Science & Tech

People are just learning Google's original name

Celebrating Google's 25th Birthday
Cheddar / VideoElephant

A world without Google would almost be akin to a world without water or air.

Indeed, the internet behemoth’s power is so great that it’s even become its own verb.

And sure, there are other search engines, but when have you ever heard someone say: “Let me just Bing that”?

Yet, it turns out the iconic tech company could have had a very different fate had it stuck to its original name.

That’s right, Google hasn’t always been Google. And at its inception back in 1996, it had a somewhat more risqué title.

It was called… BackRub.

Yep, BackRub.

According to Standford University computer scientist David Koller, who wrote about the brand’s genesis back in 2004, founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin came up with the search engine's first name as a nod to its analysis of the web’s “back links”.

Page (right) and Brin (left) back in 2004 Getty Images

However, a year after BackRub was born, Page and his officemates – including fellow graduate students Sean Anderson, Tamara Munzner, and Lucas Pereira – discussed a number of possible alternatives to the massage-evoking moniker.

According to Koller, the final, fateful brainstorming session occurred one day in September of that year.

“Sean and Larry were in their office, using the whiteboard, trying to think up a good name - something that related to the indexing of an immense amount of data,” he recalled.

“Sean verbally suggested the word ‘googolplex,’, and Larry responded verbally with the shortened form, ‘googol’ (both words refer to specific large numbers)."

Anderson then searched the Internet domain name registry database to see if the newly suggested name was still available to use.

But, since “Sean is not an infallible speller”, “he made the mistake of searching for the name spelt as ‘,’ which he found to be available,” Koller continued.

“Larry liked the name, and within hours he took the step of registering the name ‘’ for himself and Sergey.”

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Sill, 25 years on from that simple domain name registration that would go on to change the world, people have shared their bewilderment that “BackRub” could have become a household name.

“I could die without knowing that this was Google's old name,” one X/Twitter user commented .

“What were they smoking back in 90s??” asked another.

Meanwhile, a third responded with what we’re all now thinking: “Tbh I need a backrub.”

At least the tech titans can now give themselves a pat on the back for a job well done with “Google”.

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