For its 15th birthday, Google is throwing itself a loving party, a nostalgic trip down memory-of-itself lane, a celebration of its rise from humble search David to search Goliath. And we’re all invited. Go to Google.com, type in “Google in 1998″ and hit the search button. What do you see? We see little baby Google, its logo all Sesame Street-looking, a list of search results for Web pages that mention Google, and (perhaps most nostalgically of all) not much else in the way of whistles and bells.
The resulting pages from the year 1998, all of which are supported by the Internet Archive a.k.a. the Wayback Machine, include quaint instructions for using the brand-new Google search engine, the concept of “feeling lucky” (technically speaking), a noticably streamlined Google Help Page, and of course the Google homepage itself. Unfortunately you can’t explore the larger online environment through old-timey Google much further than that, as the Wayback Machine doesn’t archive most of Google’s index files from that era.
As avid readers of tech blogs like SlashGear are well aware, Google routinely creates such “Easter Eggs” for its users as a way to give the Internet Leviathan a more playful, less “Don’t not be evil” image. Frankly, it works. We’re suckers for Easter Eggs like “do a barrel roll”, “tilt”, and “festivus”. Try those searches for fun and just try to tell us that’s not entertaining.
Google’s more serious recent innovations on the week of its 15-year anniversary include Hummingbird, which improves results for complex natural language, and OK Google, a hands-off voice search system for iOS — the two of which are being coordinated to build on one another’s usefulness.