Google is one of the most recognizable and successful brands in the world. Its products are used by billions of people every day, and it has expanded into new fields like virtual reality and artificial intelligence. Google’s reach is so extensive that it’s difficult to imagine our world without it — but how did we get here? Where did Google come from? How old is Google, exactly? Whether you’re researching a school project, preparing for your upcoming trivia night, or just interested in the history of one of the most influential companies in recent memory, this article has everything you need to know about Google. Keep reading to learn more.
1998: Google is Born
Google’s official birthday is September 4, 1998. That’s the day that Sergey Brin and Larry Page, two Stanford Ph.D. students, officially incorporated their company and began operating under the name Google. However, Google, as we know it today, was not yet formed. Brin and Page had been working together on a research project called “BackRub” that aimed to analyze the structure of the World Wide Web and make it easier to browse.
With the help of another Stanford student, they began to apply BackRub to larger and larger collections of data, until it was analyzing the entire web. This was the foundation of Google as it exists today. Although it’s becoming increasingly difficult to remember a time before Google, the company has only existed since 1998. It’s been growing ever since. Google is currently the world’s most valuable company.
2003: Google Goes Public
Google’s first decade was a period of rapid growth and expansion. The company continued to develop its original products and services, releasing a slew of new tools. In 2001, they released the Google AdWords program, which allows advertisers to place paid ads in Google’s organic search results. In 2003, they released a “beta” version of Google Groups, a discussion platform that allows users to create online forums. The same year, they also released
Google Analytics, a free web analytics platform that gives business owners and marketers information about their website traffic, including where their visitors are coming from, how long they’re staying, and what they’re doing on the site. Many of these products have become essential for any company that has a website, and they’re just a few of the many offerings that helped Google become a household name. However, there was one more crucial part of Google’s growth that took place in 2003: the company went public. Until that point, the company had been entirely private, but it made the decision to go public and raise $2.7 billion in an Initial Public Offering (IPO). Google’s IPO was extremely successful, gaining $85 a share — a huge increase from their original asking price of $85.
2010: Google Acquires Android
As Google continued to grow and develop new products, they found themselves with a new challenge: how to get their services into the hands of more people. At the time, Google’s products were mostly focused on the web. Their tools were designed to be used over a computer or laptop, and their services were available online. However, smartphones were becoming increasingly popular. People were using them to access the internet, but Google’s services weren’t available on these devices.
Google needed to find a way to bring its essential apps to mobile devices, but creating an app for every single smartphone on the market was a huge undertaking. In order to solve this problem, Google acquired a company called Android, Inc. for a cool $50 million. Android, Inc. had been working on creating an open-source mobile operating system called Android, with the goal of creating a single system that could be used on any device. Google was looking for this exact solution, and the two companies quickly joined forces. In 2010, Google acquired Android, Inc. and began to integrate Android into its existing products. Today, Android powers more than 2 billion smartphones. It is one of Google’s most important products, and it changed the face of mobile computing as we know it.
2011: Google Translate and Google Docs
In 2011, Google expanded its offerings even further with the release of a few new products and tools. Perhaps the most notable of these is Google Translate, an online language translation tool that allows users to instantly translate written text between languages. Previously, people had to use a dictionary and thesaurus to translate text between different languages, but Translate simplifies the process.
The same year, Google also released Google Docs, a free online word-processing application. Like many of Google’s other free services, Docs was designed to compete with other office services, like Microsoft Office. It offers basic features, such as the ability to collaborate with others, track changes, and create tables. However, it also features some Google-specific perks, like the ability to search for text in images and the option to create custom charts.
2012: Google Acquires YouTube and Motorola
In 2012, Google turned to acquisitions once more to supplement its existing offerings. The most significant of these was the acquisition of YouTube, an online video-sharing platform, for $1.65 billion. The company had been around since 2005, and at the time of the acquisition, it had over 800 million unique users every month, making it one of the most popular websites in the world.
Google integrated YouTube into Google’s existing services, expanding it with features like live streaming and the ability to more easily create playlists. Two years later, Google purchased another company: Motorola Mobility, Inc. for $12.5 billion. At the time, Motorola was one of the world’s leading manufacturers of cell phones and smartphones, and Google’s acquisition of the company gave them control over their entire supply chain.
2013: Google Glass and Chrome OS
In 2013, Google released two new products that, like Android, would shape the future of computing in ways that are not always visible. Google Glass was Google’s first foray into wearable technology, and it was designed to be a hands-free computer that could be worn as an accessory. The device featured a built-in camera, a small screen, and Google’s search engine. You could use it to take photos and videos (as long as you had permission), send messages, and conduct web searches by speaking.
Despite its futuristic design, Google Glass was met with a great deal of controversy, and it was discontinued in 2015 after poor sales. However, wearable technology has continued to grow in popularity, and the features that Google Glass introduced are now common in many smartwatches. The other product introduced in 2013 was Chrome OS, a new operating system that was designed to work primarily with computers running Google’s Chrome browser. Unlike Microsoft Windows and macOS, Chrome OS was designed to be used primarily online, syncing documents and other files through the cloud. It was a revolutionary new take on computers and computing, and it greatly expanded Google’s reach.
2014: Android Pay, Self-Driving Cars, and Google Photos
In 2014, Google continued to build on the products and technologies introduced in the previous two years. In addition to releasing new versions of their popular apps and platforms, they also made strides toward some of their more ambitious projects. That year, Google introduced Android Pay, a mobile payment method that allows people to use their smartphones as digital wallets. The following year, they announced self-driving cars, which they’d been quietly developing since 2010.
These cars use sensors and computer vision to drive themselves, and they’re designed to be safer and more efficient than human-operated vehicles. Finally, in 2014, Google launched Google Photos, a free service that provides unlimited cloud storage for photos and videos. It is integrated with Google’s image recognition software, which can recognize objects, places, and people in your photos.
2016: VR and AI with Google Home and Google Assistant
In 2016, Google continued to develop its existing products, but it also began to push into new technologies, like virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI). That year, Google introduced Daydream, a VR platform built on top of Android. They also released the Google Home, an always-listening smart speaker that can control your smart home, play music, and answer questions. Finally, they debuted Google Assistant, a digital assistant that can perform tasks and answer questions much like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. Google is continually working toward the future of technology, and these are just a few