Happy Birthday, Google!

The company's official birth date and other important milestones

Girl blowing out candles on cartoon birthday cake

 Brand New Images / Getty Images

The exact year of Google's "birth" depends on how you measure it, so the date the company's birthday is celebrated has shifted around over the years. It's currently celebrated on September 27th.

Summer of 1995: Larry Page and Sergey Brin First Meet

Larry Page and Sergey Brin are the cofounders of Google. In 1995 Page was considering attending Stanford for grad school, and Brin was the second-year grad student assigned to show him around. Page decided to attend Stanford, but he and Brin were not instant friends. Each actually thought the other was "obnoxious," but they debated each other into friendship and partnership.

January 1996: The Start of a New Search Engine 

The search engine project that evolved into Google began as Page's doctoral thesis. His idea was to have the search engine crawl and rank search results based loosely on the idea of "citation."

In scholarly research, academics count the number of people citing their work as a measure of how authoritative their writing is. This method is still used today, and Google Scholar will tell you your citation count among other things.

Page worked on this new search engine, then called BackRub, as a way to translate the idea of citation into the growing World Wide Web. Originally Page was interested in graphing the World Wide Web, and then both he and Brin realized this tool would make a fantastic consumer search engine.

Previously, search engines either crawled based on the number of times a keyword was mentioned or were set up as curated portals (like Yahoo) that just sorted all the cool sites they knew about into categories. 

The BackRub search engine used an innovative approach to finding pages ranked by relevancy. Page and Brin renamed the search engine Google, and the algorithm it employed was named PageRank.

The word "google" is a play on the word "googol," which is a number represented by a one followed by a hundred zeros. 

The project got so big that it started having an impact on Stanford's network. Page and Brin dropped out of grad school to try launching Google as a startup.

September 1998: Google Launches

The Web domain www.google.com was registered in 1997, but Google officially opened for business in September of 1998. Generally, Google uses the 1998 official Google business launch date to calculate its age in years. By most accounts, the true day of the official Google opening was September 7th, but the company has shifted the date around, "depending on when people feel like having cake." 

In recent years, Google's birthday has generally been celebrated on September 27th, and you can watch for a birthday-themed Google doodle on that date.

Not only does Google celebrate its own birthday, but it also celebrates yours as well. If you have registered for a Google Account, you'll see a personal birthday cake Google doodle on your special day.