Happy Birthday Google!

by Dale Wright

Today’s the day to celebrate the search engine that has steered our online lives for more than a decade.

Experts believe that as many as 9 out of every 10 searches are now carried out through Google, which is a phenomenal market share. Google has wiped out or overtaken many of its predecessors including Metafilter, Ask Jeeves, Lycos and Alta Vista. (How many of those bring back fond memories of your first tentative days on the internet?)

Google existed as a prototype for two whole years before it went public. It now substantially outperforms Microsoft’s Bing search engine, which was found to be directly leaching results from Google in February.

Google’s birthday has always been celebrated with a special logo at the top of the search engine. Its birthday logo appeared every year on September 7th, but the domain name wasn’t actually purchased until September 15th, 1998. Google’s birthday is now celebrated on September 27th, a seemingly random date later on in the month.

This year sees Google becoming a teenager, and the picture features the logo – known as the Google Doodle – enjoying a birthday cake topped with 13 candles. It’s a static picture, sadly, although it has a nice 70s twist with the picture holders keeping it in place. Yesterday’s excellent Muppets Google Doodle marked the 75th birthday of Muppets creator Jim Henson.

The latest birthday Doodle joins a whole catalogue of more than 1,000 past Google Doodles, used to mark all kinds of events all over the world. Some are only displayed in the countries that they are most relevant to, such as September 25ths Google.cn logo marking the 130th birthday of XuLun, or September 16th Mexican Independence Day logo. Other logos have marked events as diverse as the Mars Rover landing, Japans annual Marine Day and even the first day back at school.

Take a look at the Google Doodle gallery: which one is your favourite?