It's hard to imagine a time without Google. What started out as a simple alternative to inefficient, shopping-based search engines quickly became one of the biggest technology powerhouses in the world. Yet for millions of web users, Google has always been there. It's a testament to the impact the search engine first made some 15 years ago, and how integral Google has since become to the Internet.
That said, when the site was first launched, it couldn't do much. People love that Google now has a search option for animated GIFs -— but back in the day, Google didn't even have a built-in option for looking through images. It was a text-only engine for longer than most people remember... but that all changed thanks to a certain green dress.
As part of a piece on the search engine for Project Syndicate, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt revealed the true origins of Google Images — and it goes all the way back to the 2000 Grammy Awards.
"When Google was launched, people were amazed that they were able to find out about almost anything by typing just a few words into a computer... It was better than anything else, but not great by today's standards."
"So our co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin – like all other successful inventors – kept iterating. They started with images. After all, people wanted more than just text. This first became apparent after the 2000 Grammy Awards, where Jennifer Lopez wore a green dress that, well, caught the world's attention."
— VOGUE.CO.UK (@BritishVogue) April 8, 2015
"At the time, it was the most popular search query we had ever seen. But we had no surefire way of getting users exactly what they wanted: JLo wearing that dress. Google Image Search was born."
That's right — a single image of Jennifer Lopez in an almost-see-through dress is the reason that Google Images exists today. It's easy to laugh at the relatively tame nature of the search engine's origins (especially considering what many use the portal for nowadays), but it really was a revolutionary moment for the Internet as a whole.
Back in the early 2000s, Google revolutionized how people used the Internet, and Google Images did the same thing just a few years later. Think about it: were it not for JLo wearing that risqué green dress at an awards show 15 years ago, you'd never be able to find that Arrested Development GIF today.
Here's another way to think about it: the star of one of the worst films of all time is responsible for the technology you use each and every single day. Just let that sink in.