Little Bits of History

Doodling Around

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 30, 2015
The first Google Doodle

The first Google Doodle

August 30, 1998: The first Google Doodle appears. Larry Page and Sergey Brin were both PhD students at Stanford University in California when they began Google! in January 1996 (complete with exclamation point). Search engines at the time used how many times the search term appeared on the page, but the two students thought there was a better way to organize the internet. They called their new process PageRank and it analyzed the relationships between websites and the relevance of a search was determined by the number of pages and the importance of those pages in terms of the search query. They were going to call their product BackRub, since it checked backlinks to rank relevance to the search terms. Instead, they misspelled googol, a huge number chosen because they intended to provide huge amounts of information.

Originally run from Stanford University’s website, they registered the domain name for Google on September 15, 1997. The two men were incorporating their company and by late August, with the chaos associated with such an endeavor, they decided they needed a break. They were going to participate in Burning Man.  The weeklong event began in California but moved to Nevada by this time. The radical self-expression and self-reliance of the week, along with the sense of community and the admiration of creativity and art, was just what the two young men needed. However, the internet can be a place of misadventure and they were fearful their new website might crash. They wanted to let people know they weren’t there and so they incorporated the logo for Burning Man into their logo and incidentally made the first Google Doodle.

Google was founded, officially, on September 4, 1998 and a new logo appeared at the end of October. Their first intentional Doodle was displayed on November 26, a Thanksgiving Doodle. The next year, there were just four Doodles (Halloween, Thanksgiving, an Uncle Sam doodle on November 30, and a Christmas doodle which was more winter than Christmas themed). By 2000, there were 34 different Doodles, 11 of them for the Olympics, held that year. In the beginning, Doodles were neither animated nor hyperlinked. Their complexity also increased with time and in January 2010, the first animated Doodle was displayed in honor of Isaac Newton. The first interactive Doodle was Pac-Man in May 2012 and hyperlinks were also added.

At first, Doodles were designed by an outside contractor. For Bastille Day in 2000, intern Dennis Hwang was asked to create a Doodle and since then, they have been created and published by a team of Google employees called Doodlers. Doodles have been created for specific days and to honor specific people including scientists and artists. Thanksgiving has been honored each year since 1998 and Halloween since 1999. There are several other holidays that have been regularly celebrated with a Google Doodle as well. Of course, there have been criticisms of the Doodles themselves and sometimes of the event honored or ignored. There has been a yearly contest for students to submit a Doodle and the winners get to have their art displayed on the homepage. The variety of Doodles is almost as fun as the creativity involved in making them.

Invention is not enough. Tesla invented the electric power we use, but he struggled to get it out to people. You have to combine both things: invention and innovation focus, plus the company that can commercialize things and get them to people. – Larry Page

If we were motivated by money, we would have sold the company a long time ago and ended up on a beach. – Larry Page

Solving big problems is easier than solving little problems. – Sergey Brin

Once you go from 10 people to 100, you already don’t know who everyone is. So at that stage you might as well keep growing, to get the advantages of scale. – Sergey Brin

Also on this day: Yesterdays and Todays – In 1909, the Burgess Shale site was discovered.
Thin Red Line – In 1963, a direct link between Washington, D.C. and Moscow was established.
Wreck of the Pandora – In 1791, the Pandora sunk.
Well Being with Sikhs – In 1574, Ram Das Ji became a Guru.
Lone Shooter? – In 1918, Fanya Kaplan shot Vladimir Lenin.

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