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Sept. 27, 2018, marked Google’s 20th birthday — or did it? Since 2006, the omnipresent search giant has celebrated its founding on Sept. 27, but the occasion was celebrated as early as Sept. 7 in years prior.

Google acknowledges the squishiness of its celebration date with a wink emoticon in its 2018 commemorative birthday Doodle, a video taking a stroll down memory lane to look at the most-searched questions of the past 20 years, with a link to a fascinating interactive tool depicting search history. (The Songs category, for instance, clearly illustrates the rise and fall of “Gangnam Style.” And no surprise that searches for Jersey Shore peaked in 2011.)

Other fuzzy areas of Google’s history

Google could celebrate on Sept. 4, the official date of its incorporation in 1998. Or it could celebrate the 1995 date that Google co-founder Larry Page arrived on the Stanford University campus to pursue a Ph.D. in computer science. A student named Sergey Brin was randomly assigned to show Page around. Page decided to attend Stanford, where he began working on a project he called “BackRub” that examined the backlinks constituting the World Wide Web. He began to collaborate with his old tour guide Brin on a crawler that would find backlinks and assign ranks to those from the most valuable sources (e.g., an academic source would rate more highly than a GeoCities site). Page and Brin noted that the crawler’s results were more useful than the search results produced by the leading search engines of the period and decided to turn their crawler into a competitor. Thankfully, they quit calling it BackRub, opting for Google, either a play on or a typo of “googol,” or a one followed a hundred zeros. (This is another fuzzy area of Google’s history.)

Check out #searchis20 for more hot takes on Google’s 20th birthday.

Photo: Twin Design / Shutterstock.

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Kate Johanns

Posted by Kate Johanns

Kate Johanns is a communications professional and freelance writer with more than 13 years of experience in publishing and marketing.

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