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Google logo history: the freak shows in the early years

Phil Edwards is a senior producer for the Vox video team.

Today, Google unveiled its new logo — a colorful, sans-serif treat that modernizes the logo for a new era in its company history:

Google logo new

The new Google logo.

This version marks a surprisingly long history of the logo's iterations, including some truly horrifying versions that never saw placement on the search giant's iconic homepage.

Google's most horrifying logo rejects

One of Google's early logos

One of Google's early logos.

A look behind the scenes comes courtesy of the Internet Archive, on which Google catalogued its logo history as of December 1998. Housed on a page labeled "stickers," the logo history included small versions of the Google logo for Google lovers' personal use.

All these logos come from before that time, and they include an early version made by founder Sergey Brin with the open source photo-editing program GIMP. There's also a modified version that pays homage to Burning Man:

Burning man Google Logo

The Burning Man Google logo. (Google)

The special "Google Doodles" appeared early on, as well. But rather than being elaborate and animated, they were clip-art-happy disappointments:

Google's pitiful Thanksgiving doodle.

Google's pitiful Thanksgiving doodle.

But it's the really old logos that are most horrifying. Made before Google was officially "Google," they present some truly cringe-worthy alternate versions.

There's this one, which looks like a lost Limp Bizkit album cover:

Google's weird doodle

This doodle makes Google look like an Anarchist's Cookbook search engine. (Google)

This one, which has a haunting pair of peering eyes (not good news for privacy advocates):

Google logo with eyes

One of Google's early drafts had very creepy eyes. (Google)

And this ... interesting one (with a filename of "carlplogo," it may have had a connection to Carl Page, Larry Page's father, or Carl Page Jr., his brother, but it's unknown whether that's truly the case):

Carl P logo

The Carl P logo for Google.

Finally, there's an artifact from when Google was just known as "Backrub," so named because the algorithm counted "backlinks" (the hand in the photo is Larry Page's):

Backrub logo

The Backrub logo. (Google)

You can show that to anyone who complains about the new version.