Tag Archives: Guide To The Galaxy

The origin of the name Google – where it really comes from

Google LogoHave you ever wondered where Google got its name from. There are some of these companies that have become household names and nobody really considers any more where their names come from – Amazon, Yahoo, et al.

But somebody must have sat down and really thought about it. It is rare that something is materializing out of thin air. Often we get an inspiration from something that passes by – even if only fleeting.

Google, after being known around the world and even becoming a verb now could not possibly admit that its name would not reflect deep thought (pun intended) and consideration, so the official version is that Google comes from the mathematical term “googol”, to equal 10100, a number much larger than even the atoms in this universe.

But here I now have for you the “real source” of the¬† name:

Today I re-read, for the xth time, Douglas Adam’s “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and there it was – plain and simple:

In the story of this (must read) book where the two programmers Lunkwill and Fook talk to the computer Deep Thought the first time after its completion to find out if it will indeed be able to compute an easy answer to all the questions about life, the universe and everything, and this computer classifies itself as only the second most powerful computer in the universe, the following dialog pursues:

“There must be a mistake,” he [Lunkwill] said, “are you not a greater computer than the Millard Gigantubrain at Maximegalon which can count all the atoms in a star in a millisecond?”

“The Millard Gigantubrain?” Said Deep Thought with unconcealed contempt. “A mere abacus – mention it not.”

“And are you not,” said Fook leaning anxiously forward, ” a greater analyst than the Googleplex Star Thinker in the Seventh¬† Galaxy of Light and Ingenuity which can calculate the trajectory of every single dust particle throughout a five-week Dangrabat Beta sand blizzard?”

“A five-week sand blizzard?” said Deep Thought laughingly. “You ask this of me who have contemplated the very vectors of the atoms in the Big Bang itself? Molest me not with this pocket calculator stuff.”

There you have it – modest Google does not (yet) compare itself with Deep Thought.

A little side note that other well know subjects have been inspired by Douglas Adams. Many of you will know the TIFF file format used to store image data. This format is a tagged format and one of the initial tags that identifies the file as a TIFF file has a value of 42 and the official comment was that this value was chosen for the deep meaning of this particular value. The drafters did not quite come out with the full credits for this value which took seven and a half million years to compute, but made this tongue in cheek choice for all those geeks who know TIFF and Douglas Adams.