[Craig] Silverstein, now director of technology, explains that, from the earliest days, Brin and Page envisaged a super-connected computer. "The vision of search has always been broader than has been portrayed in the press," he says. (...) He recalls one example that shows that Brin and Page imagined that one day even the smallest "stuff" would be online. "When we were doing the first research, we used to eat in Whole Foods [an organic supermarket chain]. We talked about using search to find out what aisle the salt is on. Instead of having to look at the big signs at the top of each aisle, you could use a search engine to tell you where in the store everything is, and maybe graph it out for you."
Brin and Page were obsessed with recording, categorising and indexing anything and everything, and then making it available to anyone with internet access because they genuinely believed - and still do - that it is a morally good thing to do. It may sound hopelessly hippie-ish and wildly hypocritical coming from a couple of guys worth £10 billion each, but Brin and Page insist they are not, and never have been, in it for the money. They see themselves as latter-day explorers, mapping human knowledge so that others can find trade routes in the new information economy.
From a garage to the globe
1997 Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two 24-year-old Stanford University computer- science graduate students, register the domain name ‘google.com’. The word ‘google’ is an accidental misspelling of ‘googol’, which refers to the number 10 to the power of 100 (or 1 followed by 100 zeros)
1998 Google becomes a private company and ‘launches’ on the worldwide web. Its headquarters are based in a garage in Menlo Park, northern California
2000 Google begins to sell ads linked to key search words
2001- 2 Advertising revenue and deep-pocketed venture capitalists help Google to ride out the dotcom crash
2003 Google expands rapidly, driving internet use and threatening industries as varied as music, newspapers, television, advertising, telephones, travel and pornography
2004 Google floats on the Nasdaq. Its shares initially sell for £40. Today they fetch more than £300, valuing the company at almost £100 billion
2006 Google buys YouTube, the largest and most popular video-exchange website
2007 Google announces its £1.5 billion plan to buy DoubleClick, the leading display-advertising business that also tracks web-users’ search behaviour