Updated on October 2, 2023
On September 27, 2023, Google celebrated its 25th year of existence. The company has made a remarkable journey, evolving from a search engine built in a garage to a massive, all-pervasive company, holding the answers and giving us solutions to most of our queries. Today, for many of us, “Google” has become synonymous with “Internet” and “search.”
How did it all begin? 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 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.
The historical timeline of Google
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 are a few key milestones that mark Google’s incredible journey to date:
- September 1997: Domain google.com is registered
- September 1998: Google was officially founded
- August 1998: The first Google Doodle
- 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
- April 2007: Buys DoubleClick
- May 2007: Street View
- September 2008: Google Chrome
- September 2008: Releases Android OS
- January 2010: Nexus One
- May 2011: Google reaches 1 billion unique site visitors
- January 2014: Google sells Mobility, invests in Nest Lab
- August 2015: Announces restructuring as Alphabet Inc.
- September 2015: New logo
- April 2016: EU files antitrust complaint against Google
- June 2016: TPUs
- October 2016: Launches Google Pixel
- September 2017: Announces restructuring as Google LLC
- February 2018: BERT
- January 2021: Ubisoft and Take-Two bring games to Stadia
- June 2022: Adds Privacy Guide to Chrome
- March 2023: BARD
- September 27, 2023: 25 years of Google
From September 1997 to September 1998: The beginnings of Google
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 Backrubat first, then changed the name to Google. The name Google references the number 1 followed by 100 zeros and reflects Larry and Sergey’s mission to organize the world’s information and universally provide access to it.
Then, over the next few years, Google caught the attention of investors, receiving substantial funding in 1998, and Google Inc. was officially born. The domain name, however, had already been registered one year earlier, in 1997.
August, 1998: First Google Doodle
The first Google Doodle, created by co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, was inspired by the 1998 Burning Man Festival in the US and served as a server crash notification.
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’ complaints 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 good idea.
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 would question YouTube’s staying 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. And boy, was Google right!
April 2007: Buys DoubleClick
Google’s $3.1 billion purchase of DoubleClick facilitates expansion into display advertising beyond search results.
May 2007: Street View
Google improves its mapping tools by fitting cars with cameras to create Google Street View, providing street-level views of the world. However, this initiative raises privacy concerns.
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, 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 in growing 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.”
January 2010: Nexus One
Google’s Nexus One marked the company’s debut in selling mobile phones directly to consumers, wowing Android enthusiasts with its compact design, powerful camera, and revamped home screen. This phone was the result of a partnership between Google, HTC, and T-Mobile.
May 2011: Google reaches 1 billion unique site visitors
Google became the first website to welcome one billion visitors in a single month.
January 2014: Google sells Mobility, invests in Nest Lab
Google sells Motorola Mobility to Lenovo for $2.9 billion, secures patents from the transaction, and invests $3.2 billion in Nest Lab to enter home automation.
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.
April 2016: EU files antitrust complaint against Google
The EU’s antitrust complaint in April 2016 is just one episode in a series of legal actions taken against Google. Over the years, Google has been subject to various legal actions and investigations due to concerns about its market dominance and business practices.
In 2016, the European Union (EU) filed an antitrust complaint against Google, alleging that it favored its own services in search results. This was followed by the EU’s €2.4 billion fine in 2017 related to Google Shopping and a €4.1 billion fine in 2018 for Android-related antitrust violations. In the United States, investigations into Google’s dominance in advertising and search are being conducted by the Department of Justice and state attorneys general.
These actions are part of wider efforts to ensure fair competition in the tech industry and address concerns about the influence of major technology companies.
June 2016: TPUs
In June 2016, Google announced the introduction of TPUs, or Tensor Processing Units. These are AI accelerator application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) developed by Google specifically for accelerating neural network machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) workloads. TPUs have played a significant role in enhancing the performance of Google’s machine learning models and deep learning applications, contributing to advancements in AI-related tasks.
October 2016: Launches Google Pixel
In October 2016, Google launched Google Pixel, its own line of smartphones. This marked a significant step for Google, as it allowed the company to have more control over both the hardware and software of its mobile devices. These smartphones were known for their high-quality cameras, stock Android experience, and integration with Google’s services and AI features. The launch of the Google Pixel represented Google’s commitment to the mobile hardware market.
September 2017: Announces restructuring as Google LLC
In September 2017, Google announced a corporate restructuring, forming Google LLC to streamline its various businesses under Alphabet Inc. while maintaining a distinction between core operations and other ventures.
February 2018: BERT
In February 2018, Google introduced BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers), an open-source machine learning framework for natural language processing (NLP). BERT enhanced computer understanding of search queries and context, resulting in more precise and context-aware search results, representing a significant advancement in Google’s search capabilities.
January 2021: Ubisoft and Take-Two bring games to Stadia
In January 2021, Ubisoft and Take-Two Interactive partnered with Google to bring their video games to the Stadia cloud gaming platform. This collaboration expanded the game library available to Stadia users, offering a wider selection of gaming experiences on the platform.
June 2022: Adds Privacy Guide to Chrome
In June 2022, Google introduced a Privacy Guide within its Chrome web browser. This feature aimed to enhance user privacy by providing tools and information to help users better manage their online data and privacy settings while browsing the internet.
March 2023: BARD
In March, Google launched BARD, an AI-driven chatbot, in response to OpenAI’s ChatGPT. BARD’s stated objective is to enhance productivity, creativity, and curiosity while addressing concerns related to biases and misinformation. Google plans to integrate Bard with its consumer services such as Gmail, Docs, and YouTube, connecting it with their wide array of online products.
September 27, 2023: 25 years of Google
On September 27, 2023, Google celebrated a quarter-century of existence. The celebration date hasn’t always been September 27, since there were other milestone dates that marked the company’s beginnings: Google filed for incorporation and officially opened between September 4-7, 1998, and the domain “google.com” was registered on September 15, 1997.
Here’s how Google’s “birth” date shifted in the past:
- September 27, 2002 – Google’s first birthday doodle announced their 4th birthday
- September 8, 2003 – Google announced their 5th birthday
- September 7, 2004 – Google announced their 6th birthday
- September 26, 2005 – Google announced their 7th birthday
- September 27, 2006 – 2023 – Google has officially celebrated their birthday
Despite initial confusion, the company has settled on September 27th for the past 17 years as its official celebration date.
FAQ about the history of Google
Here are some answers to the questions people ask most frequently about Google and the company’s history.
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.
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.
Google has turned 25 on September 4, 2023. Google Inc. (the company) was born on September 4, 1998.
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 27 years old.
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.
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.
Google LLC is an American technology company headquartered in Mountain View, California.
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).
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”.
Since 1998, Google has expanded from an online search company to a global leader, with a share of around 83% of the global desktop search market, as of July 2023.
In its 25-year history, the company has grown massively, expanding its product range, dominating search, venturing into cloud computing and hardware, and investing in AI. We can say that Google successfully achieved its mission of organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful by providing billions of users worldwide with a potent search engine, an array of accessible and valuable tools, closing the digital divide, and safeguarding diverse information forms.
Google became famous by offering a superior search engine, but also by continuous innovation, global expansion, and dominance in online advertising. Around mid-1999, Google secured a $25 million venture capital investment while processing 500,000 daily queries. In 2000, it gained traction as Yahoo!’s search engine, handling 200 million daily searches by 2004. This growth surged, with Google managing three billion daily searches by 2011, reaching 8.5 billion searches per day in 2023. “To google” has become a verb for internet searching.
Google’s original name was “Backrub”. It was initially developed under this name by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were still Ph.D. students at Stanford University. However, the search engine was later renamed “Google” in 1997.
Google was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were Ph.D. students at Stanford University. They co-founded the company and held the initial ownership of the search engine.
Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Sundar Pichai hold the highest individual insider ownership stakes in Google, while Vanguard Group Inc., BlackRock Inc. (BLK), T. Rowe Price Associates Inc., and FMR LLC are the leading institutional shareholders.
Sundar Pichai currently serves as the CEO of Google, which is a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. On October 24, 2015, Sundar Pichai assumed the role of CEO at Google, succeeding Larry Page, who transitioned to the role of CEO at Alphabet.
Google has changed the world by revolutionizing access to information, facilitating global communication, and reshaping digital advertising, ultimately influencing how people learn, work, and connect online.
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 paid edition of Office Timeline 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.