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Google

Tech - Advanced




I n 1996 two Stanford University students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin got intrigued by the prospect of backlinks and decided to base their Ph.D. dissertation on it. In layman’s terms, they wanted to determine the number and relevance of websites that linked to a specific page on the internet. The idea was that, just like with research papers, the most authoritative ones are those that are cited the most often. Since in the 90s even the most successful search companies had no way of organizing their results, it didn't take them long to realize just how revolutionary their idea was. The pair spent months tweaking the algorithms and improving the engine before finally making Google public in 1997.

 From the very beginning, Page and Brin were more concerned with the quality of their service than with making money, and that dedication has certainly paid off in the long run. Within a year the number of Google’s daily users rose to over 10,000 through word of mouth alone. The company quickly outgrew Larry’s dorm room as well as their first office space in a rented Silicon Valley garage, and in 2004 it was finally moved to its current headquarters known as “Googleplex” in Mountain View, California.  

It may be hard to believe, but despite Google’s immense popularity, the company wasn’t earning any money for the first several years. It wasn’t until they introduced AdWords that things took a turn for the better. AdWords was Google’s pay-per-click advertising service with a twist. Instead of merely allowing the highest bidder to get the best advertising spot, they introduced a “Quality Score” which allowed Google to rank ads according to the number of times they were clicked on and value them accordingly. Ultimately, advertisers who were more popular ranked higher than those who simply paid for ad space. This new system turned out to be a huge success for Google as the advertisements appealed to the needs of users.  

Money not being an issue anymore, Google began expanding its service in the early 2000s. Gmail was launched in 2004. Google Maps and Google Earth, as well as Google apps, were created in 2005. In 2006 Google acquired Youtube. The following year Streetview and the Android mobile operating system were launched. The year 2008 saw the birth of Chrome. In 2010 Google announced a plan to start developing driverless cars and went further down the sci-fi path by releasing a prototype of Google Glass in 2013.  

Twenty years after launching the Google search engine, Page and Brin are still hard at work, creating new and inventive software and hardware that’s increasingly starting to look like something straight out of a sci-fi movie. Smart clothing and hands-free devices may become part of our daily lives in the near future. With Page and Brin leading an army of some of the world’s sharpest minds, a sci-fi future may not be far away.

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