No way! Was Google supposed to be called THAT?

Written by Henrik Rothen

Sep.27 - 2023 10:30 PM CET

Photo: Wikipedia Common
Photo: Wikipedia Common
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Google, the tech giant synonymous with internet searches, recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. While the name "Google" has become a part of our daily lexicon, many are surprised to learn that the company's original name was far from what it is today.

Can you imagine asking someone to "BackRub" something for you instead of Googling it?

The BackRub era

According to David Koller from Stanford University, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin initially named their search engine "BackRub."

The name was derived from the engine's ability to analyze 'back links' in text to determine its relevance to a search query. However, by 1997, the founders decided that "BackRub" wasn't going to cut it.

The story of how Google got its name is quite interesting. Sean and Larry were brainstorming names that could relate to indexing a large amount of data. Sean suggested the word 'googolplex,' and Larry responded with the shortened form, 'googol.'

Sean mistakenly searched for the domain name "" instead of "googol," found it available, and the rest is history.

Public reaction

The revelation about Google's original name has left people equally baffled and amused. Comments range from

"Who else is only just finding out it was originally called ‘BackRub’…" to "Back what now?" and "Horrible first name omg."

The name "Google" has become so ingrained in our culture that it's hard to imagine it being called anything else. But the story of its original name, "BackRub," serves as a fascinating glimpse into the company's history and the serendipity involved in its naming.