Google began in January 1996 as a research project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while graduate students at Stanford University. They originally named their new search engine “BackRub” because the system checked backlinks to estimate the importance of a site. The service, renamed to Google, originally ran under Stanford University’s website at google.stanford.edu and z.stanford.edu.
The first funding for Google was in August 1998, Andy Bechtolsheim, co-founder of Sun Microsystems who contributed $100,000 which at that time the company was based out of Susan Wojcicki’s garage in Menlo Park.
Google moved to 165 University Ave in Palo Alto in Feb 1999, but Brin and Page wanted to sell the search engine because it was distracting and taking time away from their academic pursuits. They went to Excite CEO George Bell and offered to sell it to him for $1 million, the offer was rejected. The two ended up focusing on Google full-time raising a $25 million round of funding from venture capital firms Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia Capital.
Google corporate headquarters eventually moved to Mountain View, to the former home of Silicon Graphics (SGI). The Googleplex has grown to take over that region, you can see it adjacent to Moffett Field in the photo above.