Google founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, were not fond of each other when they initially met as Stanford University graduate students in 1995. Larry was visiting the campus and Sergey was assigned to show him around. Every topic they discussed turned into an argument. Their differing viewpoints and strong opinions would eventually solve one of computing’s biggest challenges: retrieving relevant information from a massive amount of data
By January 1996, Larry and Sergey had settled down and begun collaboration on a search engine originally called “BackRub”. Larry was able to build a server environment using low-end PCs instead of big, expensive machines. The pair was often seen on the department’s loading docks tracking down newly arrived computers in hopes that they could borrow them for their network.
A year later, buzz about the new search technology began to build as word spread around campus. Larry and Sergey continued working on their technology through the first half of 1998. They created Google’s first data center by buying a terabyte of disks at bargain prices and building their own computer housings in Larry’s dorm room. They had little interest in building a company of their own, so they started looking for partners.Larry and Sergey decided to make a go of it after failing to entice anyone with a partnership. Not long after, funding was secured. In September 1998, Google Inc. opened its door in Menlo Park, California.
Google.com (still in beta) was answering 10,000 search queries each day. The press began to take notice. By February 1999, Google was answering 500,000 queries a day. Interest in the company continued to grow.
Google soon moved to Mountain View, California to its new headquarters, also known as Googleplex. A partnership with AOL/Netscape helped push traffic levels above 3 million searches a day. What started as a college research project was now a real company. On September 21, 1999, the beta distinction was removed.
Google’s features and performance attracted new users at an astounding rate. In June 2000, Google officially became the world’s largest search engine with its introduction of a billion-page index. This was the first time so much of the web’s content had been made available in a searchable format. Clients everywhere were signing up to use Google’s search technology on their own sites.
The Google toolbar was added late in 2000. It made it possible to use Google search without visiting the Google homepage. This proved very popular and has since been downloaded by millions of users. The first half of 2001 saw a series of partnerships and innovations that would bring Google search to a worldwide audience of mobile users. By providing users with the best search capabilities, Google began to see profitability in the fourth quarter of 2001.
Many new products were being released by Google as their services evolved. Google Image Search enabled users to search for images. Google News offered access to 4,500 leading news sources from around the world. Blogger, a provider of services for “those inclined to share their thoughts with the world”, was acquired in 2003. Version 2.0 of the Google Toolbar was released. The Google Deskbar was also released. The Toolbar’s enhancements included a pop-up blocker and form filler, while the Deskbar’s location in the Windows Taskbar made it possible to search Google without even launching a web browser. Numerous advanced search features, including a calculator, parcel tracking, flight information, VIN numbers and more.
New services that emerged in 2004 included Local Search, for those times when all a person needs is local information. A new web-based mail service called Gmail came next. Gmail included a gigabyte of free storage for each user and offered a powerful built in search function, messages grouped by subject line into conversations, and enough free storage to hold years’ worth of messages. Picasa came soon after. Picasa allows users to organize, manage, and share their digital photos.
Google Maps allowed users to find location information, navigate through maps, and get directions. It is also able to display a map or satellite view. Google Earth enables users to fly through space, zooming into specific locations, and see the real world in sharp focus.
Google Talk was released and quickly became a free way to speak to people anytime, anywhere via your computer. It features clear voice technology and an instant message service. Google Desktop was updated and began offering at-a-glance access to your files, email, news, photos, weather, RSS feeds, stocks and other personalized web content. Local service was also made available via mobile phones.
Google Book Search scanned public domain books in order to make them available to a global audience of readers. Google Chat connected people by integrating email and instant messaging within a web browser. Google Page Creator makes it easy for anyone to design and create web pages quickly. Google Finance improved the information that many investors and businesses rely on daily. A web-based calendar can be created and shared with anyone who needs the information. A U.S. Government Search makes it easier to find Federal information. Google Docs and Spreadsheets are an integrated, web-based word processing and spreadsheet application that allows collaboration in the creation and sharing of documents.
Google is constantly looking for ways to improve their services and fulfill the need for information. Google and social networking may see advances with MySpace. Efforts are being made in mobile communication – all directed towards helping more people access more information in more ways.
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