Google is my rapid-response research assistant. On the run-up to deadline, I may use it to check the spelling of a foreign name, to acquire an image of a particular piece of military hardware, to find the exact quote of a public figure, check a stat, translate a phrase, or research the background of a particular corporation. It's the Swiss Army knife of information retrieval.[]

—Garry Trudeau, cartoonist and creator, "Doonesbury"

Page and Brin felt from the beginning that they should work on something that was not simply theoretical, but that would be helpful to others. Their dreams combined several possible careers into one. "My goal was to work on something that was academically real and interesting," Page recalls.

From an early age, I also realized I wanted to invent things. So I became really interested in technology... and business. So probably from when I was 12 I knew I was going to start a company eventually.

Google teams take the mission a step further, trying to discover needs that people don't yet know they have.

There is no question that Google is useful and the ways in which it can be useful seem endless. For example, a bicyclist in the 2008 Olympics described how she used Google Earth to study the Olympic bicycle route in China and then find a similar route in the United States on which to practice. Land surveyors are using Google Earth for preliminary job-site reconnaissance and for planning the survey. During the 2008 elections, Google used its ...

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