On this day: Happy birthday Google

September 27 1998: The start of the internet as we know it

By Jennifer Lipman, September 27, 2010

Can it really be only 12 years since Google began? The search engine was developed by Stanford University students Larry Page, of Jewish descent, and Sergey Brin, the son of Russian Jews who emigrated to America in 1979.

The pair met in 1995 and soon began working on computer projects together, developing a groundbreaking system for ranking web pages. They came up with the name Google from a misspelling of the mathematical term for a large number and the company was officially founded in September 1998.

Well-known to boast the slogan “Don’t be evil”, Google has faced criticism for its reluctance to remove offensive websites from high search rankings and its willingness to operate in China.

Despite this, the company has become arguably one of the most influential in the world. In 2006, the verb “to google” was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2006, meaning, “to use the Google search engine to obtain information on the internet.” In November that year, Google took over video sharing website YouTube.

Other Google products include email service Gmail and Google Maps. Google Translate can even change sentences from English into Hebrew and Yiddish. After launching in Israel in 2005, in May 2010 the company acquired its first Israeli start-up, reaching a $25 million deal with the gaming site LabPixies.

Google regularly adapts its ubiquitous colourful logo to mark anniversaries or special events, ranging from the creation of PacMan, 30 years of Sesame Street and the World Cup Final. On September 27 2009, the company added an extra L to the logo, to form the number eleven within the word.

Twelve years on, Google’s founders are worth $15 billion.

What the JC said about Sergey Brin: Personable, with an easy smile, Sergey brims with a healthy self-assuredness that at times spills over into arrogance. At Stanford, he was known for his habit of bursting in on professors without knocking…His abiding interest was computer science, specifically data mining, or how to extract meaningful patterns from mountains of information.

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Last updated: 3:13pm, September 6 2011