Google is celebrating its 12th birthday this September 27th . Here is a timeline of the search giant’s rise and rise from a garage in Silicon Valley to stratospheric success.
Google doodle showing picture of a cake by Wayne Thiebaud, to celebrate Google’s 12th birthday Photo: VAGA NY/GOOGLE
Summer 1995 Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin meet at Stanford, when the 23-year-old Brin was assigned to show 24-year-old Page around the campus. They are said not to have hit it off, but Page joins the university as a computer science graduate student.
January 1996 Page and Brin, now both computer science graduate students, begin collaborating on a search engine called BackRub which operates on Stanford servers for more than a year, eventually taking up too much bandwidth.
September 1997 Google.com is registered as a domain after the pair decide BackRub needs to be rebranded. The new name is a play on the word “googol,” a mathematical term for the number represented by the numeral 1 followed by 100 zeros. It is an early hint at their mission to organise a seemingly infinite amount of information on the web.
November 1997 The pair publish an early academic paper setting out Google’s aims and specifications. It is called The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine.
August 1998 Andy Bechtolsheim, co-founder of the erstwhile computer firm Sun Microsystems, becomes the first investor in Google when he writes a cheque for $100,000 to an entity that does not ye exist – a company called Google Inc.
September 1998 Google sets up its first office in the garage of Susan Wojcicki, now the company’s vice president of product management, at 232 Santa Margarita, Menlo Park in Silicon Valley.
Google files for incorporation in California. Shortly afterwards, Brin and Page open a bank account in the newly established company’s name and deposit Bechtolsheim’s cheque.
Craig Silverstein, a fellow computer science graduate student at Stanford, is hired as Google’s first employee.
December 1998 PC Magazine reports that Google “has an uncanny knack for returning extremely relevant results” and recognises it as the search engine of choice in the Top 100 Web Sites for 1998.
February 1999 Google finally outgrows its garage office and moves to a new headquarters at 165 University Avenue in Palo Alto. By now, the company has eight employees. The first snack to be offered in Google’s offices – which become famous for their lavish cuisine – is Swedish Fish.
March 1999 The first-ever company ski trip takes place when staff pile into a van and head for Tahoe, California. The “winter trip” has since become an annual tradition.
May 1999 Omid Kordestani becomes the first non-engineering employee when joins as employee number 11 to run the company’s sales division. In 2010, he remains a senior advisor to the CEO and founders.
June 1999 John Doerr and Michael Moritz join the board. The company secures its first major investment from venture capital firms when it receives $25 million from Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins.
The funding is announced in the company’s first press release, which quotes Moritz describing “Googlers” as “people who use Google” – the first hint that “to google” will pass into the lexicon as a verb.
August 1999 Google moves yet again, this time into its first Mountain View offices. The building is a few miles south of Stanford University, and north of the older towns of Silicon Valley: Sunnyvale, Santa Clara and San Jose.
November 1999 Charlie Ayers joins as Google’s first chef – continuing the emerging tradition of fine dining at work. He wins the job in a cook-off judged by the company’s 40 employees. His previous claim to fame is catering for the band Grateful Dead.
Ayers instigates Seafood Friday – serving a smorgasbord of seafood from oysters to lobster on the final day of every working week at Charlie’s Café in the Mountain View office.
Google adds the Uncle Sam function, which restricts a search to US government documents.
April 2000 Google’s first April Fool’s hoax comes with the announcement of MentalPlex – a function which reads your mind as you visualise the search results you want.
May 2000 The first 10 foreign language versions of Google are released in French, German, Italian, Swedish, Finnish, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Norwegian and Danish.
Google wins its first Webby Awards for Technical Achievement (voted by judges) and Peoples’ Voice (voted by users).
September 2000 The search engine is launched in Japanese and Korean as well as Chinese – beginning a fraught relationship between Google and China.
October 2000 Google AdWords launches with 350 customers. The programme allows companies to market their services by allowing them to buy the most popular and relevant search terms.
December 2000 Google Toolbar is released – a browser plug-in that allows users to search without visiting the Google homepage.
February 2001 Google’s first public acquisition is Deja.com’s Usenet Discussion Service: an archive of 500 million Usenet discussions dating back to 1995. The company adds search and browse features and launches it as Google Groups.
March 2001 Eric Schmidt, a former director of Apple, is named chairman of the board of directors. The search engine is now available in 26 languages. The Google logo is centred on the page.
July 2001 Google Image Search launches, offering access to 250 million images.
August 2001 Google opens its first international office, in Tokyo. Eric Schmidt becomes CEO, while Page and Brin are named presidents of products and technology respectively.
October 2001 The search engine makes its first foray into South America in a partnership with Universo Online (UOL) that makes Google the major search service for millions of Latin Americans.
December 2001 Google’s index size grows to three billion web pages.
February 2002 AdWords is overhauled and begins to be charged per click.
April 1 2002 Google announces that pigeons power its search results.
May 2002 Google announces a major partnership with AOL to offer Google search and sponsored links to 34 million customers using CompuServe, Netscape and AOL.com.
Google Labs is launched, allowing users to try out beta technologies fresh from the company’s research and development team.
September 2002 Google News launches with 4000 news sources. The service grew out of the 20 per cent initiative, by which engineers are encouraged to spend 20 per cent of their time working on something that is not their main project. Google Mail also grew out of this practice.
October 2002 Google opens its first first Australian office in Sydney.
January 2003 The American Dialect Society recognises “google” as the “most useful” Word of the Year for 2002.
April 2003 The company launches its in-kind advertising programme for non-profit organisations, Google Grants.
December 2003 Google Print (which later becomes Google Book Search) is launched, indexing small excerpts from books to appear in search results. The company’s headcount has reached 1,628.
February 2004 Page is inducted into the National Academy of Engineering.
Google’s search index reaches six billion items, including 4.28 billion web pages and 880 million images.
March 2004 The company moves to its new “Googleplex” at 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway in Mountain View – providing a campus environment for its 800 plus US employees.
“Microkitchens” in every Google office are filled with snacks and often an espresso machine. Page and Brin made it a “rule” that no staff member should have to walk more than 100 feet for food.
April 2004 Google files with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, which governs the financial dealings of public companies, for an Initial Public Offering in order to be able to sell shares on the stock market.
The Official Google Blog goes live.
August 2004 Google’s Initial Public Offering of 19,605,052 shares takes place on Wall Street, opening at $85 per share.
September 2004 Google services for Norway and Kenya become the 102nd and 103rd Google domains. The list eventually grows to more than 150.
October 2004 The search engine opens its European HQ in Dublin,named Fellows by the Marconi Society, which recognises “lasting scientific contributions to human progress in the field of communications science and the Internet”. Ireland, as well as engineering offices Bangalore and Hyderabad, India. Page and Brin are
The company acquires Keyhole, a digital mapping company whose technology will later become Google Earth. Google SMS launches, allowing users to send text search queries to GOOGL or 466453 from their mobiles. Google Desktop Search is also introduced, allowing users to search for files stored on their own hard drives using Google technology.
November 2004 Google’s search index eaches eight billion. The company’s headcount is now 3,021.
December 2004 The Google Print Programme (now Google Book Search) expands through digital scanning partnerships with the libraries of Harvard, Stanford, University of Michigan and Oxford University plus the New York Public Library.
April 1 2005 Google announces magical beverage, Google Gulp, that makes its imbibers more intelligent and therefore better able to use search results properly. Google Maps adds satellite views and directions, while Google Local goes mobile and includes SMS driving directions.
My Search History launches in Labs, allowing users to view all the web pages they have visited and Google searches they have made over time.
May 2005 Blogger Mobile is released, enabling bloggers to use their mobile phones to post and send photos to their blogs. Personalised Homepage (now iGoogle) is designed for people to customise their Google homepage.
June 2005 Google Mobile Web Search is released, specially formulated for viewing search results on mobile phones.
Google Earth is unveiled, offering a satellite imagery-based mapping service combining 3D buildings and terrain with mapping capabilities and Google search.
August 2005 The company launches Google Talk, a downloadable Windows application that enables Google Mail users to chat with friends using a computer microphone and speaker for free.
September 2005 Overlays in Google Earth illustrate the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina around New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Some rescue teams use these tools to locate stranded victims.
Google Blog Search goes live, allowing users to find current and relevant blog posts on particular topics throughout the vast blogosphere.
December 2005 Google staff bulk-buy vast quantities of silly putty for fun and games in the office.
Google Transit launches in Labs, allowing people in the Portland, Oregon metro area to plan their trips on public transport on one site. Google Mail for Mobile also goes live. The Google headcount reaches 5,680.
January 2006 Google.cn, a local domain version of Google, goes live in China, attracting criticism from human rights groups who accused the search engine of submitting to government censorship.
June 2006 The Oxford English Dictionary adds “Google” as a verb. The company announces Picasa Web Albums, allowing users to upload and share their photos online. Google Mail launches in Arabic and Hebrew, bringing the number of interfaces up to 40.
August 2006 Google Book Search begins offering free PDF downloads of books in the public domain.
October 2006 Google buys the video-sharing website YouTube.
November 2006 The first nationwide Doodle 4 Google contest takes place in Britain. More than 15,000 children enter and 13-year old Katherine Chisnall is chosen to have her doodle displayed the UK homepage.
December 2006 Google staff around the world wear their pyjamas and slippers to work for the first company-wide “Pyjama Day”.
Patent Search is launched in the US, indexing more than seven million patents dating back to 1790. The staff headcount has reached 10,674.
January 2007 Google’s relationship with China blossoms further with the announcement of a partnership with China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile telecom operator, to provide mobile and Internet search services.
Army intelligence sources warn that terrorists attacking British bases in Basra are using aerial footage displayed by Google Earth to pinpoint their targets.
February 2007 The Candidates@Google series of interviews with presidential hopefuls kicks off with an appearance by Senator Hilary Clinton.
For Valentine’s Day, Google Mail is opened to everyone. It had previously been available by invitation only. Traffic information is added to Google Maps for the first time.
March 2007 Google launches “gBikes” in Mountain View, California – allowing staff to use on of 650 bicycles identifiable by an orange flag to ride to their meetings. Partnerships are signed to give free access to Google Apps for Education to 70,000 university students in Kenya and Rwanda.
April 2007 The company makes hundreds of videos of talks by authors, academics and politicians who visit its offices available on the @Google YouTube channel.
May 2007 Video, news, books, image and local results are integrated together in one search result. Street View debuts in Google Maps in five US cities: New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Miami and Denver.
June 2007 Google begins a series of blog posts affirming its support for a free and open internet, amid criticism over its relationship with China.
September 2007 Google Reader becomes available in French, Italian, German, Spanish, Dutch, English (UK), Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), Japanese and Korean.
November 2007 Android, the first open platform for mobile devices, is announced.
December 2007 The Queen launches The Royal Channel on YouTube. She is the first monarch to establish a video presence this way.
Google staff in the San Francisco Bay Area consume approximately 5,500lbs of handmade chocolates from the snack bins in their office “microkitchens” in 2007.
February 2008 Google Sites debuts. It enables users to create collaborative websites with embedded videos, documents and calendars.
April 2008 16 April Fool’s jokes from Google’s offices around the world are featured on its domain, including the new airline announced with Sir Richard Branson, Virgle, and the Manpower Search in China. In an additional prank, all viewers linking to YouTube-featured videos are “Rickrolled”.
A new version of Google Earth launches, incorporating Street View and 12 more languages.
A collaboration between the company’s New York and Shanghai teams means Chinese investors can now access stock and mutual fund data through Google Finance China.
Google Translate adds 10 more languages, bringing the total to 23.
June 2008 Google Finance adds real-time stock quotes for the first time.
July 2008 Street View is launched in Europe with image-maps for the entire 2008 Tour de France route but concerns are raised that the product breaches the privacy of those captured.
The company works with the band Radiohead to make a music video of their song House of Cards using only data and no cameras.
August 2008 Street View becomes available in several cities in Japan and Australia – the first time it has appeared outside of North America or Europe. The Google Suggest feature arrives on Google.co.uk, offering predictive search suggestions as users type.
Google launches an election site in time for the US political conventions, offering news, video and photos as well as tools for teachers and campaigners.
September 2008 Google celebrates its 10th birthday. Its new browser, Chrome, is announced ahead of schedule when the comic book introducing it is relased early. The browser officially becomes available for worldwide download a day later.
The first Google smartphone, the T Mobile G1, hits the shelves.
February 2009 The new Latitude feature on Google Maps lets users share location data with friends.
The popular Gmail service crashes around the world, leaving millions of users from Britain to Australia unable to send and receive messages for several hours.
April 2009 Residents of Broughton in Buckinghamshire form a human chain to prevent a Google Street View car from taking pictures of their homes amid fears the images could be used by burglars.
Gmail is beset again with technical difficulties and users are left without access to their emails over two days.
January 2010 Google warns it may pull out of China altogether amid fears of cyber-hacking, and then incenses Chinese authorities even more when it redirects Chinese users to its unlimited Hong Kong site.
Google unveils its very own Android phone to rival the Apple iPhone.
March 2010 Residents of Broughton in Buckinghamshire again take to the streets in protest against images of their village appearing on Google Street View.
June 2010 Google strikes a deal to allow it to continue to operate it search business in China, and the Chinese government renews its internet content provider licence until 2012.
August 2010 Gmail Calls allows users to call telephones through their email accounts using the microphones and speakers on their computers.
Google Instant search is unveiled – a function which aims to save the world’s web users 111 years per day.
Sales of Google’s Android phone overtake iPhone sales in the US. But in a rare flop, the search giant is forced to kill off Google Wave because of a lack of users.
Google celebrates its 12th birthday with a Doodle showing a painting of a cake. The search engine unveils its Transparency Report – a set of tools designed to show censorship levels around the world.
A meteor crater that could help prepare for future impacts is discovered by scientists using Google Earth.
The company announces plans to launch Google TV, which will aim to bring the best web videos to television, in the US.