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Why Google will remain king of search

5 February 2008 884 supporters 3 Comments

Even with the bid by Microsoft to buy Yahoo, the combined company would be unable to knock Google off its web search and web advertising throne, industry watchers say.

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Early history of google

Google began in January 1996 as a research project by Larry Page, a Ph.D. student at Stanford. In search for a dissertation theme, Page decided to explore the mathematical properties of the World Wide Web, understanding its link structure as a huge graph.His supervisor Terry Winograd agreed and Page focused on the problem of finding out which web pages link to a given page, considering the number and nature of such backlinks to be valuable information about that page (with the role of citations in academic publishing in mind). In his research project, nicknamed “BackRub”, he was soon joined by Sergey Brin, a fellow Stanford Ph.D. student and close friend, whom he had first met in the summer of 1995 in a group of potential new students which Brin had volunteered to show around the campus. Page’s web crawler began exploring the web in March 1996, setting out from Page’s own Stanford home page as its only starting point. To convert the backlink data that it gathered into a measure of importance for a given web page, Brin and Page developed the PageRank algorithm. Analyzing BackRub’s output – which, for a given URL, consisted of a list of backlinks ranked by importance – it occurred to them that a search engine based on PageRank would produce better results than existing techniques (existing search engines at the time essentially ranked results according to how many times the search term appeared on a page). A small search engine called RankDex was already exploring a similar strategy.

Convinced that the pages with the most links to them from other highly relevant Web pages must be the most relevant pages associated with the search, Page and Brin tested their thesis as part of their studies, and laid the foundation for their search engine. Originally the search engine used the Stanford website with the domain google.stanford.edu. The domain google.com was registered on September 15, 1997. They formally incorporated their company, Google Inc., on September 7, 1998 at a friend’s garage in Menlo Park, California.

The name “Google” originated from a misspelling of “googol,” which refers to the number represented by a 1 followed by one-hundred zeros. Having found its way increasingly into everyday language, the verb, “google,” was added to the Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary in 2006, meaning, “to use the Google search engine to obtain information on the Internet.”

By the end of 1998, Google had an index of about 60 million pages. The home page was still marked “alpha test”, but an article in Salon.com already argued that Google’s search results were better than those of competitors like Hotbot or Excite.com, and praised it for being more technologically innovative than the overloaded portal sites (like Yahoo!, Excite.com, Lycos, Netscape’s Netcenter, AOL.com, Go.com and MSN.com) which at that time, during the growing dot-com bubble, were seen as “the future of the Web”, especially by stock market investors.

In March 1999, the company moved into offices at 165 University Avenue in Palo Alto, home to several other noted Silicon Valley technology startups. After quickly outgrowing two other sites, the company leased a complex of buildings in Mountain View at 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway from Silicon Graphics (SGI) in 1999. The company has remained at this location ever since, and the complex has since become known as the Googleplex (a play on the word googolplex, a 1 followed by a googol of zeros). In 2006, Google bought the property from SGI for $319 million.

The Google search engine attracted a loyal following among the growing number of Internet users, who liked its simple design. In 2000, Google began selling advertisements associated with search keywords. The ads were text-based to maintain an uncluttered page design and to maximize page loading speed. Keywords were sold based on a combination of price bid and clickthroughs, with bidding starting at $.05 per click. This model of selling keyword advertising was pioneered by Goto.com (later renamed Overture Services, before being acquired by Yahoo! and rebranded as Yahoo! Search Marketing). While many of its dot-com rivals failed in the new Internet marketplace, Google quietly rose in stature while generating revenue.

A patent describing part of Google’s ranking mechanism (PageRank) was granted on September 4, 2001.The patent was officially assigned to Stanford University and lists Lawrence Page as the inventor.

Google’s declared code of conduct is “Don’t be evil”, a phrase which they went so far as to include in their prospectus (aka “red herring” or “S-1”) for their IPO, noting, “We believe strongly that in the long term, we will be better served — as shareholders and in all other ways — by a company that does good things for the world even if we forgo some short term gains.”

The Google site often includes humorous features such as cartoon modifications of the Google logo to recognize special occasions and anniversaries.Known as “Google Doodles”, most have been drawn by Google’s international webmaster, Dennis Hwang.Not only may decorative drawings be attached to the logo, but the font design may also mimic a fictional or humorous language such as Star Trek Klingon and Leet.The logo is also notorious among web users for April Fool’s Day tie-ins and jokes about the company.




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