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Google Begins with a Search Engine Called "BackRub"

1994 to 1996
The first Google computer at Stanford

The first Google computer at Stanford was housed in custom-made enclosures constructed from Lego bricks.

At Stanford University in 1994 Héctor Garcia-Molina and Terry Winograd directed one of the first six National Science Foundation digital library projects. Two of the graduate students supported by this project through a NSF graduate fellowship—Larry Page and Sergey Brin—began to explore using the linkages between web pages as a ranking method. In 1996 they began collaboration at on a search engine called BackRub, named for its unique ability to analyze the "back links" pointing to a given website.

"Larry, who had always enjoyed tinkering with machinery and had gained some notoriety for building a working printer out of Lego™, took on the task of creating a new kind of server environment that used low-end PCs instead of big expensive machines. Afflicted by the perennial shortage of cash common to graduate students everywhere, the pair took to haunting the department's loading docks in hopes of tracking down newly arrived computers that they could borrow for their network."

"Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin developed BackRub, the predecessor to the Google search engine, while working on an early library digitization project at Stanford that was funded in part by the National Science Foundation’s Digital Libraries Initiative. And PageRank, Google’s core search algorithm, which orders sites in search results based on the number of other sites that link to them, is simply a computer scientist’s version of citation analysis, long used to rate the influence of articles in scholarly print journals" Roush, "The Infinite Library Does Google's plan to digitize millions of print books spell the death of libraries; or their rebirth?" (Technology, May 2005,, accessed 03-19-2009).

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