The 21st Anniversary of Google: celebrating two decades of technological evolution

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On September 27, 2019, Google turns 21 years old! Though technically born on September 4, 1998, when the company filed for incorporation, the search engine has changed its mind over the years about the date on which it wishes to celebrate its birthday. For now, Google has chosen to host the festivities on the 27th, and who are we to argue with the biggest website in the world?

A lot has changed since the inception of Larry Page’s and Sergey Brin’s brainchild, and you only have to look to Google itself to see just how much the world has evolved in 21 years. Famously, Page and Brin operated the website out of a garage at the start, with initial funding of $100,000 and a team of only six employees. Fast-forward to today, and the website’s physical headquarters, the “Googleplex,” spans a whopping 190,000m2. With assets of $230 billion, Google currently employs over 100,000 people across the globe, and processes upwards of five billion search requests per day. They grow up fast, don’t they?

As Google has grown, so has the internet – and it can be easy to forget just how rapidly technology has evolved. So, let’s take a trip down memory lane, with a look at some of the key evolutions that have taken place over the course of Google’s lifetime.

When the search engine turned three, in 2001, Wikipedia launched, and the first iPod came out. A year later, Friendster – the website credited with kicking off the cultural juggernaut that is social media – was launched. Meanwhile, Google began to make its way into popular culture, as Buffy the Vampire Slayer became the first television show to use the search engine’s name as a verb in 2002.

In 2004, with a push from Friendster, Mark Zuckerberg and company gave the world Facebook, Google’s largest competitor for internet domination. Gmail, which would go on to become the world’s largest email provider, was also founded in 2004. The following year, Google bought up mobile developers Android Inc., and released their Maps feature – a game-changer for the GPS market. Reddit and YouTube also joined the internet scene in 2005. It took only until 2006 for Google to spot the video-sharing site’s potential and snap it up, in the same year that Jack Dorsey created Twitter.

In 2007, the year of the iPhone,  the first iteration of the now-iconic phone sold one million units in 74 days, while 2009 and 2010 saw the launches of WhatsApp and Instagram, respectively. In 2011, ESET Mobile Security was launched in Google Play Store for Android OS. Facebook purchased the photo-sharing app for $1 billion in 2012, and two years later, it doled out a further $19 billion on WhatsApp. In recent years, Amazon has introduced its virtual assistant, Alexa, and Apple has had great success with the launch of its line of smart watches. In 2019 and beyond, we look to the continued development and rise of AI, and the next phase of connectivity, as 5G networks begin to roll out across the globe.

In the two decades since Google entered the scene, technology has seen exponential evolution and advancement. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect is, not only how much the Internet has changed, but also how it has changed the world around us. Social interactions, business, education, romance, culture, politics – the facets of human life that the Internet has transformed are endless. As Google reaches its 21st anniversary, it is humbling to reflect on how far we have come in just 21 years, and how far we could go in the next 21.