Larry Page and Sergey Brin probably had no idea they were going to change the world.
In 1996, when they started their research project, naming it after a misspelling of the word “googol”, they were just two kids trying to get their PhDs.
The site itself was simple since neither of them had a good knowledge of HTML, and the server was tiny.
And yet it grew. Today, Google is one of the most valuable brands in the world, with its own browser, internet service provider, and myriad other services and products.
But at its core, Google is still a company started by two quintessential “nerds” working out of a friends garage. And they’ve striven to remain true to that branding ever since.
One of the ways is through easter eggs. Hidden gems tucked away in the coding of the search page, and on other owned pages, like Maps and YouTube
And while some of them are buried deeper than James Halliday’s Oasis keys, many are pretty easy for the casual internet surfer to find. No fancy internet degree required.
Let’s take a look at some of the best Google Easter Eggs.
Play a Video Game
There are a few games Google will let you play if you know the right search terms. Pacman and Snake are both playable by searching their names, as are Atari Breakout, Solitaire, and Tic-Tav-Toe.
There’s even a hidden text adventure game for those of us longing for a simpler time.
We’ve all used Googles calculator feature in a crunch. Heck, we used it to make sure we had the right word count for this article.
But with a little creative figuring, you can get some pretty interesting results from the calculator.
The best of these aren’t equations at all, but rather phrases.
“Once in a blue moon”, “The number of horns on a unicorn”, and “The loneliest number” will all give fun calculator-based answers.
One Does Not Simply Walk…
Even in maps, Google can’t resist the urge to be a little snarky. Occasionally, a stary Tolkienist will succumb to boredom and ask maps to give them the best route from The Shire to Mordor.
Google Maps is happy to provide the directions, but also offers users the warning that “one does not simply walk into Mordor”.
Just Take a Jetski
For those looking for more reality-based directions, Google maps have an Easter Egg there as well.
Asking for driving directions is simple enough, but if you need to cross an ocean, things get complicated. Fortunately, Google has you covered. A search for any two locations separated by an ocean will include the handy suggestion to “jet ski across the (whichever) Ocean”
You really can’t say they don’t try to help.
Don’t Forget Your Towel
For fans of life, the universe, and everything, or just armchair philosophers who want the answer to it all, Google has it.
Asking for the answer to life, the universe, and everything will give you the answer, but we’ll let you figure it out. Wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise.
It’s not every day you get to boss around a huge multi-billion dollar conglomerate. So take your chances where you can, we say.
Asking the search engine to “Do a barrel roll” will result in precisely that. A Star-Fox style barrel roll.
“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” will produce the characteristic scroll that every Star Wars fan knows.
And asking “Is Google down” results in simply a snarky “No”
If you need to flip a coin, roll the dice, or guess a number between one and ten, Google has an Easter Egg for you. It can do all those things with a simple search, plus a few more.
“Metronome” will produce an adjustable metronome, customizable between 40 and 220 BPM.
“Breathing Exercise” produces a one-minute breathing tool to help you slow your respiration and calm your body.
RGB to HEX can help all us wannabe web developers as we play with color by converting RGD to Hex, and vice versa.
A prize spinner and stopwatch are available too. And for the little ones in your life, asking “What does the dog (or pig, or cow) say” will give you a very audible answer.
Pirates and Chefs
If you’ve ever wanted your Google results in Pig Latin, you may have some soul mates at Google.
In a very “just for fun” Easter Egg, users can choose several fictional languages through which to filter their results.
You can pick Pig Latin, Elmer Fudd, Bork, Klingon, Pirate, and Hacker.
Be careful though, this one has been known to make many a computer expert into laughing fits, forgetting completely what they were originally searching for.
Everyone likes a good opportunity to dress up, and Pegman is no exception.
Everyone’s favorite yellow Street View buddy has gotten in on the topical action quite a few times.
In Legoland, he becomes a minifigure, and at Loch Ness, changes into the monster herself.
He gets spacey as an astronaut at Kennedy Space Center and a UFO around Area 51.
And if you want to take a look at Half Moon Island in Antarctica, Pegman will oblige by turning into a penguin.
He’s even gotten in on the fun for events, wearing an “I voted” sticker on election day, and dressing up for major holidays like Halloween and Valentine’s Day.
Google Earth is great and all, but if you really want to see the world. the only way is from the air.
Unfortunately, flying is pricey, and there’s the small matter of flight school.
So Google Easter Egging us is the next best thing. There’s a hidden flight simulator inside google maps. The program can take you soaring over any location in the world, complete with a view.
These aren’t part of the search function, but they are still fun Easter Eggs.
Google.com has a few humourous subpages that are easy to miss if you don’t know how to look.
/heart allows you to use an old archived version of Google for your searches (don’t worry, the current algorithm still applies)
/killer-robots.txt is a fun text file about…what else? Killer robots.
/teapot takes users to the 418 page with a tiny teapot. It can really be used, too. turning the computer or tapping the teapot will get you a lovely pout of virtual tea.
More than Definitions
We’ve all used Google as our personal dictionary. And sometimes, it gets a little silly with definitions.
Asking about the word “anagram” will give back “Did you mean” responses with mixed-up versions of the word “anagram”
“recursion” will ask if you really meant “recursion” and direct you in an infinite loop back to the same page.
“Kerning” will play with the spaces between words.
It may be an unorthodox way to teach vocabulary, but we bet you’ll never forget what “recursion” means.
If you’ve been playing video games long enough, you might remember the old Nintendo cheat code “up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A”
Well, Google remembers, too.
Typing in that very code while inside the engines RSS reader will turn the screen blue and produce tiny ninjas to accompany you on your RSS journey. This may be a bit of a nod to the Japanese origins of the cheat code.
Ever wanted to explore the Batcave? Or the World of Harry Potter? You can! Well, sort of. For the New Fantastic Beasts and Justice League movies, Google added in maps of fantastical and mythical places, allowing the world a glimpse inside the world of fairy tales for just a while.
And while these are far from imaginary, you can also use Google to travel to Mars and to the Moon. If you’re feeling spacey but also imaginary, the Tardis can be spotted in London as well.
It helps when billion dollar corporations have a sense of humor about their own shortcomings and failures.
Once upon a time, YouTube had a tendency to freeze view counts at 301, a bug that lasted quite some time before Google finally fixed it.
But now, if you ask “Why do YouTube views freeze at 301”. you’ll be directed to a Google-made video answering the question, with its view counter stuck at, what else? 301.
Youtube has added various Easter Eggs for events as well, such as a Lightsaber for a progress bar when Star Wars: The Force Awakens was in theatres.
Google Easter Eggs for Everyone!
Google is an enormous corporation, but one that still seems to desire a real connection with its users, and has not yet lost track of what makes it a truly special company.
That sense of fun carries over into its production of hardware and software, often in the form of Google easter eggs and in-jokes with their audience.
With all this fun stuff, do you know how to use Google and use it well? Can you navigate the dreaded algorithm? We can help you out. Take a look today!