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The Horrible Name that Google Was ALMOST Called—And How They Came up with Google Instead

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Google is a large tech company headquartered in Mountain View, California. Their primary product is the world’s most popular search engine, and you can access the Google search engine by typing in “google.com.”

Ha!

You didn’t REALLY think I was going to be defining Google, did you?

No, I trust that you have been on the Internet once or twice in the past decade and are aware of the Google.

At this point, the question you’re more likely to be asking than “what is Google” is “what does Google mean?” Which is why I want to talk about how Google got its name. You know, that silly made up word that has now taken its rightful place in the Oxford English Dictionary (right after goog—Australian slang for an egg).

What Google was Originally Called

Back sometime in the late ’90s, Larry Page and Sergey Brin were two graduate students at Stanford. They had been working on a search engine and had given it the name BackRub. You know, because their search engine searched through backlinks…right.

Fortunately, they were smart enough to realize that BackRub was the worst tech company name in the history of tech companies, and that they needed to find something a little more appropriate.

Then There Was Googol(plex)

During yet another name brainstorming session, their friend Sean, a fellow graduate student, suggested the word googolplex.

Yes, when you ask the question, “what does Google mean,” it turns out that Google is a misspelling of a real-life mathematical term, googol.

Googolplex is the name for 10 to the power of googol. Googol is the name used by mathematicians to reference 10 to the power of 100, or:

10,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000

That’s 1 plus 100 zeros.

The name googol and googolplex were originally coined by Milton Sirotta, nephew of Edward Kasner a famous American mathematician. As Milton put it, googolplex was shorthand for a number that was otherwise so large you would have to write “one, followed by writing zeroes until you get tired.” Of course, his uncle found this definition to not be quite specific enough, afterall “different people get tired at different times and it would never do to have Carnera [a famous boxer of the time] be a better mathematician than Dr. Einstein, simply because he had more endurance and could write for longer!” So he gave googolplex the official definition of being 10 to the power of googol, or 10 to the power of 10 to the power of 100.

And Then…Someone Didn’t Spellcheck

When Sean suggested googolplex, Larry responded that he liked the smaller term googol, but felt like the term in general was a great fit for what they were trying to do: index an unfathomable number of Internet web pages.

Sean, not realizing googol was spelled with an ol at the end, searched the Internet to see if the domain google.com was available.

Larry liked the new word Sean had accidentally come up with, and voila! Google was named. And now you have the answer the next time you hear someone else wondering, “what does Google mean.”

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23 comments

  1. furtdso linopv Replied

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  2. Ninfa Richter Replied

    thanks for sharing this information.have shared this link with others keep posting such information..

  3. Grady Amano Replied

    thanks for sharing this information.have shared this link with others keep posting such information….

  4. Kyle Jamwant Replied

    thanks for sharing this information.have shared this link with others keep posting such information….

  5. Ayush Pandey Replied

    Guess they didn’t have Google to search the correct spelling.

  6. Spring Lopus Replied

    thanks for sharing this information.have shared this link with others keep posting such information..

  7. Grisel Zindell Replied

    thanks for sharing this information.have shared this link with others keep posting such information..

  8. Howard Webb Replied

    I liked the story of how the name Google came about. Just goes to show you that all mistakes aren’t that bad. Funny story indeed. I’m going to share it with my friends. And thanks for inventing it, it is probably the most important invention of my time.

  9. Kati Waack Replied

    Thanks for sharing this information..have shared this link with others keep posting such information..

  10. Joshua Replied

    I used the Google to find this article about the Google.

  11. vusumzi matama Replied

    Share your thoughts…i like the way the name google came about.thank you to the two men

  12. A smart person Replied

    Well, actually, google was wrong, they meant to spell “Googol” which is actually a number with 100 digits exactly.  So instead of googol, they ended up with “Google”: Most embarrassing mistake I know.

    • Cosmic Rhapsody Replied

      Speaking of getting it wrong, a Googol is 101 digits exactly i.e. a number followed by 100 0’s

      • Emily hughes Replied

        I thnk your right well done

  13. zach Replied

    that must be the worst name i have heard of. it makes me think of some old dude getting a massage yuk.

  14. Goodguy84 Replied

    Wow! sometimes it can be a pain to come up with the perfect name, and amazing that coming up with names, usually happens when your not thinking of names… 

  15. NayRansome Replied

    Amazing how one simple mistake can turn into the best thing since….well….the internet.

  16. Shannon Crabill Replied

    Proof that it pays to think twice about a name ;)

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