People baffled by original name Google launched with 25 years ago
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Google is 25 years old today, but did you know that it used to have an absolutely ridiculous name when it first started out?
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?
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.
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 ‘google.com,’ which he found to be available.
“Larry liked the name, and within hours he took the step of registering the name ‘google.com’ for himself and Sergey.”
The rest, as we now know, is history.