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Image / Editorial

Google just turned 20 and now we feel old


by Grace McGettigan
27th Sep 2018
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It’s hard to believe we’ve been relying on Google to answer life’s biggest questions for 20 years. That’s two decades of, ‘When is Mother’s Day?’ and ‘How many days until Christmas?’.

In 1998, Stanford University students Larry Page and Sergey Brin launched the search engine while carrying out their PhD. Their mission was to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible. While a lot has changed in the world since then, Google continues to be one constant; maintaining its status as the most trusted search engine on the internet to date.

Related: Happy Safer Internet Day 

We’ve gone from dial-up connections to broadband; from large, robust computers to iPhones, and from search bars to voice recognition. Even the search engine’s name has changed. When Brin and Page first came up with the idea, they called the engine ‘Backrub’. They later changed it to ‘Google’, a purposeful misspelling of the mathematical term ‘googol’.

Today, Google Search is available in more than 150 languages in over 190 countries.

Did you know?

Google is full of fun, quirky tools (most of which people don’t know about yet). Here are some of our favourites:

  • Search “Google in 1998” to get a retro recreation of what the search engine looked like 20 years ago.
  • Type “Askew or Tilt” to see your results skewed or tilted

  • Search “Do a Barrel Roll” and your screen will do a barrel roll

  • Type “Google Gravity”, then click ‘I’m feeling lucky’. The screen collapses under the weight of gravity and you can use the pointer to sift through the pieces.

  • Ask “What is the answer to life the universe and everything?” For Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy lovers, the answer is of course “42”.

  • Search “Is Google down?” The answer is given, simply, as “no”.

  • Type “breathing exercise” into the search bar for a minute-long guided breathing exercise.

To celebrate its 20th birthday, Google has shared a 97-second video of internet searches gone by. Enjoy the clip below:

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