Before Google

August 5th, 2010

On a whim today I tried to figure out what the oldest pages are on the internet that mention the names of Google’s founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page. In particular, I wanted to find out what information Google’s founders left on the internet before they had the notion to index it all.

This pursuit was of course assisted by Google itself. It has a nifty advanced search feature where you can specify a date range for the results. Unfortunately the algorithm for assigning dates to pages seems really buggy, and you end up with a lot of false positives for the date range you specify. For example, Google was being talked about in 1973?


I was able to find some interesting newsgroup postings from Sergey in 1994. On August 18, 1994, he sought advice about booking air travel from San Francisco to Baltimore. In 2010, this conversation would almost certainly not happen, as any number of powerful airfare search engines crunch the numbers and compare rates across carriers, dates, and airports.

But even more interesting to me is a math question posed in 1994 about the Karhunen-Loeve theorem:


I ran across a reference to a Karhunen-Loeve transform in a paper I was reading and from the brief mention it seems that it is relevant to my research.  However, there is no pointer to where I could find more information.

Could someone let me know what a good reference for the Karhunen-Loeve transform would be?


Today you just type “Karhunen-Loeve” into Google to get the answer.

3 Responses to “Before Google”

  1. Erik Says:

    “After all these years… I will never have to solicit air transportation advice again!” – Sergey Brin, when asked why Google announced their plans to acquire ITA Software earlier this summer.

  2. Conor Says:

    Or “Today you just type things into Wikipedia to get the answer”. The “I’m Feeling Lucky” button on Google front page is almost a “Wikipedia” button.

  3. David Leppik Says:

    As far as I can tell, the date search gives you pages referring to that date. I suspect that’s the intended behavior. A classic case of an ambiguous UI which means one thing to the developers and a completely different thing to the users.

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