OK Computer – you have more and more mail
As an undergraduate studying literature in the late 1980s, I had a naïve but genuine love of pure maths. I was no good at it, but it beguiled me, its beauty and elegance a constant source of mystified delight. One day I was introduced to the notion of a googol. Back in those days, a googol’s primary meaning was as the number 10100. This pleasing looking figure belies its enormity. That is 10 followed by one hundred zeros, or 100000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000. This is a baffling, impossible number. I wrote it down on a (very large) piece of paper and put brackets around the zeros in groups of six starting from the end.
When the pair initially set up BackRub in its most rudimentary form in Page’s dorm room in 1996 they used their basic HTML knowledge to create a simple user interface with little in the way of elaborate visuals. Instead their interest was in discovering how to use the backmarkers of websites linkable to each other. In early 1997, still running off Stamford’s web site and still called BackRub, the site offered some data on usage from late 1996. It said, Total indexable HTML urls: 75.2306 Million and Total content downloaded: 207.022 gigabytes.