What is Google?

Google is a world-renowned technology company that is best known for its search engine, which democratized information access on an unprecedented scale. Google has expanded its portfolio to include other innovative products that transform various aspects of people’s lives. Google Maps, for example, has revolutionized navigation by enabling users to easily navigate unfamiliar territories and find local businesses. Google Translate has broken down language barriers to enable global communication and collaboration. Google’s research and development division, Google X (now known as X), is pushing the boundaries of technological innovation by working on ambitious projects such as self-driving cars and internet-beaming balloons.

Google was founded in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were Ph.D. students at Stanford University. They developed a search algorithm at first called BackRub that prioritized Web pages based on how many other Web pages linked to them, as opposed to the content and keywords of the page itself. The new algorithm produced better results than other search engines and sparked massive growth in their startup company.

In September of the same year, the newly formed company was formally incorporated. Google received its first outside funding from Sun Microsystems co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim, who saw the early product demo on a professor’s porch and wrote a check for $100,000. Google has since grown exponentially to become the most popular search engine in the world. By 2011, daily recorded searches reached 200 million and Google’s name entered the lexicon as a verb—“to google” became synonymous with searching the Internet.

The company’s headquarters are in Mountain View, California, with additional offices worldwide. The company operates 11 data centers that contain several hundred thousand servers—basically, multiprocessor personal computers and hard drives mounted in specially constructed racks. The servers are interlinked via a proprietary system of computer programs that is centered on three pieces of proprietary software: Google File System, Bigtable, and MapReduce. The last of these is used to combine the “chunks” of raw data stored on multiple machines into higher-level information such as Web pages containing specific words or the names of famous people.

In addition to its search engine, Google offers a variety of other products and services such as Google News, Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google Chrome, Google Earth, and Google Maps. It also provides advertising services through Google AdWords and Google Analytics, as well as mobile phone apps such as Google Chromecast and Google Duo. It has even ventured into the virtual reality market with its Google Daydream View VR headset. The company’s stock is included in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index. Its initial public offering in 2004 made Page and Brin instant billionaires. Since then, the company has grown dramatically and acquired numerous other companies and technologies such as Android, the popular mobile operating system, and X, its research and development division. The company is also involved in a number of controversial projects including self-driving cars and delivery drones. It has also been exploring quantum computing and other areas of science and technology.

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