Google’s 14th birthday: 14 years to a cultural phenomenon


Happy Birthday, Google! Has it been 14 years already?

Indeed it has been. In the time it would take to raise a teenager with a mouthful of braces, Google has managed to single-handedly transform our culture. We use it to research our business competitors, settle bar bets, bookmark recipes, check our email, plot driving routes, see if we can find our own front door on Google Maps, flip through images of Justin Bieber or set up alerts for the latest Kim Kardashian news. And so much more.

In addition to spinning off myriad other Internet-related ventures -- say, the driverless car -- the Mountain View-based company has also helped redefine business culture, even the definition of success.

Who hasn’t flipped through a photo gallery of the Googleplex and wondered, “Why don’t I work at a business where I can play pool, or swim in a pool?” And how about the company’s mission statement to end all mission statements? “Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”


There have been growing pains, of course.

Google has been accused by some of being a less-than-model citizen. And there are long-standing privacy concerns that Google has become a little too all-knowing for some tastes. (In yet one more sign of just how Google-saturated our society has become, such concerns led to this one-liner in an episode of “The Simpsons”: “I for one welcome our Google overlords.”)

But the reality is, most average, everyday people (read: those who do not work in the tech world, or the media) probably believe that Google has added something to their lives in the 14 years since it was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

Pinpointing Google’s actual birthday has been something of a parlor game over the years. There have been many key moments in the company’s history. Google started in 1996 as a search engine with the unusual-sounding name of “BackRub.” (Thank goodness that was changed.) By that benchmark, the company would be a 16-year-old asking for the keys to the car.

Google’s own company page says the company was founded in 1998 and incorporated Sept. 4, 1998.

But it’s today -- Sept. 27 -- on which Google is celebrating its 14th birthday, offering up a slice of digital cake. The cake, adorned with 14 candles, takes the form of what has become one of the most enduring hallmarks of Google’s cultural relevancy: a Google Doodle.

Happy 14th birthday, Google!



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