Happy Googleversary: Google 1998, Google 2008

By  |  Friday, September 5, 2008 at 1:26 pm

The most important company the Web has known to date is turning ten. When, exactly, is up for debate, depending how you do the math–but the blogosphere seems to have decided to mark the anniversary this weekend.

If you want to understand how a venerable Web site has evolved over the years, there’s no better tool than the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, which caches old versions of sites. As with all sites it stores, the Wayback Machine’s record of Google’s history is imperfect–for one thing, many of its stored versions are missing the iconic Google logo. But it’s got some pages that do a good job of capturing Google in its very earliest days.

Wayback’s earliest cached version of Google dates from November 11th. Even by Google standards, it’s got lots of white space and almost no words:

Yup–it gives you a choice between two variant Google prototypes. Here’s the first one, bragging about its index of 25 million pages (today, Google says it knows about one trillion pages on the Web):

And here’s the second one (Wayback’s version carries a 1999 copyright, which probably means the page was cached a few months later):

Both are crude by 2008 standards..but they’re also remarkably close to today’s Google. Here’s what the homepage looks like right now:

Pretty amazing that a site can go from an obscure university research project to one of the most influential, profitable enterprises on the planet with so few changes to the look and feel it greets you with, no? (Boy, do I hope the day never comes when it kills the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button–though I do wonder how many people use it these days.)

I can’t think of another site that existed in 1998 that’s worked so hard not to change its public face. Here, for instance, is what Yahoo looked like at the time Google was launching:

And here’s Yahoo today:

(Current Yahoo actually looks a little more like 1998 Yahoo than Yahoo did for a while, incidentally: At one point, the company moved its logo to the left-hand side of the screen. That just felt wrong, and I’m glad it moved it back.)

Bonus image: Before Google was a company called Google, it was homework: It began as research by Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Stanford. That proto-Google was known as BackRub–and here’s an image of what it looked like, complete with an explanation that the search engine was down due to a network failure:’


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1 Comments For This Post

  1. human3rror Says:

    10 good and long… interesting years.

1 Trackbacks For This Post

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