The Computer History Museum (CHM), the world's leading institution exploring the history of technology and its ongoing impact on society, today announced a collection of materials telling the story of Google’s founding and early growth. The collection, which will be known as the “Google Founders Collection,” is a cornerstone project of the Museum’s Exponential Center, which was launched in 2016 to explore the people, companies and communities that are transforming the human experience through technology innovation, economic value creation and social impact.
The Google Founders Collection contains artifacts, documents, photographs and video from the first 10 years of Google’s development. Part of the archive is composed of items gathered from the personal collections of some of the earliest Google team members. The initial collection was assembled within Google by VP of Product Management Richard Holden under the leadership of Susan Wojcicki, now CEO of YouTube, who housed Google’s early-stage operation – led by co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin – in her home in Menlo Park, CA. Wojcicki later served as a senior vice president of Google, before moving to YouTube. Marc Weber, curatorial director of CHM’s Internet History Program, worked as web historian on the project with Wojcicki and Google.
The collection reflects pivotal moments in Google’s entrepreneurial history. The collection includes a May 1998 receipt from the Empire Tap Room in Palo Alto, CA, where famed angel investor Ron Conway learned about Google for the first time and inscribed on the receipt “this is going to be huge!” Other notable items include Google’s very first business plan, along with the Crayon Graph, drawn by some of the company’s first engineers to track query growth, and a large collection of digital artifacts.
“Google is an entrepreneurial success story of epic proportions and worldwide impact, an impact that is just beginning,” said John C. Hollar, the Museum’s president and chief executive officer. “We are delighted to be collaborating with Google to protect and preserve this pivotal part of Silicon Valley history, and grateful to Susan Wojcicki for demonstrating that a culture of preservation within these historic companies can be as important to future generations as a culture of innovation.”
“Google embodies the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation that the Exponential Center is documenting, interpreting and sharing with people around the world,” said Marguerite Gong Hancock, executive director of the Exponential Center. “This collection will support the production of many rich lessons of risk-taking, innovation and bold ideas that will both tell the early Google story and inspire future entrepreneurs.”
“The Computer History Museum’s impressive collections and archiving expertise made the Museum a natural choice to preserve the Google Founders Collection,” said Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube. “We look forward to collaborating with CHM as the collection expands.”
The Collections and Archiving teams of CHM will lead the work of cataloging and archiving the collection, a project that is expected to take a number of years. Working with Google, the Museum will also be accepting future acquisitions that are relevant to the startup decade covered by the collection. While the Museum’s Exponential Center may develop future programs based on the collection, the collection will not currently be accessible by the public.
The Exponential Center at the Computer History Museum is capturing the legacy—and advancing the future—of entrepreneurship and innovation in Silicon Valley and around the world. The center explores the people, companies, and communities that are transforming the human experience through technology innovation, economic value creation, and social impact. The center’s work focuses on five integrated initiatives: collections and exhibitions, research and insights, education, events, and thought leadership. For more information visit computerhistory.org/exponential.
The Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, is a nonprofit organization with a four-decade history as the world’s leading institution exploring the history of computing and its ongoing impact on society. The Museum is dedicated to the preservation and celebration of computer history and is home to the largest international collection of computing artifacts in the world, encompassing computer hardware, software, documentation, ephemera, photographs, and moving images.
The Museum brings computer history to life through large-scale exhibits, an acclaimed speaker series, a dynamic website, docent-led tours, and an award-winning education program. The Museum’s signature exhibition is “Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing,” described by USA Today as “the Valley’s answer to the Smithsonian.” “Make Software: Change the World,” opened in 2017, illustrates the impact of software on the world through the stories of seven iconic and widely used applications. Other current exhibits include the “Where To? A History of Autonomous Vehicles,” “Thinking Big: Ada, Countess of Lovelace,” “The Trillion-Dollar Startup,” and demonstration labs featuring fully restored and working models of the DEC PDP-1 and the IBM 1401 systems. For more information and updates, visit computerhistory.org.