Sept. 27, 2013 — -- It was 1998. Bill Clinton was president. "Titanitc" had hit theaters and won 11 Oscars, and a small web search company was just getting started in a garage in Menlo Park, Calif.
The exact date of Google's birthday is debated. The company is said to have officially registered for google.com on Sept. 15, 1997, but it was officially incorporated on Sept. 7, 1998. But today is the day that Google itself says it was born, and it is celebrating the big 15 in a big way.
First, you can head to Google.com and find a fun Google Doodle. Hit play, and you can use your space bar to take hits at a Google piñata. It's fun, but sadly, you won't get real candy. Nope, not even a Kit Kat.
If you've got more time to celebrate you can type in "Google in 1998" in the search box. Hit enter, and you'll see the search engine as it appeared in 1998. You can quickly get back to 2013, though, by clicking "Take me back to 2013." It is fun, though, to take a look at that 1998 page -- along the bottom it reads "Try your query on AltaVista, Excite, Lycos ..."
But it isn't just fun and games to celebrate the big milestone. Thursday the search giant rolled out a new search algorithm, or backend software. Called Hummingbird, the change, which was actually rolled out a month ago, will surface better and more relevant results, especially when you ask it tougher questions.
The company also expanded its Knowledge Graph feature this week, which puts answers and information about your query right on the search page without making you click to another page or source. The tool, both on mobile devices and through the web, now lets you compare two things -- for instance typing in "cake vs. cookie" will bring up a chart comparing the two items' caloric information.
Google also plans to roll out an update to its Search apps on mobile with a cleaner design and features that will sun your Google queries across devices.
"So keep asking Google tougher questions — it keeps us on our toes!" Amit Singhal, SVP of Google Search, wrote in a blog post this week. "After all, we're just getting started."