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From Backrub to Google: The Evolution of a Tech Giant’s Name

In the sprawling landscape of tech giants, few names are as ubiquitous and influential as Google. It’s a name that has become synonymous with internet searches and a wide range of digital services. However, the search engine behemoth didn’t always go by this iconic moniker. In its earliest days, the original name of Google was “Backrub.” Let’s take a journey back in time to explore the fascinating story of how Backrub transformed into Google, and the significance of this transformation.

Backrub’s Genesis

The year was 1996, and two Stanford Ph.D. students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, were busy developing a search engine. This engine was unique in its approach as it focused on ranking web pages by analyzing their backlinks—the links that pointed to a particular webpage from other sites. In essence, it was a system that judged a webpage‘s relevance and authority based on the number and quality of websites linking to it.

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In their pursuit of the perfect name for their fledgling search engine, Page and Brin settled on “Backrub.” It was an unconventional choice, but it reflected the engine’s core function of scrutinizing backlinks. At the time, the internet was still in its infancy, and the concept of web search engines was relatively novel.

The Backrub Years

During its brief stint as “Backrub,” the search engine began to gain traction among tech-savvy users and enthusiasts. It operated on Stanford University’s servers, and its main purpose was to crawl and index web pages, providing users with a tool to search for information on the internet. Despite its academic origins, Backrub showcased incredible potential for revolutionizing the way people accessed information online.

The name “Backrub” may have sounded quirky, but it accurately reflected the engine’s core mission. It was all about analyzing the interconnectedness of web content, using backlinks as the foundation for determining the relevance and authority of web pages. However, as Page and Brin expanded their ambitions and prepared to launch the search engine to a broader audience, they realized that a name change was in order.

The Transformation into Google

The transition from “Backrub” to “Google” was a pivotal moment in the history of the company. The name “Google” is a play on the word “googol,” which represents the number 1 followed by 100 zeros—a nod to the vast amount of information they aimed to organize and make accessible. The name change was a strategic move that aimed to make the search engine more user-friendly and marketable to a broader audience.

On September 15, 1997, the domain name “” was registered, and the search engine officially became “Google.” The name was catchy, easy to remember, and conveyed a sense of infinite possibilities. It was a masterstroke in branding, setting the stage for the company’s rapid growth and success.

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The Impact of the Name Change

The transformation into Google marked the beginning of a new era for Page and Brin’s creation. The simplified name not only made the search engine more approachable but also paved the way for the company to expand its services beyond search. Google quickly became more than just a search engine; it evolved into a technology conglomerate offering a wide range of products and services, including Gmail, Google Maps, Google Drive, and Android.

The impact of the name change extended beyond branding. Google’s user-friendly and efficient search engine rapidly gained popularity and market share, leaving competitors in the dust. Its name became synonymous with internet searches, to the point where “googling” something became a universal term for conducting online research.


The journey from “Backrub” to “Google” is a testament to the power of a well-chosen name in the world of technology and branding. What started as a quirky research project at Stanford University evolved into a global tech giant that influences every aspect of our digital lives.

The original name, “Backrub,” may have been unique and reflective of the engine’s initial purpose, but it was the transformation into “Google” that propelled this search engine to iconic status. The name “Google” symbolizes more than just a search engine; it represents innovation, limitless possibilities, and a commitment to making information accessible to the world. So, the next time you type a query into the Google search bar, remember that it all began with a humble “Backrub.”



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