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15 years of Google: From University to Universal search

Google is 15 years old today. Here, we take a trip back in time and watch the Google home page -- and logo evolve.
By Eileen Brown, Contributor on
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November 1998

Google home page at http://google.stanford.edu

With equipment donated by IBM, Intel and Sun, Google appeared in 1998. Software used was GNU, Python and Linux with Parasoft used for debugging.

The Logo was designed by the GIMP (the GNU Image Manipulation program), a freely distributed piece of software suitable for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring.

The first funding for Google as a company was secured in August 1998 in the form of a US$100,000 contribution from Andy Bechtolsheim, co-founder of Sun Microsystems

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January 1999

Google Beta home page at http://alpha.google.com

Google moved its site  to Google.com, registered in September 1997 and incorporating the company in September 1998.

 

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April 1999

In March 1999, the company moved into offices at 165 University Avenue in Palo Alto. It also moved its project to its own dedicated URL at http://google.com from http://google.stanford.edu.

Its servers running main search at this time were  two 300 MHz Dual Pentium II Servers with 512MB of RAM. There are nine 9Gb drives between the two machines. The servers were donated by Intel

IBM donated an F50 IBM RS6000 with 4 processors and 512MB of memory and eight internal 9Gb drives. IBM also donated a disk expansion box with another eight 9Gb drives.

The main machine for the original Backrub system (Larry Page's research project at Stanford) was a Sun Ultra II with dual 200MHz processors, and 256MB of RAM.

Google also built its own disk box with tem 9Gb SCSI drives.

On June 7, 1999, a round of equity funding totalling $25 million was announced.

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May 2000

Images start appearing as part of the Google logo.

Google goes global and adds ten languages to its search functions. Users could now conduct searches in French, German, Italian, Swedish, Finnish, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Norwegian and Danish.

Jupiter Communications, estimated that 55 percent of all websites would be published in languages other than English by 2003.

 

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July 2000

Google announces that it now indexes over one billion web pages.

NEC Research Institute, announced that there are more than 1 billion web pages online in 2000. Users could search almost all of this content and get access to 560 million full-text indexed web pages and 500 million partially indexed URLs.

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August 2000

Google introduces its 'Advertise with us' link. Over 13 million searches were performed each day. It offered 'targeted advertising opportunities in the form of direct keyword and keyword phrasing, as well as relevant Internet category matching'.

Demographics of Google users:

  • Male (65%), female (35%)
  • High education (65% have at least a BA/BS)
  • Professional (73%)
  • High income (average income is $71,000)
  • Highly technical (71% report high/very high computer skills)
  • Online experience of 4+ years (58%)
  • Accessing the Internet from work (48%)
  • Using the web for work purposes (31%)

 

 

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October 2000

AdWords appears on the home screen.

The original idea was invented by Bill Gross of Idealab who, in turn, borrowed the idea from the model of the Yellow Pages. Google wanted to buy the idea but a deal could not be reached. Not wanting to give up on this form of advertisement, it launched its own solution, AdWords in 2000.

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July 2001

Google Groups appear.

In February 2001, Google acquired Deja News, an archive of messages posted to Usenet discussion groups.  Its assets were transitioned to groups.google.com where users could access the newsgroups through the Google Groups interface

 

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February 2002

Google introduces its enterprise search feature - the 'Search Appliance'.

The appliance mapped all the web documents on the network accessible via hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) in a process known as crawling, then creates an index of those documents.

It used PageRank to analyze the link structure of the network to determine the most important, highest quality pages across all sites. Then for each query, applied hypertext analysis using more than 100 variables to determine relevance.

It searched Microsoft Office documents, PDF, PostScript, and dozens of other file types.

Tabbed categories appeared above the search bar.

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November 2002

Google Answers appears.

Google hired more than 500 'carefully screened' researchers 'ready to answer your question for as little as $2.50 -- usually within 24 hours'.

The online knowledge market allowed users to post bounties for well researched answers to their queries. Asker-accepted answers cost $2 to $200. Google retained 25% of the researcher's reward and a 50 cent fee per question.

In addition to the researcher's fees, a client who was satisfied with the answer could also leave a tip of up to $100. It was fully closed to new activity by late December 2006,

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March 2003

Business Solutions appear.

Google adds to its portfolio of solutions. In addition to the search appliance, Google also adds a sponsored links program and content targeted advertising. It also offers a 'Buddy Link' -- a Google search box to search corporate sites using Google. 

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March 2004

Google introduces Froogle.

Froogle used Google's web crawler to index product data from vendor websites. The name was changed to Google Product Search in 2007 and Google Shopping in 2012.

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Feb 2005

Google Local introduced.

Google Local helped users find specific businesses in their local area. Users typed in a zip code to pinpoint local resources in the area.

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April 2006

Google Maps introduced.

Although acquired by Google in October 2004 and announced on the Google blog in February 2005, it started to appear on the home page in 2006 and Google Local was merged into the main Google maps site. In April version 2 of the API was announced.

 

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August 2006

Google Video appears in beta.

Google Video 'the world's first open online video marketplace' introduced video searches of TV shows, music and documentaries. You could even buy sell or rent content at the Google Video store.

In October 2006 Google bought YouTube and Google Videos search results would include videos found by web crawlers.

Google Videos was shut down in August 2012 and the content moved to YouTube.

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May 2007

Google moves to a cleaner interface. Links move from above the search bar to the top left hand corner of the browser. The browser includes links to Maps, Labs, Patents, Reader, Scholar and Finance amongst others.

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July 2008

Privacy link introduced onto home page.

Although the privacy policy had been around since 1999, it was not easy to find. It made its way onto the home page in July with its own link. You can still see all past versions of Google's privacy policy.

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September 2009

UI cleanup. The Google search boxes and I'm Feeling Lucky moved away from search box for visual appeal.

 

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May 2010

New Logo

Fonts change and the logo also loses its drop shadow.

 

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October 2010

Google introduces SSL search.

Google introduced SSL to allow users to have an 'end-to-end encrypted search solution' between their computers and Google. This secured channel helps 'protect your search terms and your search results pages from being intercepted by a third party'.

Links formally in top left hand corner of web page are now incorporated in top bar of web page.

 

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November 2011

Appearance of Google +

Launched at the end of June 2011 by invitation only, Google Plus was released to everyone in September 2011. It was integrated into the account creation process for other Google services such as Google Mail in November 2011 and included on the home page.

 

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March 2012

Privacy link updated to reflect Terms of Use for the site.

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September 2013

Google's homepage on its 15th birthday. See what your high score is.

Happy birthday Google...

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