It’s an anniversary that concerns us all, given the place it has taken in our daily lives. The world’s most visited website, Google, celebrated its 25th birthday on Wednesday September 27, but few people are aware that a spelling mistake was behind the birth of the famous search engine.
In 1996, two American Stanford students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, were working on an Internet search engine that would provide rapid access to the most relevant pages on any subject. As there were already almost 10 million of them at the time, it was a rich idea.
As a name for their search engine, they chose BackRub. As their technology began to gain in popularity, Larry Page and Sergey Brin decided that it really needed a more serious name.
“Google” should have been called “Gogol”
During discussions with other students, one of them, Sean Anderson, came up with an idea that appealed to them. He proposed “Gogolplex” as a name, which Larry Page considered reducing to “Gogol”, a word that designates the number “one” followed by a hundred zeros. This number was invented in 1938 by a mathematician, Edward Kasner.
So Larry Page asked Sean Anderson to check if the domain name “Googol.com” was available, so he could reserve it quickly. Except that Sean is better at math than he is at spelling, and gets confused and writes “Google” instead of “Googol”.
After checking that the domain name was available, the world’s most used site was officially registered a few hours later. Today, Google handles 8 and a half billion searches a day.