Google is now officially an adult. The internet giant celebrates its 18th birthday on Tuesday with an animated Doodle shown to web browsers around the world.

The company, founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1998, traditionally marks its birthday on the Google homepage on September 27.

However, not even Google seems to really know when it was formed. Since 2006, it has celebrated its birthday on September 27, but the year before that, had it as September 26.

In 2004, its 6th birthday Doodle went online on September 7 and in the year before that, it was September 8.

In fact, none of these dates seem to have any particular relevance.The company’s own history lists its incorporation date in 1998 – the nearest thing to a corporate birthday – as September 4.

And the idea for Google began years earlier in 1996, as a research project at Stanford University, when Page and Brin had a new idea for a search engine that would rank pages by how many other sites linked to it, rather than the crude format others used at the time – ranking them by how often the search term appeared on the page.

Google alluded to confusion over its birthday in 2013, admitting it had celebrated its birthday on four different dates, but September 27 now seems to have stuck. The company may have just chosen the date because it was what the first birthday Doodle in 2002 used.

Google's 13th birthday Doodle
Google’s 13th birthday Doodle

Google has celebrated its birthday with a Doodle every year since its fourth birthday in 2002. However, the first Doodle, for the Burning Man festival in 1998, actually occurred before the company was technically founded.

Last year, the company split under a new corporate umbrella,Alphabet, which hived off more outlandish divisions of the company such as its driverless cars unit and robotics subsidiary Boston Dynamics. The change saw its founders move away from Google’s day-to-day running.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin in Google's early days
Larry Page and Sergey Brin in Google’s early days CREDIT: AP

18 years after it was founded at Stanford University, Google is one of the world’s most powerful companies. It is second only to Apple in value, with a market capitalisation of $541bn (£417bn).

Page and Brin are ranked 12th and 13th on Forbes’ list of the richest people in the world, with net worths of $35.2bn and $34.4bn respectively.

The history of the Google Doodle

The Google Doodle has become a regular event, where the search engine will changes the logo on its homepage to celebrate holidays and the anniversaries of famous people and events. This is the story behind that tradition.

  • 30 August 1998

    First Google Doodle

    The first Google Doodle is born, as founders Sergei Brin and Larry Page head to the Burning Mandadaist arts festival in the Nevada desert.

    They insert the festival’s stick-man symbol behind the search engine’s logo as a jokey ‘out of office’ message.

  • 2009

    The Doodle team is created

    Chief Doodler Ryan Germick

    The Doodles are produced by a team that currently consists of 10 ‘Doodlers’, four engineers, two producers (and three dogs) led by designer Ryan Germick.

    Based at Google HQ, California, they now produce around 400 Doodles a year, some 12 of which will be fully interactive.

  • 4 January 2010

    First animated Doodle

    Google’s first animated logo comemmorates the birth anniversary of Sir Isaac Newton.

  • 21 May 2010

    First interactive Doodle

    Google’s celebration of Pac Man’s creation becomes so wildly popular that the interactive logo is eventually given its own permanent page.

  • 16 April 2011

    First live-action Doodle

    Google makes a silent movie in celebration of Charlie Chaplin’s 122nd birth anniversary.

  • 9 June 2011

    Most popular Doodle to date

    A playable guitar in celebration of Les Paul’s birthday becomes the most popular Doodle of all time.

    Over 48 hours US users create 5.1 years of music – over 40 million tracks.

  • 2014

    D-Day Doodle blunder

    Google apologises after a Google Doodle honouring a Japanese Go player was uploaded on the 70th anniversary of D-Day in error.

    The picture was later taken down and replaced with a Remembering D-Day link, free from pictures, to the search engine’s Cultural Institute.

    Peter Barron, the search engine’s director of communications, said: “Unfortunately a technical error crept in and for a short period this morning an international doodle also appeared. We’re sorry for the mistake, and we’re proud to honour those who took part in D-Day.”

  • 2016

    90th Anniversary of the first demonstration of Television

    Google celebrates the 90th anniversary of the day “an eccentric Scottish inventor herded a small group of Royal Institution scientists into his London apartment and showed them the future.”

    John Logie Baird, who’d been working on a “televisor” apparatus for much of his career, was the first person to publicly demonstrate the system that would spawn the modern-day television. His discovery sent shockwaves through the scientific community, and certified his legacy as one of the 20th century’s great innovators.

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