Google began in January 1996, as a research project by Larry Page, who was soon joined by Sergey Brin, two Ph.D. students at Stanford University in California.They hypothesized that a search engine that analyzed the relationships between websites would produce better ranking of results than existing techniques, which ranked results according to the number of times the search term appeared on a page. Their search engine was originally nicknamed “BackRub” because the system checked backlinks to estimate the importance of a site. A small search engine called Rankdex was already exploring a similar strategy.
Convinced that the pages with the most links to them from other highly relevant web pages must be the most relevant pages associated with the search, Page and Brin tested their thesis as part of their studies, and laid the foundation for their search engine. Originally, the search engine used the Stanford University website with the domain google.stanford.edu. The domain google.com was registered on 15 September 1997,and the company was incorporated as Google Inc. on 4 September 1998 at a friend’s garage in Menlo Park, California. The total initial investment raised for the new company amounted to almost US$1.1 million, including a US$100,000 check by Andy Bechtolsheim, one of the founders of Sun Microsystems.
In March 1999, the company moved into offices in Palo Alto, home to several other noted Silicon Valley technology startups.After quickly outgrowing two other sites, the company leased a complex of buildings in Mountain View at 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway from Silicon Graphics (SGI) in 2003.The company has remained at this location ever since, and the complex has since come to be known as the Googleplex (a play on the word googolplex). In 2006, Google bought the property from SGI for US$319 million.
The Google search engine attracted a loyal following among the growing number of Internet users, who liked its simple design and useful results.In 2000, Google began sellingadvertisements associated with search keywords. The ads were text-based to maintain an uncluttered page design and to maximize page loading speed. Keywords were sold based on a combination of price bid and clickthroughs, with bidding starting at US$.05 per click. This model of selling keyword advertising was pioneered by Goto.com (later renamed Overture Services, before being acquired by Yahoo! and rebranded as Yahoo! Search Marketing).Goto.com was an Idealab spin off created by Bill Gross, and was the first company to successfully provide a pay-for-placement search service. Overture Services later sued Google over alleged infringements of Overture’s pay-per-click and bidding patents by Google’sAdWords service. The case was settled out of court, with Google agreeing to issue shares of common stock to Yahoo! in exchange for a perpetual license. Thus, while many of its dot-com rivals failed in the new Internet marketplace, Google quietly rose in stature while generating revenue.
The name “Google” originated from a common misspelling of the word “googol”, which refers to 10100, the number represented by a 1 followed by one hundred zeros. Having found its way increasingly into everyday language, the verb “google”, was added to the Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary in 2006, meaning “to use the Google search engine to obtain information on the Internet.”
A patent describing part of the Google ranking mechanism (PageRank) was granted on 4 September 2001.The patent was officially assigned to Stanford University and lists Lawrence Page as the inventor.