Today, Google celebrates its 18th birthday — though not even Google knows if this is quite accurate, seeing how it’s celebrated the occasion on various days throughout September since the company officially filed for incorporation in 1998.
In fact, for Google’s 15th birthday in 2013, the company admitted point blank that it wasn’t sure when it should set its official anniversary, and that it had celebrated the day on September 7, 8, and 26.
The company officially adopted the 27th as its birthday in 2005, announcing its hugely expanded web search index that was fully a thousand times bigger than when Google first started. And hey, if you had the chance to change your birthday to a day when you actually achieved something more than just existing, wouldn’t you be tempted to go for it?
If you really want to get semantic about Google’s birthday, you could go back even further to 1996, when co-founders and Stanford students Larry Page and Sergey Brin started collaborating on a search engine they called “BackRub.com,” which should make you exceedingly grateful for the seemingly nonsense name of “Google.”
But no, “Google” isn’t actually nonsense; Page and Brin eventually changed the name to reflect the numerical value “googol,” or the numeral 1 plus 100 zeros.
In any case, today’s Doodle — designed by German artist Gerben Steenks — celebrates Google’s birthday with some festive balloon art and the promise of yet more world domination to come.
(Hilarious fun fact: The first Google Doodle actually predates Google’s first official birthday, because Page and Brin put up a graphic on the homepage on August 30, 1998, to inform the masses that they would be temporarily unavailable, because they were headed into the desert for the Burning Man festival.)
Since Page and Brin started hogging Stanford’s bandwidth in 1996, the company’s grown to include over 54,000 employees worldwide and a net worth consistently hovering around half a trillion dollars.
So if you’re sitting on a project you’re not 100 percent sure about, remember: The founders of Google started in a dirty dorm room with “BackRub.com.” Truly, anything is possible.