There’s a glimpse of how the first Google home page looked here – it’s quite comic, particularly notes like: “Google is research in progress and there are only a few of us so expect some downtimes and malfunctions.”
Other interesting things to note are that there are ‘only’ around 25 million pages indexed in that early version. By way of comparison, the last known official figure for the size of Google’s index was 8.2 billion. That was what Google had said until September last year, when it removed that figure from its pages after Yahoo had claimed the biggest index, with 19.2 billion pages.
Since then Google has stayed mum on the total number of pages in its index, though if you Google for the word ‘the’ you get 23.8 billion hits, so it’s a bit bigger than 8 billion these days. Anyway, both search engine giants note that index size is not the most important factor in effective ‘search enginery’. In fact a while back I wrote a daft blog about index sizes and the relative effectiveness of Google, Yahoo and MSN searches at finding Britney Spears pics and the like here.
Other interesting things to note about the original Google home page: Google was initially called Backrub; if no documents matched your search then it returned 20,000 random pages; and the index ‘contains only a very limited number of international pages because we do not want to congest busy international links’.
You’ll also see over at the page describing the hardware that ran the first version of Google that inventors Sergey Brin and Larry Page were just as zany back then as you would expect – look at their homemade disk box that is held together with Lego.
Another thing that struck me about that original Google home page was that in fact, not all that much has changed if you compare it to Google today. Sure the logo is slightly different, but it still consists of the word Google with multi-coloured letters, like it does today. They also use a white background colour as they do today, and they avoid any graphics on the home page as they have to this day to make the page load as fast as possible.
If you like looking at early versions of web sites you may also like this page, where the so-called Wayback Machine enables you to find an old version of most sites. It’s quite scary to see how poorly designed some of the early websites were, but you’ll see what I mean if you try it. Oh and of course it’s also got a cache of another early Google page – the Google beta site, which looks closer to the Google of today. Googletastic.