NEW YORK (AFP) –
Born 10 years ago, the Google Internet search engine has grown into the electronic center of human knowledge by indexing billions of web pages as well as images, books and videos.
On September 15, 1997 Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two 24 year-old Stanford University students, registered the domain name of " google.com." The word is a variation of ‘googol,’ which refers to the number 10 to the power of 100, a term popularized by US mathematician Edward Kasner.
Page and Brin incorporated Google one year later, on September 7, 1998, in a household garage in northern California.
News of Google spread largely thanks to the efficient way the search engine classified results through algorithms, and it quickly became one of the most used methods to find information on the Internet.
From the beginning Page and Brin considered their role as global Internet researchers was crucial.
"We thought research was really important," said Sergey in a recent interview. "The other search engines stopped research on search. They thought that ‘if our search engine is only 85 percent as good as the next guy, it’s good enough for us.’"
To search for Internet documents it is necessary to permanently contact each site and memorize its pages, a colossal task for the Google data bank, which is constantly renewed, allowing the users to search for key words. Google needs several weeks to troll the Internet and renew its data bank.
Soon after its launch this search engine became a motor that "absorbed" web pages across the Internet, at a rate of billions per day.
Google has become the most popular Internet search engine in the world outside of China, Japan and Russia, handling more than 500 million visits a day.
In 2000 Google began to sell ads linked to key words. At the time, as the dot-com bubble was bursting and scores of web-based operations were declaring bankruptcy, Google was making a healthy profit.
When Google went public in August 2004 its shared initially sold at 85 dollars. Today its shares are valued at 525 dollars, and Google has a stock market value worth some 164 billion dollars.
In 2006 Google reached 13.4 billion dollars in revenue — the third part based on Internet ads — and profits of 3.7 billion dollars.
In the past years Google has expanded at a breakneck pace, and currently has some 13,700 employees. The company thrives on a culture of innovation: the best example is that it asks employees to dedicate 20 percent of their time to develop ideas for the company.
Page and Brin, now in their mid 30s, each have some 16 billion dollars in personal wealth.
In 2006 Google bought YouTube, the largest and most popular video exchange website, and soon after bought DoubleClick, one of the Internet’s most powerful ad services.
Google also launched free e-mail — Gmail — as well as a word processing program, picture editing programs and a calender that competes directly with products from software giant Microsoft.
Despite the company motto of "Don’t be Evil," it seems that the Google’s ubiquitous presence increasingly generates hostility. Both Google and YouTube have been sued by media groups that charge that they have stolen content.
Its ads are directed at a very specific public based on their Internet searches.
Google’s photographing of city streets has also been criticized, but also admired and widely used.
The human rights group Privacy International is lukewarm on Google’s respect for private data. "At it most blatant it is hostile, and at its most benign is ambivalent," the group said.