Nine Algorithms That Changed the Future: The Ingenious Ideas That Drive Today's Computers

By John Maccormick | Go to book overview

3
PageRank: The Technology That
Launched Google

The Star Trek computer doesn’t seem that interesting. They ask it
random questions, it thinks for a while. I think we can do better
than that.

—LARRY PAGE (Google cofounder)

Architecturally speaking, the garage is typically a humble entity. But in Silicon Valley, garages have a special entrepreneurial significance: many of the great Silicon Valley technology companies were born, or at least incubated, in a garage. This is not a trend that began in the dot-com boom of the 1990s. Over 50 years earlier—in 1939, with the world economy still reeling from the Great Depression— Hewlett-Packard got underway in Dave Hewlett’s garage in Palo Alto, California. Several decades after that, in 1976, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak operated out of Jobs’ garage in Los Altos, California, after founding their now-legendary Apple computer company. (Although popular lore has it that Apple was founded in the garage, Jobs and Wozniak actually worked out of a bedroom at first. They soon ran out of space and moved into the garage.) But perhaps even more remarkable than the HP and Apple success stories is the launch of a search engine called Google, which operated out of a garage in Menlo Park, California, when first incorporated as a company in September 1998.

By that time, Google had in fact already been running its web search service for well over a year—initially from servers at Stanford University, where both of the cofounders were Ph.D. students. It wasn’t until the bandwidth requirements of the increasingly popular service became too much for Stanford that the two students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, moved the operation into the now-famous Menlo Park garage. They must have been doing something right,

-24-

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