Google Turns 15: Google Doodle Lets You Whack a Piñata (Plus: Fun Easter Egg)

  • Share
  • Read Later

Okay, we have several orders of business to take care of.

First, Google is 15. If you don’t care to learn any more about that, head to, warm up your spacebar and take a whack at Google’s birthday piñata. It’s fun!

Second, the Google-is-15-today thing is a little murky. The company filed for incorporation on September 4, 1998 but officially launched on September 27, 1998.

Easter egg! Search “Google in 1998” on Google.

Some highlights from the timeline of events leading up to the September 27, 1998 launch:

In 1995, Larry Page visits Stanford. He has graduated from the University of Michigan and is considering Stanford for grad school. As fate would have it, Sergey Brin is his campus tour guide. “According to some accounts, they disagree about almost everything during this first meeting,” says Google.

By 1996, Page and Brin are both grad students and they’re collaborating on a search engine called “BackRub” – here’s the archived version of the site. It includes links to Brin’s homepage (which is awesome) and Page’s homepage (which is sparse) as they appeared on Stanford’s servers. Sergey’s cool animated GIF for his profile photo is truly mesmerizing.

Sergey Brin —

An early Google logo, as found on Sergey Brin’s archived Stanford homepage.

In 1997, Page and Brin decide to rename BackRub to something else. “Google” is born. It’s “a play on the word ‘googol,’ a mathematical term for the number represented by the numeral 1 followed by 100 zeros. The use of the term reflects their mission to organize a seemingly infinite amount of information on the web,” says Google.

Can you imagine if they kept the original name? “Let me BackRub that real quick.”

By 1998, Google is building up steam. In August, “Sun co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim writes a check for $100,000″ so Page and Brin can get down to business. The check is written to “Google, Inc.” but Page and Brin don’t officially incorporate until early September. They then open a bank account so they can deposit the check.

Page and Brin begin working out of Susan Wojcicki’s garage in September as well. Today, Wojcicki is a senior vice president at Google. After the check clears, presumably, Craig Silverstein – a computer science grad student Page and Brin know from Stanford — is hired as Google’s first employee. And though there’s no mention of it in the company timeline, Google apparently becomes officially official on September 27, 1998.

The entire timeline is worth a read if you’re interested in Google’s history. And, as mentioned, Sergey Brin’s archived Stanford homepage is pretty fascinating. There are links to some of his personal photos and fun quips such as “My Mom and Dad are on the WWW. My brother’s elementary school is also online.”

Related Google coverage:


I still find it amazing that 15 years afte its launch, Google has not been sued for copyright infringement over its name by either the estate of the late cartoonist Billy DeBeck or by King Features Syndicate. 

DeBeck (1890-1942) was the creator of the newspaper comic strip, "Barney Google and Snuffy Smith," which has run in more than 900 newspapers since1919. The strip was tremendously popular in the 1920s and 1930s. I remember reading "Barney Google and Snuffy Smith" while a child growing up in New York City in the early 1960s. It was one of my favorite Sunday comics in the long-since-defunct New York Journal-American.

Although the character Barney Google was rarely seen in the strip by the late 1950s (Snuffy Smith had become the dominant character) his name remained in the strip's title. So I'm surprised that when founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page launched Google in 1998, that they didn't hear from King Features Syndicate's lawyers over the name.

You can read the Wikipedia page about the comic strip at


give that chick a bike that fits her. that looks amazingly uncomfortable.


I miss the cached feature they had back then. It was so useful!


your link is for Google in 1988 not 1998.


@GopherButt It's still there but hidden. Next to the link you're looking for, there's a triangle. Click on it and you'll see.