Vivid Dreams: Larry Page Describes Google’s Origin

Yesterday Larry Page gave the commencement address at the University of Michigan. Larry and I went to Michigan at the same time and in fact Larry was briefly a member of the Solar Car Team where I was team leader (I often joke that I'm one of the few people who can say that "Larry Page worked for them.").

He tells a great story about the origins of Google:

You know what it’s like to wake up in the middle of the night with a vivid dream? And you know how, if you don’t have a pencil and pad by the bed to write it down, it will be completely gone the next morning?

Well, I had one of those dreams when I was 23. When I suddenly woke up, I was thinking: what if we could download the whole web, and just keep the links and… I grabbed a pen and started writing! Sometimes it is important to wake up and stop dreaming. I spent the middle of that night scribbling out the details and convincing myself it would work. Soon after, I told my advisor, Terry Winograd, it would take a couple of weeks to download the web — he nodded knowingly, fully aware it would take much longer but wise enough to not tell me. The optimism of youth is often underrated! Amazingly, I had no thought of building a search engine. The idea wasn’t even on the radar. But, much later we happened upon a better way of ranking webpages to make a really great search engine, and Google was born. When a really great dream shows up, grab it!

Unfortunately the audio drops out for about a minutes from 0:43 to 2:28 (can you say "Nixon tapes"?) but the video is worth a watch nonetheless.  Michigan is a great school and you can really tell how much of an impact it had on Larry watching this…Go Blue!