1It’s Google.com’s 15th birthday this weekend - the now-famous domain name was first registered on September 15, 1997 (although Google wouldn’t officially exist as a company until almost a year later). We celebrate its birthday with 15 unusual facts you might not know about the search giant.
2Google wasn’t always called Google. Before founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page chose the name Google, the search engine - a project the two began while graduate students at Stanford University - was known as ‘BackRub’.
3Among the many languages Google’s services are offered in is fictional Star Trek language Klingon.
4While another language is that of the ‘Swedish Chef’ character from The Muppet Show. (Swedish Chef was introduced as a language option in 2001; Klingon first appeared in 2002.)
5Speaking of chefs, Google has long been legendary for the quality of food served in its offices. Google hired their first company chef back in 1999, when they had just 40 employees - the chef they hired, Charlie Ayers, had previously been the personal chef for rock band The Grateful Dead.
6Having The Grateful Dead’s chef isn’t Google’s only musical connection. In 2008, the company collaborated with Radiohead on the band’s music video for ‘House of Cards’ - which was created without using any cameras, just data scanned with lasers.
7For the first few years of its existence, Google’s famous logo had an extra character - a Yahoo!-style exclamation mark. (And, as you can see above, the Google logo wasn’t properly centred on the page; it skews slightly to the left. This wasn’t fixed until 2001.)
8The famous tradition of the Google Doodle - the creative alteration of the company’s logo - originated in 1998, when founders Page and Brin wanted a way to let users know that they weren’t in the office, because they’d gone to the Burning Man festival in Nevada. So they drew a little picture of a burning man behind the logo.
9Google’s first ever storage - from the days when it was still called BackRub - was made out of ten 4GB hard disks, all contained in a storage case made out of... LEGO. Ever since that day, Google has had a fondness for the small plastic bricks, as the above picture of the Google logo made entirely out of LEGO bricks, at the company’s Mountain View headquarters
10Google has its own herd of goats - rented from a local goat-hire firm - whose job is to replace lawn mowers at their headquarters.
11Google now owns the garage that, famously, they rented as their first office. The home the garage was attached to, at 232 Santa Margarita, Menlo Park, belonged to Susan Wojcicki - who didn’t work for Google at the time, but is now a senior vice president at the company (and her sister is married to Sergey Brin). Google bought both the house and the garage from Wojcicki in 2006.
12Google’s famous ‘I’m Feeling Lucky’ button - which takes you straight to the first result - is only used by around 1% of searchers. But the company haven’t removed it (despite the fact that they don’t get to show ads whenever people do use it, losing them money) because, apparently, it makes users feel comfortable... even if they don’t use it
13Google’s self-driving cars have, since March 2012, been legally allowed to drive on roads in Nevada, USA (although they have to have someone sitting behind the wheel.) Above is a picture of one of the cars driving itself around Las Vegas.
14The verb ‘to google’ was officially added to the Oxford English Dictionary in June 2006.
15Among the objects you’ll find in the grounds of Google’s Mountain View headquarters are a full-sized Tryannosaurus rex skeleton and a full-sized model of SpaceShipOne, the spaceplane that completed the first manned private space flight in 2004. (Google also sponsors a multi-million dollar prize for the first company to manage a private moon landing.)