The first Google doodle happened late on a Saturday night in 1999. As Marissa Meyer, Google’s chief experience officer remembers it, she was in the office at 3 a.m., trying to finish up some work before leaving on vacation when Sergei Brin came running in, all excited, shouting, "Marissa! Marissa! Look what I made!"
When we were out in Mountain View a while later, talking to her about a story on simplicity in technology, she told us how the Google doodles were born:
Mayer: "Sergei forwarded me a url on the company’s little internal network, and I punched it in and saw his handiwork. It was the Google logo and it had these two incredibly sad clip art pumpkins in the O’s."
He: "It’s a Halloween logo!"
She: "Are those clip art?’"
He: "Yeah, I found them on the Web. I cut them out. Isn’t it cool?"
She: "You want me to put these on the home page?"
He: "Yeah, yeah! Our users will like it. We’re all excited for Halloween!"
She: "You can see all the pixels. You scaled it up, right?"
He: "Oh, no matter!"
She: "On the yellow ‘O’ you don’t seem to have covered it well. I can still see it peeking out there."
He: "Post it! Post it!"
She: "You really want me to post it on the home page?"
He: "I do!"
She: "OK. "
"So we put it up," she told us, "and Slashdot went crazy, and a tradition was born."
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