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Sunday
Sep302007

Google - 12 Things I Bet You Didn't Know

  • Google's name is a play on the word googol - Googol is the large number 10100, that is, the digit 1 followed by one hundred zeros.350px-Googol-1.png The term was coined in 1920 by nine-year-old Milton Sirotta nephew of American mathematician Edward Kasner.

    If you were to write it in conventional notation it would look like this: 1 googol = 10100 = 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

    Google's play on the term reflects the company's mission to organize the immense amount of information available on the web.

    Larry Page: We didn't start out to do a search engine at all. In late 1995, I started collecting the links on the Web, because my advisor and I decided that would be a good thing to do. We didn't know exactly what I was going to do with it, but it seemed like no one was really looking at the links on the Web - which pages link to which pages. In computer science, there's a lot of big graphs...I figured I could get a dissertation and do something fun and perhaps practical at the same time, which is really what motivates me...I started off by reversing the links, and then I wanted to find basically, say, who links to the Stanford home page and there's 10,000 people who link to Stanford. Then the question is, which ones do you show? So you can only show 10, and we ended up with this way of ranking links, based on the links. Then we were like, "Wow, this is really good. It ranks things in the order you would expect to see them." Stanford would be first. You can take universities and just rank them, and they come out in the order you'd expect. So we thought, "This is really interesting. This thing really works. We should use it for search." So I started building a search engine. Sergey also came on very early, probably in late '95 or early '96, and was really interested in the data mining part. Basically, we thought, "Oh, we should be able to make a better search engine this way."

  • Googol was the answer to the million-pound question on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? when Major Charles Ingram allegedly attempted to defraud the quiz show on 10 September 2001.
  • Google started as a research project at Stanford University, created by Ph.D. candidates Larry Page and Sergey Brin. They didn't get along at first. Larry was a 24-year-old University of Michigan alumnus on a weekend visit. Sergey, 23, was among a group of students assigned to show him around. They argued about every topic they discussed. In 1996, Page and Brin began collaborating on a search engine called BackRub, named for its unique ability to analyze the "back links" pointing to a given website. Larry had already gained some notoriety for building a working printer out of Lego™.
  • Larry Page: My dad was a computer science professor, so we had computers really early. The first computer we owned as a family was in 1978, the Exidy Sorcerer. It was popular in Europe but never in the U.S. It had 32K memory. My brother had to write the operating system.
  • Google's index of web pages is the largest in the world, comprising of billions of web pages. Google searches this immense collection of web pages often in less than half a second. Google currently accounts for 65% of U.S. web searches.
  • Users can restrict their searches for content in 35 non-English languages, including Chinese, Greek, Icelandic, Hebrew, Hungarian and Estonian. But there is also Klingon interface for out-of-space visitors.
  • Google has a staff of more than 2,668 employees known as Googlers. The company headquarters is called The Googleplex.
  • The buildings start with the number "42," not because there are 42 buildings - there are only four on the main campus. The first building is named "42" after the answer to the question, What is the meaning to life, the universe, and everything? - a joke from Douglas Adams The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
  • The basis of Google's search technology is called PageRank™ and assigns an "importance" value to each page on the web and gives it a rank to determine how useful it is. It has nothing to do with actual pages but is named after Google co-founder Larry Page.
  • The Googleplex restaurant has stations for sandwiches, sushi, Mexican, Indian and other foods. A lot of the food is healthy, low-fat and organic. Even the ice cream is specially made with Google-branded plastic wrappers because it has been custom-made with no trans-fats.
  • Besides free food, Google employees get a host of on-site benefits, some subsidized and some free, that keep them happy at work and able to work long hours. They can do their laundry, take showers, play volleyball, get massages, leave the kids with the free child care and even bring their pets to work. There's free personal training at the gym, where scores of flat-panel TVs sit in front of exercise books and jogging machines. There's a couple of "infinity pools" that shoot a current of water at the swimmer, who swims against the tide without actually going anywhere. On-site doctors are available to treat ergonomic issues or wear and tear from long hours.
  • Googlers can sit in on a lecture from fashion designer Diane von Furstenburg or politicians like Bill or Hillary Clinton - reflecting Google's philosophy of invest in yourself.
  • Googlers comes from all sorts of backgrounds - one operations manager is a former neurosurgeon. One software engineer is a former rocket scientist. And the company's chef formerly prepared meals for members of The Grateful Dead and funkmeister George Clinton.

Here's a CNN Video of Inside Googleplex -

Larry Page: Artificial intelligence would be the ultimate version of Google. So we have the ultimate search engine that would understand everything on the Web. It would understand exactly what you wanted, and it would give you the right thing. That's obviously artificial intelligence, to be able to answer any question, basically, because almost everything is on the Web, right? We're nowhere near doing that now. However, we can get incrementally closer to that, and that is basically what we work on. And that's tremendously interesting from an intellectual standpoint.

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Reader Comments (2)

interstine.... like my spelling
October 1, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDelorumrex
amazing to know so much abt google!! .....really done a gud job...
November 23, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterruchi

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