MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Search engine Google announced Tuesday that its index has grown to 6 billion searchable items -- fitting for a company named after the mathematical term "googol," an unimaginably huge number that's about the size of all the Web-ready information the company aims to organize.
Google is the largest online collection of information in the world, according to the company.
"People worldwide can find more information with Google than with any other search engine," said Larry Page, Google co-founder and president of Products.
Google users can now search 4.28 billion Web pages, 880 million images, 845 million Usenet messages, and an increasing number of "book-related information pages."
Just last week, Google received eight awards in the 4th Annual Search Engine Watch Awards, which recognize outstanding achievements in Web searching. Google received the award for "Outstanding Search Service," for outstanding performance in helping Internet users locate information from across the Web, which Google has received every year since the award was created in 2000. Google AdWords also won awards for value, targeting, tools and overall advertiser satisfaction.
From the beginning, Stanford PhD. candidates Page and Sergey Brin, Google co-founder and president of Technology, wanted to create a different kind of search engine by using several linked PCs, rather than using a few large servers, for speedier searches. On the "back end" of operations, Google's software uses an algorithm that allows billions of Web page searches in under one second, and rates information sources based on full page content and linked pages, instead of just relying on how many times a word appears on a page.
"Google's technology uses the collective intelligence of the Web to determine a page's importance," the company said.
But were it not for a seed money check of $100,000 made out to Google, Inc. none of these accolades or achievements would have come to pass. Page and Brin didn't even want to start a company around their search technology at first. But after Sun Microsystems co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim made out the $100,000 check, they gathered a total of $1 million from myriad supporters and launched the company in a friend's garage on Sept. 7, 1998.
More than a search engine now, Google has launched other services including Froogle, which searches for and compares products from several sites; Usenet, topic-oriented discussion groups that archive messages going back 20 years; and Google News, powered by a computer program that continually updates news from 4,500 sources.
For those who want to know what everyone else is searching for, Google Zeitgeist keeps track of the 10 most recent top searches -- last week's being Valentine's Day, Grammy awards, ricin, Beyonce, Carlie Brucia, Pam Anderson, Outkast, Tara Dakides, roses, and Cupid.
Google is even used to check out potential dates by "googling" the candidate's name and seeing what pops up.
Those curious to see what Google has dreamed up lately can go to Google Labs, http:labs.google.com, "where users can play with Google's latest search technologies while they're still in the early stages of development," the company said.