Google Doodle
It has been 19 years since a chance meeting led to the formation of the world's most popular search engine. Google Doodle

With the world's information now at our fingertips in an instant, some might strain to remember what you did before Google to find something out.

Ask a wise man? Consult an encyclopedia or examine a microfiche? From booking flights, to communication on social media, the role of the world's biggest search engine is undeniable and its founding nearly two decades ago is being marked by Google's latest Doodle.

Available in 123 languages, and used by 4.5 billion people, its conception, like many great ideas had a rather inauspicious start.

Back in 1997, Larry Page arrived at Stanford University to pursue a PhD in computer science.

The Doodle blog describes how Sergey Brin was assigned to showing him around one day and they quickly discovered that they had a shared goal, the aim to organise the world's information and make it universally accessible. They got down to work in a garage and the rest is history.

There were other search engines around, but the difference with Google was that it ranked pages according to notation citation, which meant that a mention on one site on a different website bolstered it. A website's authority could be judged by how many other sites are linking to it.

Larry Page (L) and Sergey Brin, founders of Google, pictured in 2008. REUTERS

Named after the number "googol", which is a one followed by one hundred zeroes, the search engine marks its founding with a Doodle that depicts 19 surprises that have been launched since its inception.

However, you could say that there are several Google 'birthdays', such as the time when was registered, which was 15 September 1997. On 4 September 1998, was the day Google filed for incorporation, allowing a $100,000 cheque to be deposited. Since 2002 though, 27 September has been the day the search engine marks as its birthday.