Google Doodle History: It All Began with a Stick Man
The first Google Doodle was born in the summer of 1998, when Larry Page and Sergey Brin took a vacation to the Burning Man Festival. The Doodle they created was simple, with the festival’s iconic stick man loitering behind the ‘O’, but users loved the playful addition to an otherwise simple logo.
Shortly after Larry and Sergey posted the first Google Doodle (which was, in essence, an ‘out of office’ reminder), freelance artists began working on others. They occasionally added simple holiday decorations to the logo, and when Dennis Hwang because Google’s official chief doodler in 2000, the designs progressed to more creative additions, like a kayaking kangaroo for the Olympic Summer Games in Sydney.
Google Doodles became so popular that year that Sergey Brin decided to file a patent for them. The patent, entitled “Systems and methods for enticing users to access a web site,” was designed to protect Google’s practice of spiffing up their logo for special dates and events. It was approved nearly 10 years later, in 2011. If you think that’s ridiculous, which many people do, here’s another one for you: Google patented its bare-bones, two-button homepage design in 2009.
Dennis Hwang was the sole doodler for many years, but today they’re created by a team of dedicated doodlers and engineers whose backgrounds range from film animation to comic book design. They’ll occasional work with guest artists too, like Samuel Githu, the first African guest artist that Google has collaborated with.
The Google Doodle team gets thousands of requests from users every year, but only a few hundred make it to the homepage. In total, they’ve made over 1000 doodles celebrating everything from the Cookie Monster to the FIFA World Cup. If you want to see a gallery of all Google Doodles, check out the official Google Doodle Archive.
Here’s a behind-the-scenes peek from the Google Doodle team: