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Google celebrates its 25th anniversary with a history of how its search engine works

By Liu Hongzuo - on 27 Sep 2023, 1:37pm

Google celebrates its 25th anniversary with a history of how its search engine works

Google celebrates 25th anniversary.

Google celebrated its 25th anniversary recently (4 September), with today (27 September) marking its many years of running Google Search.

To commemorate how far the search engine has come, the company put together a timeline that showcased all the huge milestones that affect how everyday users look for the things they need, online.

We’ve selected some interesting points of Google Search’s history below.

2001 — Google Images and “Did you mean?”

That's quite a dress that leaves much and little to the imagination at the same time.

According to Google, the year 2000 saw Jennifer Lopez topping search results, but most were directed at her appearance during the Grammy Awards in what Google calls a “daring” Versace dress. 

Back then, search results were links to webpages, and it inspired the Google team to create Google Images in 2001 for users to locate what they need based on how it looks.

The same year saw the launch of “Did you mean?”, which predates autocorrect features on smartphones you see today. “Did you mean?” was an early example of machine learning where Google predicted the users’ search intent despite spelling errors. This feature has since evolved to accommodate even weird spelling errors you get when typing on a phone.

2002 — Google News

Google News was a feature born out of tragedy. In 2001’s September 11 terrorist attacks, Google saw how the world struggled to find news about the incident. This prompted Google to create Google News, which promotes links to stories or news containing diverse sources.

2004 — Autocomplete

Google Autocomplete in action.

Initially launched as Google Suggest, the Autocomplete function (drop-down menu of suggestions when you start typing in Search) has since evolved to work on PC, Android, and iOS. Google said Autocomplete reduces typing by 25% and saves 200 years of typing time daily.

2006 — Google Translate and Google Trends

Google was tinkering with machine translation as early as 2002, but 2006 was when Google implemented Google Translate. It first showcased translation between Arabic and English. Today, it supports 100 languages, adding a whopping 24 just last year

Google Trends also appeared in the same year, being an example of a publicly accessible dataset that eventually became an important tool for journalists, policymakers, or even certain consumer businesses to learn the appetites of its audiences. The invention of Google Trends also led to Google’s annual Year in Search announcements.

2011 — Search by Image

Instead of searching through descriptions or words, Google enabled Search by Image for users to upload pictures or image URLs to find similar content. Search by Image was instrumental to the development of Google Lens.

2019 — BERT 

BERT in action for Google Search. Image from our Google I/O 2021 coverage.

Google’s Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT) is a language-understanding AI model that drastically changes Search functions. BERT allowed Google to understand search results based on the full context of the word, simply by understanding how language works. BERT has been applied to 70 languages thus far.

2020 — Shopping Graph and Hum to Search

Shopping Graph is an AI-powered dataset that houses 35 billion product listings from retailers or brands, helping both businesses and its buyers narrow down what they really want to buy online.

Hum to Search is more whimsical than online shopping superpowers — this feature identifies a song that’s matched to — you guessed it — your humming.

2022 — Multisearch

Google's Multisearch feature.

Multisearch combines two core search methods: text and images. Google gave the example of searching for a matching coffee table for your dining set by photographing the latter and search coffee table. Multisearch was initially launched for the U.S. market before being available globally on mobile, and it’s supported in all places where Google Lens works.

Source: Google (blog)

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