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What was the 1st Google Doodle?

The first Google Doodle was designed back in 1998, when Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin wanted to notify users that they were off at the Burning Man festival. The doodle itself was a simple stick figure drawing behind the second ‘o’ in the Google logo. While it may seem quaint by today’s standards, that simple doodle started a tradition of celebrating holidays, events, and notable figures in Google’s logo that continues to this day.

When was the first Google Doodle created?

The very first Google Doodle was put up on August 30, 1998. At the time, Larry Page and Sergey Brin had incorporated Google as a company about a month earlier on July 4, 1998. Google was still operated out of a garage in Menlo Park, California. Page and Brin had decided to attend the Burning Man festival over Labor Day weekend in late August 1998. To notify users that they were out of office, they placed a stick figure drawing behind the second ‘o’ in the Google logo. The small stick figure was designed as a play on the Burning Man logo and became the first-ever alteration of the Google logo, kicking off the start of Google Doodles.

What did the first Google Doodle look like?

The first Google Doodle was extremely simple but set the precedent for the quirky and artistic logos that would follow. It featured a basic stick figure standing behind the second ‘o’ in the Google logo. The stick figure had its arms raised in a celebratory pose of being at Burning Man. The ‘o’ itself remained unchanged, only serving as the backdrop for the stick figure’s presence. The doodle matched the whimsical creativity of Burning Man and signaled that the Google founders were having fun at the festival.

Why was the first Google Doodle created?

The first Google Doodle was created for a practical and lighthearted reason. Larry Page and Sergey Brin had incorporated Google as a company on July 4, 1998. Just a month later in August 1998, they wanted to attend Burning Man over the Labor Day weekend. As Google was still a young company, Page and Brin didn’t want users to think something was wrong if they didn’t see any updates over the long weekend. So they decided to place a small stick figure drawing behind the ‘o’ in the Google logo to signify they were out at Burning Man. This first doodle set the tone that Google Doodles would be alternations of the logo for holidays, events, and to honor notable figures.

How did the first Google Doodle impact later doodles?

That first simplistic doodle back in August 1998 opened the door to Google evolving its logo much more frequently with artwork and animations. Just a few months after the first doodle, Google unveiled a pumpkin icon for Halloween and turkey icon for Thanksgiving later in 1998. Over the following years, Google Doodles increased in complexity for events like Mother’s Day, World Cup, Olympics, and for famous artists, scientists, musicians, and pioneers. While the first one was a basic stick figure, it demonstrated creativity was welcome in Google’s branding. Later doodles incorporated more detailed illustrations, animations, and even interactive elements. But it all traces back to that original stick figure that kicked off the tradition.

When did Google Doodles become more complex?

The very first Google Doodles largely featured simple iconography of objects associated with the holiday or event being celebrated. So there was a pumpkin for Halloween in October 1998 and a turkey for Thanksgiving in November 1998. The drawings were static images without any animation. It wasn’t until several years later that the doodles evolved into more complex illustrations and animations. Some key developments include:

  • 2000 – First animated doodle for Bastille Day
  • 2001 – First interactive doodle for Beethoven’s birthday
  • 2005 – Doodles got more detailed for events like holidays
  • 2009 – Animated doodles launched for New Year’s Eve
  • 2010 – First video doodle with a live-action Charlie Chaplin clip

Over the 2000s, Google gradually had more artistic freedom to make bolder, intricate, and technology-driven doodles. But it took a few years after that first simple stick figure doodle for doodles to reach their greater potential.

Who was responsible for the creation of the first Google Doodle?

The first Google Doodle was co-created by Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin themselves. According to sources, Page and Brin collaborated on the initial idea of honoring their attendance at Burning Man with a modified Google logo. While the details on the design process are unclear, it seems the stick figure was drawn by either Page or Brin before being implemented on Google’s site over the Labor Day weekend. The doodle proved to be a DIY project by the founders during the early startup days. After the first doodle, Page and Brin enabled others at Google to continue evolving doodles for holidays and events. But that inaugural doodle will forever be credited to Page and Brin as Google’s first ever doodle.

What impact did the first Google Doodle have on the company’s culture?

That inaugural Google Doodle established some key aspects of Google’s culture that still define the company today. First, it highlighted a flexible, fun work environment by showing Page and Brin were comfortable stepping away over a holiday weekend during Google’s infancy. It also displayed their ingenuity to creatively modify the Google logo for the first time. Finally, it set the tone that Google could thoughtfully celebrate holidays, events, and people each day through artistic doodles. That first doodle on August 30, 1998 helped solidify Google’s culture as creative, unconventional, and willing to take risks. The doodle demonstrated that something as official as a corporate logo could still be experimental and fun. That initial culture which embraced the first doodle still lives on in Google offices today.

How many Google Doodles have there been since the first one in 1998?

Google’s tradition of doodling its logo for holidays, events, and famous figures took off quickly after the very first one back in 1998. Within just a few years there were dozens of doodles per year. Fast forward to today, and there have been over 4,000 Google Doodles created since the original Burning Man stick figure. A few other stats about the proliferation of Google Doodles include:

  • Over 1,000 doodles were created within the first decade after the initial one in 1998.
  • There were 314 Google doodles in 2013 alone, marking over 1 doodle per day that year.
  • As of 2022, Google has published over 4,000 doodles total for its global sites.
  • The US Google site has featured over 2,000 doodles to date.
  • Beyond the US, other versions of Google feature localized doodles, including over 1,000 doodles for Japan.

So in just 20 years, Google has taken that original simple stick figure doodle and turned it into well over 4,000 colorful, artistic renditions of its logo. It seems a new doodle is created nearly every day on the Google homepage.

What are some of the most memorable Google Doodles over the years?

While the first Google Doodle in 1998 was special and set the precedent, there have been thousands of creative, impactful doodles since then. Here is a selection of some of the most memorable Google Doodles from the company’s history:

  • Freddie Mercury’s 65th Birthday (2011) – This animated doodle celebrated the late Queen frontman’s musical talents.
  • First Day of Spring (2019) – The Google logo blossomed into a video of flowers in bloom for the spring equinox.
  • International Women’s Day (2021) – An interactive slideshow honored barrier-breaking women across countries and cultures.
  • Van Gogh’s Birthday (2021) – The letters of Google were drawn in Van Gogh’s iconic artistic style with swirling brushstrokes.
  • Halloween (2016) – Users could play a magic cat mini-game by clicking on the animated doodle graphic.
  • Pac-Man (2010 and 2015) – The Google logo became an interactive Pac-Man maze game board.

These examples reveal the creativity, interactivity, depth, and breadth of Google Doodle topics and art over the years. Each new doodle offers a unique way for Google to celebrate holidays, events, achievements, and pioneers from history and culture.

What is the approval process for new Google Doodles today?

Today, Google has an entire team called Doodlers that oversees the creation and implementation of each doodle worldwide. Any potential new doodle must go through an extensive approval workflow before going live on the Google site. Here is an overview of that process:

  • Ideas for new doodles come from employees, proposals, and internal brainstorming.
  • The Doodle team discusses the merits and viability of each doodle proposal.
  • Chosen doodles move into a concept design phase involving sketches and initial art.
  • The final design receives internal feedback and adjustments to prepare for animation.
  • The doodle artwork gets coded with any interactive functionality.
  • Robust testing occurs internally using Google systems and software.
  • Localization teams adapt the doodle for international Google domains.
  • After final testing, the doodle goes live on the Google homepage.

So even though the first Google doodle began with Larry Page and Sergey Brin improvising, the process today is much more rigorous. But it retains that creative spirit from the original impromptu doodle back in 1998.

How are topics and themes chosen for today’s Google Doodles?

The Google Doodle team carefully considers various criteria when selecting topics and themes for new doodles:

  • Major holidays – Important holidays like Christmas, Hannukah, New Year’s, etc. regularly receive doodles.
  • Key events – Things like Olympics, World Cup, anniversaries of major events are strong candidates.
  • Noteworthy people – Influential figures from history, science, arts, and culture are ideal doodle honorees.
  • Underrepresented groups – Google aims to highlight diversity through doodles of women, people of color, and pioneers.
  • Global appeal – The doodle team strives to include international events familiar to users worldwide.
  • Timeliness – Anniversaries, current events, and relevant moments provide inspiration.

On top of hitting one or more of those selection criteria, the doodles need to align with Google’s mission and values. The final doodle must be uplifting, family-friendly, innovative, and thoughtful. With so many doodles created already, new ones also aim to feel fresh and distinct compared to prior designs.

What tools and techniques do Google’s doodlers use today?

Google Doodlers utilize an array of digital tools and artistic techniques to bring doodles to life today.

  • Adobe Creative Suite – Especially Photoshop and After Effects for visuals and animation.
  • Proprietary Google Tools – Internal software for coding interactivity and implementation.
  • HTML5 and JavaScript – For programming complex interactivity and gameplay.
  • Drawing and Painting – Traditional non-digital illustration is still utilized.
  • Video Editing – For doodles incorporating video clips and footage.
  • 3D Modeling and Animation – For building 3D graphics and assets.

The artistic medium can vary greatly depending on the doodle concept. Some utilize more classic drawing and painting, while others require advanced software and coding for interactivity. But the common thread is blending art and technology to create engaging doodles.


Google Doodles have become an iconic part of internet culture over the past 20+ years. What started as a simple stick figure drawn by the founders has grown into thousands of beautifully illustrated logos. The tradition of celebrating holidays, events, and people each day with a doodle connects Google’s fun, innovative spirit back to that very first doodle. While the doodles have gotten far more advanced and dynamic, they owe it all to the improvised stick figure that Larry Page and Sergey Brin introduced back on August 30th, 1998. The welcoming of creativity into Google’s brand set the stage for doodles to continuously evolve and bring joy to users over decades. That inaugural doodle proved that even one of the most famous logos in the world could change from time to time in meaningful, artistic ways.