Google at 25: A Quarter-Century of Search and Shenanigans

5 Minutes
Chris Kell

Google 25 Doodle

In 1998 I was 23 years old, young, carefree, working in a bar on the beautiful Greek island of Corfu. Life was a breeze, I was carefree, no responsibilities and having the time of my life.

That seems a very long time ago now – coincidentally that was the same Summer David Beckham infamously kicked out at Diego Simeone in the World Cup and was shown a red card.

So, it’s hard to believe that Google was created that same year – before the internet had even really begun to take off. Google is turning 25 years old tomorrow on the 27th September! That’s right, the search engine that has become synonymous with the internet is now old enough to rent a car and complain about back pain. To celebrate this milestone, let’s take a look back at the 25 years since Google was created and the quirky journey it has taken us on.

The Birth of Google

In the summer of 1998, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two Stanford University Ph.D. students, decided they wanted to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible. It was either that or start a lemonade stand, but fortunately for us, they chose the former.

They started in a garage, like all the best tech stories do, and Google was born. But back then, it was just a search engine. No Gmail, no YouTube, no Google Maps, just a simple tool to help you find websites that might have the answers to life’s pressing questions, like “Why is the sky blue?” and “How to make the perfect grilled cheese sandwich?”.

The Evolution of Google

Over the years, Google has evolved and expanded. It has grown from a search engine to a tech giant that offers everything from email to self-driving cars. It’s like that kid from school who went from being the awkward maths whiz to a billionaire tech mogul. We all secretly wish we could do that, don’t we?

Google has also given us some truly bizarre and amusing products. Google Glass, for example, promised to make us look like futuristic cyborgs but ended up making us look like we were trying way too hard to be futuristic cyborgs. And who can forget Google Wave, a product so confusing that even Google couldn’t figure out what it was for? It was like the company hired a bunch of dolphins to design a messaging app.

And, don’t get me started on Google+….. the mere thought of Google+ makes me nauseous.

Google’s Influence on Language

One of the most significant impacts Google has had on our lives is its influence on language. “Just Google it” has become a ubiquitous phrase in our vocabulary. If someone doesn’t know the answer to a question, we don’t tell them to consult a dictionary or encyclopaedia anymore. No, we tell them to Google it, as if Google holds the keys to the universe’s knowledge.

Google has also given us a new verb: googling. We used to search for things on the internet, but now we just Google them. It’s as if Google has become the internet itself. We don’t surf the web anymore; we ride the Google wave.

Google celebrated 25 years by focusing on one young mans search for “how to cut a pineapple”:

The Google Doodles

One of the charming quirks of Google has been its Google Doodles. These are the fun and often interactive variations of the Google logo that appear on the homepage to celebrate holidays, historical events, and famous personalities. Google Doodles have covered everything from Pac-Man games to interactive music compositions, and they never fail to bring a smile to our faces.

Google Doodles

But let’s be honest; there have been times when we’ve all fallen down the Google Doodle rabbit hole. You start by searching for something important, like “How to change a flat tyre,” and you end up spending an hour playing the Google Doodle game celebrating the 30th anniversary of Pac-Man. It’s a classic example of Google’s ability to distract us from our intended tasks.

Google’s Role in Pop Culture

Google has also played a significant role in pop culture. It’s been name-dropped in countless songs, movies, and TV shows. There’s even a verb called “to google” now, which has made its way into our daily conversations. When you think about it, Google is like the friend who’s always there to help you settle debates, find obscure trivia, and prove that your favourite actor did, in fact, make a cameo in that ’90s sitcom.

I mean, who hasn’t Googled actors throughout a film, to check their age when they were in that film?

The Dark Side of Google

Of course, Google isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. There have been controversies, privacy concerns, and questions about the company’s dominance in the tech industry – most recently the speed with which they will cancel / de-monetise mainstream celebrities on YouTube.

And let’s not forget the ever-present fear that Google is listening to our conversations through our devices and serving us ads based on our most embarrassing secrets. They do all seem to be at it though – Isn’t it uncanny how after a chat about mowing the lawn the next day you just happen to see lawnmower adverts on Google and Facebook?

The Future of Google

So, what does the future hold for Google as it enters its 26th year? Well, we can probably expect more innovation, more products we didn’t know we needed, and more privacy scandals. Google will continue to be an integral part of our lives, whether we like it or not.

Google’s 25th birthday is a time to reflect on the incredible journey this company has taken us on. From a humble search engine to a tech giant that permeates every aspect of our lives, Google has had a profound impact on the way we live, work, and procrastinate. Here’s to another 25 years of Google’s quirky antics, its ever-expanding list of products, and its ability to make us laugh and scratch our heads at the same time. Happy 25th, Google! Keep on googling!