20 years ago this month, and two years after it was launched internally at Stanford University by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google was officially incorporated as a company. At first, they didn’t get much attention, being only one of a large number of competing search engines and “web portals,” but within a few months they were already gaining praise for their “remarkably smart” results, and the rest is history.

I still remember the very first search I did on Google, all the way back in 1998. I was doing some freelance design work at the time, and at a family lunch I complained to one of my uncles (who worked in software development), that I was struggling to find a suitable brushed aluminium texture for a job I was working on. He suggested I try this new search engine that had just launched, and as soon as I got home I plugged in the old 56k modem, dialled up, and went to www.google.com. The very first result gave me exactly what I was looking for, and I’ve used them ever since.

Shaping The Modern Internet

Google has arguably been one of the leading forces in shaping the development of the internet. As much as the internet contains what is effectively a repository of nearly the entire sum of human knowledge, it’s almost useless without an effective way of finding what you’re looking for. Google provided that way, and they did it better than anybody else, which is why almost all of their competition in search has vanished, and Google processes 3.5 billion search queries a day.

From that deceptively simple search engine, Google has grown to the point where they now manage 8 separate products, each with more than 1 billion users. They generated 95 billion US Dollars in ad revenue alone in 2017, and continue to grow and diversify.

A Brief History Of Google

  • 1996: First known as “Backrub,” Google began as a research project launched on Stanford Universities Network.
  • 1998: Incorporated as a business with $100,000 funding.
  • 2000: Launches AdWords (now Google Ads).
  • 2002: Yahoo tries to acquire Google for $3 billion, but was turned down as the owners felt it was worth at least $5 billion.
  • 2004: Gmail launches to the public with 1Gb storage. (Invitation only.)
  • 2004: Google goes public with an IPO of $85 per share. (Todays share price: $1,176)
  • 2005: Google Maps launches.
  • 2006: Acquires YouTube, outbids Microsoft, & Yahoo.
  • 2007: Acquires Doubleclick, becomes dominant in online advertising.
  • 2008: Launches Chrome browser.
  • 2008: Launches Android (which will become the most popular mobile OS in the world).
  • 2010: Atarts work on self-driving cars.
  • 2011: Launches Chrome Operating System.
  • 2014: Acquires AI research lab DeepMind.
  • 2015: Restructures as Alphabet Inc.
  • 2016: Launches Google Assistant.