Who Invented Google: The Story of the Search Giant

Google apps on an Android smartphone

Google apps on an Android smartphone | iStock.com/ymgerman

You know you’ve made it when your brand name becomes an official dictionary term for what you do. If you don’t believe us, just Google it.

With Google Home launched recently, many people are starting to get curious about just who invented Google. This company impacts the lives of almost everyone across the globe, so we took a look into the question of who invented Google and found the answer — after a good long Google search, of course.

Who invented Google?

Google founders Larry Page, left, and Sergey Brin talk with members of the media

Google founders Larry Page, left, and Sergey Brin talk with members of the media | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In 1996, two Stanford post-grad students, American-born Larry Page and Russian-born Sergey Brin, developed what would quickly turn into Google. The story is a bit more involved than that, as we’ll explain, but Page and Brin are the short answer to who invented Google.

Interestingly, the pair didn’t get along when they first met. Before Page enrolled at Stanford, he took a tour and found himself in Brin’s group. He found Brin too social, even obnoxious, and the pair had friendly arguments during the tour.

Why was Google invented?

concept network, communication, social networking

A concept of networking | iStock.com/naddi

At first, it was part of Page’s doctoral project. The web — which was still in its infancy at that time — fascinated Page. He wanted to find a way to organize it. He used a system based on bibliometrics, a practice in the scientific community of organizing the amount of citations in a research paper.

Page theorized that backlinks to other sites and pages were just paper citations in another form. When it came time to actually map out his theories, the project became more ambitious than he anticipated, and so he recruited help.

How was Google invented?

Stanford University features original sandstone walls

Stanford University features original sandstone walls | iStock.com/Wolterk

Brin was a mathematics prodigy, even at a young age, though at times he appeared to be the lazy kind of genius. He took a lot of “goof-off” classes and applied his intelligence mostly to side projects, which was how he joined Page.

Brin helped Page with the details of BackRub, a crawler program that counted the amounts of backlinks to a site. The first site the crawler started on was Page’s own Stanford homepage, and it worked outward from there.

How does Google’s ranking system work?

Google founders Sergey Brin, left, and Larry Page pose for photographers

Google founders Sergey Brin, left, and Larry Page pose for photographers | John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images

Realizing backlinks from more credible sources were worth more than sheer numbers, the pair developed an algorithm called PageRank to prioritize sites within certain topics. PageRank accounted for how many backlinks the sites that backlinked had, how many backlinks those backlinked sites had, and so on.

There were a lot of mathematical wrinkles to iron out. But that’s the kind of hard commuting work you’d expect from the people who invented Google.

How did Google become a search engine?

Google website on smartphone screen

Google website on a smartphone screen | iStock.com/dolphfyn

In the end, PageRank made BackRub highly effective — even more effective than the leading search engines of the time, AltaVista and Excite. Not only were their results superior to other search engines, their system was able to be scaled. The bigger the web got, the more accurate the results. And in 1996, at the dawn of the dotcom boom, that was exactly what the world needed.

Who invented Google, the company?

Android Marshmallow replica in front of Google office

Android Marshmallow replica in front of Google office | iStock.com/maislam

They changed the name BackRub to Google after the mathematical term “googol,” the numeral 1 followed by a hundred zeros. It represents the vast potential of the burgeoning web. In August 1996, the first version of Google launched on the Stanford website, where it quickly became a hit.

Page and Brin kept building on Google’s first form. In need of computer resources, they scrounged around and even begged the computer department for handouts. Page’s dorm room became the makeshift computer lab, while Brin’s dorm room became the office and management headquarters.

How did Google take off?

Google applications on iphone and ipad display

Google applications on iPhone and iPad displays | iStock.com/Emevil

The little Google goldfish quickly outgrew its tiny tank. At one point, the young search engine consumed over half of Stanford’s entire bandwidth. In summer 1997, Jon Kleinberg, a Cornell professor researching at IBM, caught wind of Google and visited the young men at Stanford.

What they created impressed Kleinberg, as it was superior to the hubs-and-authorities method he was working on to catalogue the internet. He tried to persuade them to publish an academic paper on PageRank, but both men, at that time, were reluctant.

What obstacles did they face?

Google founders Sergey Brin, left, and Larry Page pose for photographers

Google founders Sergey Brin, left, and Larry Page pose for photographers | John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images

With a powerful algorithm, the founders were the only thing that could stand in their way. Page told Kleinberg he was worried about others stealing his idea, but there was more to it than that.

Page viewed his remaining at Stanford as a tribute to his father, who had passed away during Page’s first year there. Brin was raised in a family that valued academics, so leaving school to start a dotcom business seemed too risky. As history has it, though, they overcome their fears and published the paper. The company formally incorporated in 1998.

How did everything work out?

Google, Inc. is listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange for the first time

Google, Inc. is listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange for the first time | Getty Images/Handout

Today, Google is the No. 1 search engine on the planet and accounts for over 70% of all searches. Then, there are the offshoots of Google, the additional services that make up the greater Google family: Chrome, Gmail, Docs, Fiber, AdWords, Analytics, Maps, and even the involvement in Android development.

But Google’s most revolutionary product, after a little over a decade, is the search engine. You can search for literally anything on Google — but there are some things we recommend you shouldn’t.

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