4 September 1241

Birth at Roxburgh of the future Alexander III of Scotland. The only son of Alexander II and his second wife, Marie de Coucy, Alexander became king at the age of seven following the death of his father in 1249.


4 September 1852

Ornithologist William MacGillivray died in Aberdeen, where he had been regius professor of natural history at Marischal College. In 1819 he had walked from Aberdeen to London to see the bird collection in the British Museum.

4 September 1886

After decades of fighting against the US military, the native American Apache leader Geronimo surrenders in Arizona.

4 September 1998: Google takes the world by storm

Two computer scientists revolutionise internet technology... working from a friend’s garage

To most people in the town of Menlo Park, Friday 4 September 1998 was just another warm, hazy California day. For two brilliant young computer scientists at nearby Stanford University, however, it would see the beginning of an extraordinary commercial and technological empire.

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Two years earlier, Larry Page and Sergey Brin had developed an algorithm called PageRank, which helped them to find out which web pages would link to a given site. At the time, the dotcom boom was in full swing – a digital Wild West in which fortunes could be made and lost in months. But Page and Brin were convinced that PageRank, when adapted as a search engine, would be a lasting hit, and in September 1997 they registered an internet domain name for their new engine. Their first web page explained: “10^100 (a gigantic number) is a googol, but we liked the spelling Google better. We picked the name Google because our goal is to make huge quantities of information available to everyone. And it sounds cool and has only six letters.”


A year later, on 4 September 1998, Page and Brin formally incorporated their company, which was based in a friend’s garage in Menlo Park. They only had one employee, a fellow PhD student from Stanford. Yet already their server was humming with activity, and by the end of the year Google had indexed some 60 million web pages. By the following summer Page and Brin had secured a staggering $25m in equity funding, and Google was already on its way to becoming a household name.

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