What is Google?

Google is one of the world’s top four most influential high-tech companies and has a wide range of Internet services and products, from email to online document creation to software for mobile phones and tablet computers. In addition, it operates Google Fiber, an Internet service with a high-speed connection that is available in some areas. It also has several subsidiaries, including health company Calico and technology investment firm CapitalG. Other subsidiaries include robotics firm Intrinsic and “moonshot” technology developer X Development.

Google’s roots go back to 1996, when founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin were working on a project called BackRub, which was intended to improve the efficiency of web searches by tracking how often keywords appeared in a given website. In 1998, the pair started a new project that grew into Google and began to receive outside financing. They chose the name Google, which was inspired by the mathematical term googol (a number that contains 100 zeros).

In 2001, they patented a key piece of their search engine’s technology, dubbed PageRank, which gave websites a ranking based on the number of times the word “google” or a similar keyword appeared on the site. Using this system, the highest-ranking pages appeared first on Google’s search results. This improved the efficiency of web searching, and the Google website quickly became a popular resource.

The company’s success enabled it to hire employees, expand its operations and develop new services. In 2004, it launched Gmail and Google Maps, and in 2008 introduced the Chrome web browser. It also acquired the social network known as Google+, which was shut down in April 2019. In 2015, Google formed a parent company called Alphabet Inc., and retained its stock price history and ticker symbol GOOG.

While Google has more than 50 Internet-based products, it makes most of its money from advertising based on users’ search requests. As of 2016, it was one of the largest and most influential online advertisers in the world, with ads appearing on more than a billion webpages across the Internet.

To handle the volume of searches, Google created 11 data centers around the world with several hundred thousand servers that contain multiprocessor personal computers and hard drives mounted in specially constructed racks. The company also uses a proprietary set of computer programs, called GFS, Bigtable and MapReduce, to store and index the information.

The company has a variety of hidden features, or Easter eggs, that provide a humorous or useful twist to some of its services. For example, typing a special string of characters in the Google search box will display the page and results in leet speak, Klingon or Pig Latin. These features are intended to highlight the company’s sense of humor and have become popular among some Google users. Other notable Google Easter eggs include a service that translates search words into Chinese, and a tool to shorten URLs. Google also maintains a collection of free fonts that can be used in Web pages.

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