Celebrate Google's birthday with our favorite tricks and doodles
The Web giant turns 15 today, so we rounded up the best Google hoaxes, Easter eggs and Doodles.
Fri Sep 27 2013
Happy 15th birthday, Google. You’re not yet old enough to drive in most states, but that’s okay because you have magic robot cars that do the driving for you. You’re fond of celebrating the birthdays of others (this year, you marked Copernicus’s 540th, Schopenhauer’s 225th, Ingmar Bergman’s 95th and scads of other personages of historical significance), and you're always quick to observe even the more obscure holidays. You're celebrating today's with a piñata Google Doodle, and being the puckish sort, you’re also one for harmless pranks and easter eggs, mostly of the nerdy-teenager variety. Below are some of our all-time favorites.
Playing Beatles records backwards may not reveal the gravelly voice of Satan, but Google's backward sister site sure is amusingly evil. Besides showing your search results backwards, you can play games (Snakes, Pac-Man), watch as gravity destroys your hard-typed words, or fill the ocean with image searches of your choice. (Ours was a potpourri of Weird Al, pierogi, Three Rivers Stadium and Benjamin Disraeli.) "Terminal" reveals a fun throwback to the '80s, and "Guitar" allows you to play tunes with keystrokes. What were we supposed to be doing again?
Type either of these search terms into your Google machine, and the screen rotates a few degrees and completely throws your equilibrium off for the rest of the day.
Type in "Bacon Number" followed by the name of any celebrity and you will quickly see how many degrees of separation they are from actor and longtime Bacon Brother Kevin Bacon. Charlie Chaplin's Bacon Number, it turns out, is a mere two (by way of Walter Matthau), the same number as Metallica's James Hetfield and Ride the High Country star Randolph Scott. (See below for video.)
There really isn’t much room for funny business in getting directions via Google Maps. It’s a simple Point A to Point B function. Except when it’s not so simple. If your origin is “The Shire,” or “Rivendell,” and the destination is “Mordor”—the blasted land where the shadows lie in J.R.R. Tolkien’s immortal Lord of the Rings trilogy—Google will issue you a warning: “Use caution: One does not simply walk into Mordor,” it reads. Driving or biking into Mordor, though, is apparently totally fine.
In 2010, for the 30th anniversary of Pac-Man, Google came up with a playable browser version that allows kids who grew up in the age of the Internet to experience what passed for high-tech fun back in the day. In another three decades, we’ll be playing a retro version of GTA V in our Google Virtual Reality Happy Helmet.
Google bought YouTube back in 2006 and didn’t waste much time bringing it in on the joke. Search for “Beam me up, Scotty” and the results will materialize out of the ether.
Most years, Google likes to pull an April Fool's Day gag. The best was when the company announced the release of Google Paper in 2007. As Kevin S. says in the testimonials page: "I've always felt uneasy about the whole Internet thing. With the help of Gmail Paper, now I'm taking matters back into my own hands, literally."
Way-back machines are always fun, and Web 1.0 artifacts are the best. (Still waiting for Geocities 2.0.)
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Editor: Marley Lynch (@marleyasinbob)