Year
1998

Google is incorporated

On this day in 1998, search engine firm Google, co-founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who met at Stanford University, files for incorporation in California. Google went on to become the planet’s most-used search engine, and the word “google” entered the lexicon as a verb meaning to search the World Wide Web for information about a person or topic. Google eventually expanded its products and services to include advertising programs, statistical tools, email, maps, a web browser and a mobile operating system. It has become one of the world’s largest tech companies.

In 1996, Page and Brin, then in their early 20s and graduate students in computer science at Stanford, started working on a search engine for the burgeoning web and called it BackRub. In September of the following year, they registered the domain name Google.com. The name is play on “googol,” a term for the numeral 1 followed by 100 zeros; the co-founders thought the moniker was a good way to symbolize their mission of organizing the vast amount of data on the web. In August 1998, Page and Brin received $100,000 from an investor. That same month, prior to leaving for the Burning Man festival in Nevada, the pair added a small drawing to the Google logo to let people know they’d be out of the office; thus launching the Google doodle. (Since then, a wide variety of doodles have appeared on Google homepages to celebrate holidays and other events.) After Google filed for incorporation in September 1998, its first office was in a garage in Menlo Park, California. In February 1999, the startup, which by then had eight employees, relocated to an office in the neighboring city of Palo Alto.

Google opened is first international office, in Tokyo, in 2001. Three years later, more than 800 Google employees moved to a new corporate headquarters, dubbed the Googleplex, in Mountain View, California. Soon after, the company launched an email service, Gmail. Also in 2004, Google held an initial public offering that raised $1.67 billion and valued the company at $23 billion (a decade later, in 2014, Google’s market capitalization was $390 billion). A long string of product roll-outs followed, such as Google Maps and Google Analytics (a service to measure website performance) in 2005; Google Calendar and translation service Google Translate in 2006; a mobile operating system, Android, was announced in 2007 (the first phone built on the system was released a year later); and a web browser, Google Chrome, in 2008. Google also acquired a number of businesses, including YouTube, the video-sharing site, which it snapped up in 2006.

Around 2010, the tech giant established Google X, a secretive lab dedicated to developing groundbreaking, “moonshot” products such as self-driving cars and delivery drones. In 2015, Google restructured its operations—which by then also included a biotech business focused on extending human lifespan; a maker of Internet-connected devices for the home; and a high-speed Internet service, among other ventures—into a conglomerate called Alphabet. At the time, the web search engine that started it all in 1998 continued to dominate the competition, handling more than 3 billion searches a day.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Comedy legend Joan Rivers dies

On this day in 2014, Joan Rivers, one of the best-known comedians of her era, dies at age 81 in a New York City hospital, a week after she went into cardiac arrest while undergoing a medical procedure on her vocal cords at a Manhattan clinic. During a showbiz career that spanned ...read more

Western Roman Empire falls

Romulus Augustus, the last emperor of the Western Roman Empire, is deposed by Odoacer, a German barbarian who proclaims himself king of Italy. Odoacer was a mercenary leader in the Roman imperial army when he launched his mutiny against the young emperor. At Piacenza, he defeated ...read more

Arkansas troops prevent desegregation

Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus enlists the National Guard to prevent nine African American students from entering Central High School in Little Rock. The armed Arkansas militia troops surrounded the school while an angry crowd of some 400 whites jeered, booed, and threatened to ...read more

Geronimo surrenders

On this day in 1886, Apache chief Geronimo surrenders to U.S. government troops. For 30 years, the mighty Native American warrior had battled to protect his tribe’s homeland; however, by 1886 the Apaches were exhausted and hopelessly outnumbered. General Nelson Miles accepted ...read more

The USS Greer is fired upon

On this day in 1940, the American destroyer Greer becomes the first U.S. vessel fired on in the war when a German sub aims a few torpedoes at it, sparking heightened tensions between Germany and the United States. It was a case of mistaken identity. As the ...read more

Japanese surrender on Wake Island

On this day in 1945, 2,200 Japanese soldiers finally lay down their arms-days after their government had already formally capitulated. Wake Island was one of the islands bombed as part of a wider bombing raid that coincided with the attack on Pearl Harbor. In December of 1941, ...read more

Marines in heavy fighting

The U.S. 1st Marine Division launches Operation SWIFT, a search and destroy operation in Quang Nam and Quang Tin Provinces in I Corps Tactical Zone (the region south of the Demilitarized Zone). A fierce four-day battle ensued in the Que Son Valley, 25 miles south of Da Nang. ...read more

Spitz wins 7th gold medal

U.S. swimmer Mark Spitz wins his seventh gold medal at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. Spitz swam the fly leg of the 400-meter medley relay, and his team set a new world-record time of 3 minutes, 48.16 seconds. Remarkably, Spitz also established new world records in the six ...read more

The last American Indian warrior surrenders

For almost 30 years he had fought the whites who invaded his homeland, but Geronimo, the wiliest and most dangerous Apache warrior of his time, finally surrenders in Skeleton Canyon, Arizona, on this day in 1886. Known to the Apache as Goyalkla, or “One Who Yawns,” most ...read more

Historical novelist Mary Renault is born

On this day, Mary Renault, critically acclaimed author of historical novels about ancient civilizations, is born. Born Mary Challans (Renault was a pen name), she was the daughter of a London physician. At age 8, she decided to be a writer. At Oxford, she studied medieval history ...read more

Kelly Clarkson wins first American Idol

On this day in 2002, Kelly Clarkson, a 20-year-old cocktail waitress from Texas, wins Season One of American Idol in a live television broadcast from Hollywood’s Kodak Theater. Clarkson came out on top in the amateur singing contest over 23-year-old runner-up Justin Guarini after ...read more

Tsunami pounds Japanese islands

One of the first tsunamis ever to be recorded devastates the east coast of Kyushu, the southernmost major island of Japan, on this day in 1596. The tsunami was set off by a relatively small earthquake in Beppu Bay on Kyushu’s east coast. Despite its weakness, the quake, which was ...read more

Little Rock becomes a Cold War hotspot

Under orders from the governor of Arkansas, armed National Guardsmen prevent nine African-American students from attending the all-white Central High School in Little Rock. What began as a domestic crisis soon exploded into a Cold War embarrassment. The United States and the ...read more