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How a spelling mistake became the “godfather” of Google


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Instead of “google”, we could have corresponding verbs with the first compound “backrub” or “whatbox”. The inspiration for Google is due to a … spelling mistake.

September 15 is the birthday of a word that changed the world: 25 years ago the foundations were laid so that the “googling” to become the new synonym of internet search.

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When Stanford students Larry Page and Sergey Brin started planning to create a search engine in 1996, their initial thought was to call it “Backrub”, which means… massage. Or Hellenistic back massage. However, a few months later, they concluded that a successful search engine needed a catchier name.

For a time, their preferences leaned toward “Whatbox,” according to Silicon Valley journalist Steven Levy and his book on history of google. But at some point Page’s roommate first mentioned the term “Googol”, the mathematical name for 10100 – which Page liked. Page’s roommate is said to have typed in a small misspelling – Google – in the search for available website names. was still available and Page made it his own. The diary read September 15, 1997.

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It took almost a year for Google to be incorporated as a company on September 4, 1998. Its mission? To organize all the world’s information and make it accessible to everyone. The company’s original commitment, which seems to have passed into obscurity, was “Don’t be evil”.

Google’s well-wishers and copyright in conflict

Already during the first years of Google’s operation it became clear that the ambitions of the founders of the company are not just limited to online search. With an eye on the original goal of organizing all the world’s information, electronic bookkeeping began. It was also the first conflict that the founders faced – despite their good intentions: Authors and publishers considered Google’s move to violate their copyrights and took legal action against it. A move that resulted in a slowdown in the progress that the GoogleBooks service initially made.

And the conflicts did not stop there. Major media accused Google that it destroys their businesses with free access to their material. In fact, after the first reactions in Europe, politicians in the USA, from the Republican, but also the Democratic party, have targeted the company because of the unfair competition.

To all of the above are added the fears regarding the protection of personal data. Does Google know more than it should about its users?

DW / Andrei Zokolov (dpa) / Editor: Chrysa Vakhtsevanu

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