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Happy Birthday, Google! If Today Really Is Your Birthday… Which It Isn’t.

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When is Google’s birthday, really? Doesn’t seem like they know. In theory, it’s today, since today’s the day that Google posted their own celebratory birthday doodle on the Google search homepage. However, if you click on that doodle, it’ll spark a Google search asking, “When is Google’s birthday?”

I guess Google is cool with us finding out that there’s no concrete answer to that question, since their own search engine results bring us right to the heart of this humorous controversy. Although September 27th (today!) has been demarcated as the site’s official birthday this year, as it has been for the past ten years, that wasn’t always the case. Google celebrated their 2005 birthday on September 26th. In 2004, they told us all their birthday was on September 7th. In 2003, they claimed September 8th.

None of these seem like the right day, anyway. The company was officially founded on September 4th in 1998. So why not celebrate their birthday on that day? And why move it to such a late day in September?

Mirror‘s coverage of Google’s mysteriously-moving birthday speculates that part of the problem is rooted in Google’s beef with Yahoo back in 2005. In September of that year, Yahoo bragged that their search index was bigger than Google’s. Google managed to successfully deflect attention from Yahoo by announcing their “birthday” on September 26th, and also using said “birthday” to announce their new, expanded search index on that day. As we all know, Google’s house party has been the hottest on the ‘net ever since. (Poor Yahoo!)

That still doesn’t explain why Google’s birthday changed multiple times even before the Yahoo tiff back in 2005, though. Google’s official explanation, back in 2006: “Google opened its doors in September 1998. The exact date when we celebrate our birthday has moved around over the years, depending on when people feel like having cake.”

I guess we’ll never know their real birthday. All I know is, you can’t Google it.

Just kidding. It’s totally September 4th. Happy belated birthday, Google.

(via The Next Web, image via Google)

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Maddy Myers, journalist and arts critic, has written for the Boston Phoenix, Paste Magazine, MIT Technology Review, and tons more. She is a host on a videogame podcast called Isometric (relay.fm/isometric), and she plays the keytar in a band called the Robot Knights (robotknights.com).