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What’s the difference between Google and Googol? Also, why Google ought to be sued

by Felix Omondi
google vs googol

Before we get into the details, how good are you at maths? You must have not been super-extremely excellent if you have not yet come across the word Googol. It is actually a name for a really huge number.

In decimal notation, you write Google as follows:


That is the number one (1) followed by one hundred zeros. That huge right? I bet you are wishing right now you could have an account balance which such figures. On your bank statement, it might be written something like 10100.

How did Googol come to be?

Well, that’s the Googol dollar question in this article, right? Well, according to Wikipedia, in 1920 there was a boy by the name Milton Sirotta (1911-1981), who was the nephew of renowned U.S. mathematician Edward Kasner.

Sirotta came up with the name for this really really huge number 10100, and his uncle Kasner made it popular in his book Mathematics and the Imagination. It safe to say Googol was not the only name used to describe 10100, as there were others like:

Ten duotrigintillion On the short scale
Ten thousand sexdecillion On the long scale
Tex sexdecilliard On the Peletier long scale

My brain hurts from just reading the alternative names for 10100. Nonetheless, the Googol has no special significance in mathematics you would need in your day-to-day number crunching activities. However, it picks our interest because the behemoth search engine company Google copied its name from it.

Google was derived from Googol

It sort of breaks my heart a little that the name Google was not an original creation, but an accidental spelling mistakes by the founders of the company. If they had not misspelled the word, we all would have been using Googol instead of Google.

In 2004, the family of Kasner, who have inherited the rights to the book, were reported to have been contemplating suing Google for using such a derivative name from Googol popularized by their ancestor; and created by (still) their ancestor. However, that lawsuit was never filed.

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