To make sure you never miss out on your favourite NEW stories, we're happy to send you some reminders

Click 'OK' then 'Allow' to enable notifications

Not now

People baffled by original name Google launched with 25 years ago

Tom Wood

| Last updated 

People baffled by original name Google launched with 25 years ago

Featured Image Credit: Chesnot/Getty Images/Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Google is 25 years old today, but did you know that it used to have an absolutely ridiculous name when it first started out?

OK, Google is a bit of a silly name as well, but it’s now become so synonymous with the idea of internet search engines that it has become part of our everyday vocabulary.

You don’t search something on the internet anymore, you ‘Google’ it.


You don’t sarcastically tell people ‘let me look that up for you’, it’s ‘let me Google that for you’.

Can you imagine a world without Google?

Well, for those of us older than 25, it’s a very real world that we used to inhabit.

If you didn’t know something, you just had to deal with the fact that you didn’t know it, or look it up in – shudder – a book.


Then, along with now-forgotten search engines like Ask Jeeves, Lycos, and AltaVista, we started to be able to get answers at our fingertips, provided we had a computer that could access the internet, and no-one was using the phone.

Anyway, we’ve rambled a bit there, but it was a different time, get it?

Google is now one of the most recognisable brands in the world. Credit: SOPA Images/Getty
Google is now one of the most recognisable brands in the world. Credit: SOPA Images/Getty

As Google turns 25 today, it’s worth remembering that the ubiquitous name that we’ve all come to know and use as both noun and verb wasn’t always going to be that.


It was originally going to be called BackRub.

Imagine that – ‘can you just BackRub where the nearest shop is?’

‘Oh, I’ll just check BackRub Maps’.

No, it just doesn’t sound right, does it?


However, according to Stanford University’s David Koller, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin started out with that name.

That’s because the website analysed ‘back links’ in text to work out how relevant it was to the search, therefore deciding on search ranking.

Koller said: "In 1996, Larry Page and Sergey Brin called their initial search engine BackRub, named for its analysis of the web's ‘back links.’”

Apparently, it was only a fleeting notion, and by 1997 they’d decided that it wasn’t going to work.


Still, even Google’s own website backs up that claim.

People who are just discovering this are equally as baffled.

One person commented: "Who else is only just finding out it was originally called ‘BackRub’…"

Another said: "Back what now?"

A third said: "Horrible first name omg."

However, the story of how they eventually settled on a name is quite serendipitous, really.

'Let me just BackRub that for you...' Credit: SOPA Images/Getty
'Let me just BackRub that for you...' Credit: SOPA Images/Getty

Koller explained: “Sean and Larry were in their office, using the whiteboard, trying to think up a good name - something that related to the indexing of an immense amount of data. Sean verbally suggested the word ‘googolplex,’ and Larry responded verbally with the shortened form, ‘googol’ (both words refer to specific large numbers).

“Sean was seated at his computer terminal, so he executed a search of the internet domain name registry database to see if the newly suggested name was still available for registration and use.

“Sean is not an infallible speller, and he made the mistake of searching for the name spelled as ‘,’ which he found to be available.

“Larry liked the name, and within hours he took the step of registering the name ‘’ for himself and Sergey.”

The rest, as we now know, is history.

Topics: Technology, Google, Weird

Tom Wood
More like this

Chosen for YouChosen for You


Man explains why he spent $175,000 on ‘most painful’ leg lengthening surgery to grow six inches

22 minutes ago

Most Read StoriesMost Read

People left disturbed after seeing how crabsticks are made and they never want to eat them again

19 hours ago