What is Google?
Google is the world’s most popular search engine. Its proprietary algorithm helps organize and prioritize Web pages based on the number of other Web sites that link to them, rather than the content of those pages or keywords they contain. It has become so pervasive that it has even entered the lexicon as a verb; when something is searched for online, it’s often said to be “googled.”
Sergey Brin and Larry Page founded Google in 1995 as a research project while Ph.D. students at Stanford University. The name was inspired by the googol, a mathematical term that refers to the number 1 followed by 100 zeros. The company’s stated mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. In addition to the Internet’s top search engine, Google operates in numerous other areas including hardware, cloud computing and advertising.
In 1998, Bryn and Page secured $100,000 in seed capital from Sun co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim and formally incorporated Google Inc. In the same year, they released a search engine program called BackRub. The key innovation of BackRub was an algorithm dubbed PageRank, which prioritized Web pages based on the number of other pages that linked to them. This provided more useful results than existing search engines, which ranked Web pages based on their own content or a list of keywords.
Over time, the company’s product line grew to include a variety of other software services such as Google Maps and Gmail. In addition, Google created the Android mobile operating system and video-sharing site YouTube. In 2011, it acquired the popular photo-editing service Picasa, which was rebranded as Google Photos. Google also offers a range of physical products such as the Pixel smartphone, Chromecast in-home media streamer and the Chromebook laptop line. In 2017, it introduced the Google Lens feature, which uses image recognition technology to identify objects in real-world environments.
Many of Google’s services have hidden Easter eggs – features that aren’t officially supported but provide a unique way to use a particular service. For example, using a special URL can trigger Google to display results in leet speak (Google H4x0r) or in Klingon, or translate a search into another language (Google Translate). Google also hosts the Internet Archive, which provides a collection of digital documents that can be viewed by anyone with an Internet connection. These are often used by historians and researchers to examine historical documents that are not available anywhere else.