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17 things you didn't know about Google

17 things you didn't know about Google

17 things you didn't know about Google
28 September 2015

Did you remember to send a card?

Google, the internet search giant (and closest the world has yet to come to a real-life Skynet), has turned 17 - an important age in the land of computer programming, given that 17 is considered the least "random" number going.

As the big G applies for its UK driving test, we've collected together 17 facts you might not know about the Californian tech company.

The search for search

Creators Larry Page and Sergey Brin set up their first search engine in 1996 while studying at Stanford University. 

The project, nicknamed 'BackRub', looked to link together the structure of the World Wide Web in a giant, explorable graph. It eventually became too large for the Standford internet servers to maintain.

A dog company

Google's code of conduct states that it's a Dog company:

Google’s affection for our canine friends is an integral facet of our corporate culture. We like cats, but we’re a dog company, so as a general rule we feel cats visiting our offices would be fairly stressed out.

The first homepage

Google's homepage, first launched in 1998, hasn't changed all that much in its 17 years. 

When the site first launched its homepage, the 'Google' logo deliberately copied 'Yahoo' with its use of an exclamation mark. This was dropped a year later.

'Search' and 'I'm feeling lucky' options sat alongside more specific searches, including a search of Stanford University content.

It's sparse design was in part owed to the fact that Page and Brin weren't skilled in HTML design, so kept the page simple. 

All in a name

The name 'Google' comes from the mathematical term 'googol' - the number represented by the numeral 1 followed by 100 zeros.

Not just geeks

Positions within some of Google's offices around the world include "Dance Program Manager", "Fitness Program Manager", "Transportation Program Manager" and "Intergalactic Federation King Almighty and Commander of the Universe".

The first doodle

Google's first doodle (a drawing contained within the logo) served a simple purpose: it was an out-of-office message.

Less than a week before the company would be officially incorporated, Larry Page and Sergey Brin headed off for some 'relaxation' at the Burning Man festival. Rather than putting up a lengthy notice, they inserted the Burning Man stick figure into the site's logo, placed behind the O. 

The first doodle series

Google's first 'doodle' series arrived in May 2000, featuring a little alien hovering next to the logo.

It didn't mark any special occasion, nor did it have any particular significance. It was just for fun.

The one that got away

Page and Brin tried to sell an early model of their Google search engine to the web service Excite for $1 million in 1999. 

Excite CEO George Bell rejected Page and Brin’s $1 million price for Google, rebuffing a $750,000 deal as well. 

The magic number

Part of an established Google design is that the homepage will never contain more than 28 words.

The teapot prank

You might be familiar with a "404" error message, which displays when a web page can't be found on a server. What you might not have found is a "418" error, which Google created as a hidden Easter Egg

You can find it by heading to - give it a click.

The book project

One of Google's main projects involves scanning every printed work using optical character recognition.

Estimating that there are some 130 million books in the world (an ever-growing figure), Google hopes to have scanned the majority of the world's books by the end of the century.

And in third place...

Google is the third most valuable brand in the world, with Forbes listing their market value as $367 billion.

Brave new world

While the "did you mean" function provides insights from common Google searches, Google encounters roughly 500 million "new" search queries every day - 15 per cent of its total traffic.

A lot of data

Google's Maps service currently holds a staggering 21 million gigabytes of data.

I'm feeling lucky...

It was calculated back in 2007 that Google's "I'm feeling lucky" service supposedly cost the company some $110 million in lost ad revenue per year, by virtue of the search results returning no advertised material.

In 2010, Google introduced its 'Google Instant' service, which pulled instant search results while users were typing, helping to claw back some of that lost revenue. 

Be nice

Google's unofficial code of conduct is simply "Don't be evil".

A real verb

The verb "Google" was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2006.

The addition actually upset the company, promoting this official blog post that outlined why the word should remain a trademarked term.