions. This launch was followed by a lot of capabilities added along the way, such as Google Earth, Google Trip Planner, real-time traffic news, Street View, Navigation, Trekker and so many other exciting features that were and are still making people’s lives easier.
September 2005: Research partnership with NASA
In 2005, Google joined forces with US space agency NASA to conduct research and development in an effort to harness new technology that could boost the space program.
November 2006: Buys YouTube
Google purchased online video sensation YouTube. At the time, some questioned YouTube’s enduring power, but Google had the vision that the video-sharing site would increase in popularity and would be a highly lucrative marketing hub, as the trend seemed to show more and more viewers and advertisers migrating from television to the Internet. Apparently, Google was right.
September 2008: Google Chrome
On September 2, 2008, Google Inc. launched Google Chrome, a new open source browser and stated that the browser was intended to create “a better web experience for users around the world”. Since launch, it has been available in beta in more than 40 languages. Google stated about Chrome that “at its core is a multi-process platform that helps provide users with enhanced stability and security.”
September 2008: Releases Android OS
Android is the most popular mobile operating system (OS), with more than 2.5 billion active devices. It has a friendly and handy user interface and is based on a modified version of the Linux kernel and other open-source software.
Android was first designed for digital cameras, back in 2003. Since the camera market was starting to slow down, the Android switched to the smartphone sector, made the required changes to the OS, and Android as we know it was born. Acquired by Google in July 2005, they succeeded to grow their market more and more each year. Today, Android powers more than 80% of all active smartphones.
The first commercially available smartphone running Android was HTC Dream, launched on September 23, 2008. In an official statement, Google said: “Since these devices make our lives so sweet, each Android version is named after a dessert.”
August 2015: Announces restructuring as Alphabet Inc.
Google was restructured in 2015 under a new holding company, Alphabet, a collection of companies, to help protect its core brand, to allow independent management of activities that aren’t very related, and to give greater independence for its riskier investments (for example, Life Sciences, working on the glucose-sensing contact lens or Calico, focused on human longevity). Or, in Larry Page’s words, “Alphabet is about businesses prospering through strong leaders and independence.”
September 2015: New logo
Google changed their logo in 2015 to reflect changing times: users’ interaction with the Google products was more and more diverse, people started to use Google on many different platforms, apps and devices. The new logo looked well on all kinds of devices, even on the tiniest screens.
FAQ about the history of Google
Here are some answers to the questions people ask most frequently about Google and the company’s history.
Who is the owner of Google?
Alphabet Inc. is a holding company (parent) of Google LLC, formerly Google Inc. Thus, Google LLC is a subsidiary of Alphabet.
In terms of shareholders, if we think of shares held through direct ownership, the top individual insider shareholders of Google are Larry Page, Sergey Brin (the two founders) and Sundar Pichai, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Alphabet Inc.
The top institutional shareholders are Vanguard Group Inc., BlackRock Inc., T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc. and FMR LLC.
What is Google?
Google is most commonly known as an internet search engine that started development in 1996 by two Stanford PhD students, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, who later founded Google LLC, an American technology company headquartered in Mountain View, California.
How old is Google?
If we think of Google as a company, Google Inc. was born on September 4, 1998. This means Google is 24 years old on September 4, 2022.
If we think of Google as a search engine, its development started in 1996, and it was originally named Backrub. Later, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, its creators, changed its name to Google. So, we can say that the search engine Google is 26 years old.
When was Google created?
The search engine Google started development in 1996, and it was originally named Backrub, which later became Google, a play on the term “googol”. Google Inc. was officially founded on September 4, 1998 to market Google Search.
What does Google mean?
The name Google is a creative spelling of googol, the mathematical expression for the number 1 followed by 100 zeros. The term googol was coined back in 1930s, and is attributed to Milton Sirotta, the 9-year-old nephew of American mathematician Edward Kasner.
Also, google has become a verb, meaning “to use the Google search engine to search for information about someone or something on the internet”. Today, the meaning of the term google has widened even more and is often used as “to look up information online” using any search engine.
Where is Google based?
Google LLC is an American technology company headquartered in Mountain View, California.
What is the meaning of Google?
If we think of Google as a search engine, its development started in 1996, when it was originally named Backrub. Later, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, its creators, changed its name to Google, which is inspired from the term googol (a googol is the mathematical expression for the number 1 followed by 100 zeros).
Why is Google called Google?
In 1996, when it started development, the search engine Google was originally named Backrub. Later, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, its creators, changed the name to Google, which is inspired from the term googol. In Google’s words, the name was a play on the mathematical expression for the number 1 followed by 100 zeros and would evoke how much data was being indexed, reflecting the company’s mission “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”.
About the History of Google timeline
The Google chronology was designed in PowerPoint using Office Timeline, a simple add-in that allows users to quickly create eye-catching timelines, Gantt charts and other similar graphics.
To edit the visual or build your own, download the free edition, which includes all the powerful features you need to create and update a timeline in minutes.
To create more complex visuals, with swimlanes and multiple time scales, you can try the Pro+ Edition free of charge for 14 days, which unlocks a large range of customization options and time-saving features. You can download the Google History Timeline for PowerPoint for free and use it for your own purposes. Or you can or you can manually modify it to include other milestones.