by Mark Ollig
Google search engine creators Larry Paige and Sergy Brin created the very first Google doodle.
It was displayed on Google’s homepage Aug. 30, 1998.
Today, Google has more than 53,000 employees, but back in 1998, there were just two employees, Paige and Brin.
They would take the phone call when a user needed an answer to a question, and made the repairs to their Google search engine computer server when it crashed.
Since both were going to be attending the 1998 Burning Man Festival in Nevada, no one would be available to answer the phone or repair any server crashes at their office.
So, they came up with a creative way to let everyone know they would be out of the office on Aug. 30, attending the Burning Man Festival by changing the look of the Google logo design people saw on its homepage.
They made the first Google doodle by inserting a stick figure drawing of a burning man (which was the icon used at the Burning Man Festival) behind the second “o” of the Google logo name to indicate to Google users they were out of the office attending the festival.
The original Google doodle from 1998 can be viewed at http://tinyurl.com/7j3ocvs.
Today, many of us enjoy seeing the new, imaginative doodles Google comes up with when celebrating a special day in history, a famous birthday, a holiday, or popular current event.
Yours truly watched a recently made Computer History Museum video, called “The Art and Technology Behind Google Doodles.”
This video was part of the museums continuing lecture series, and was presented before a nearly room-filled audience.
The special guests were four young people from the Google team who are responsible for creating today’s imaginative and artistic doodles.
John Holler, president and CEO of the Computer History Museum, conducted this lecture and interviewed these Google doodler illustrators.
Ryan Germick, the team leader for Google doodler group, and was asked by Holler how the Google doodle caught on after the Burning Man stick figure logo was first seen.
“Like fire,” Germick jokingly replied, which was followed by an eruption of laughter from the audience.
Germick said the burning man doodle occurred while he was still in college, and was created before Google was even incorporated.
He went on to say how this doodle showed the irreverence and fun which was part of “Google’s DNA,” and that it showed the company’s personality.
“This was the first step in Google humanizing their homepage, and having a personality at the company, and showing that behind this portal to the Internet for so many people, were other real people who had a passion, and were making it happen, and had interests and passions that excite them, and we (Google doodle group) really have been trying to carry on that tradition ever since,” Germick said.
Creating the doodles is “a very democratic and collaborative effort,” which has grown from simple clip art, to illustrations, to where it was being questioned why the doodle had to be just an illustrated image.
“Why can’t it be a photograph or a sculpture?” suggested Germick.
He went to say since Google was a webpage, why couldn’t the doodle be “a video, or a game, or some sort of user interactive experience that takes advantage of all the marvelous things happening in modern web technology.”
The Google doodlers are constantly evolving, as they continue to reach out to users.
Jennifer Hom, who is one of the Google doodlers, said in the beginning they used “a couple of free-lance doodles once in awhile for major holidays, like the Fourth of July.”
She said it moved on from there to having an intern who happened to be an engineer by training.
Google discovered this intern could draw, and so they assigned him the task of doing the doodles for the regular holidays during the winter seasons, and on Valentines Day.
Google “wanted to elaborate a little bit more on what they felt was their style, like how nerdy they were, how artistic they were . . . and that’s when the doodle team started to develop, and started to grow,” Hom said.
“Surprise and delight are kind of like our mantra . . . our cause. We just want to give people a smile on their face for 10 seconds every once and awhile.” Germick said.
There are more than 1,000 Google doodles created since 1998 we can enjoy looking through. We can even play our favorite interactive doodles at http://www.google.com/doodles.
Do you have a great doodle idea? You can email it for Google’s consideration to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To view any of the more than 70 video program lectures the Computer History Museum has produced, visit http://www.youtube.com/computerhistory.