Many people visit Google's homepage on holidays, birthdays and anniversaries in hopes of finding a Google "doodle." Meticulously designed by a chief doodler (that's right, Google has had a chief doodler since the early days) and a team of four additional doodlers, Google's doodles have featured everything from Dilbert strips to playable Pac-Man games.
Here are 20 of the most notable Google doodles throughout the years.
Burning Man - August 30, 1998
The first ever Google doodle appeared in the summer of 1998, when co-founders Larry Ellison and Sergey Brin wanted to alert the world that they were at the Burning Man festival. The official story is that they wanted to send an out of office message to people "in case the site crashed and someone wanted to know why nobody was answering the phone."
Dilbert - May 24, 2002
Google's Dilbert doodle is a tribute to every working person's favourite comic strip. This doodle actually ran for five days, Monday through Friday, and featured a different comic panel for each day (together they made up an entire strip, of course).
Einstein - March 14, 2003
Google ran this doodle on Pi Day, which also happens to be Albert Einstein's birthday. The doodle features a cute drawing of Einstein himself, and the e in Google has been incorporated into Einstein's famous theory.
Braille - January 4, 2006
Google released this doodle on the birthday of Louis Braille, the inventor of the raised dot writing method. Let's ignore the fact that blind people are unable to see this attractive doodle.
Earth Day - April 22, 2006
Google released this solar panel doodle on Earth Day in 2006. Solar power is so hot these days (haha).
Valentine's Day - February 14, 2007
When Google released this decadent doodle on Valentine's Day in 2007, some people were confused. "When you look at the logo, you may worry that we forgot our name overnight, skipped a letter, or have decided that 'Googe' has a better ring to it," Google doodler Dennis Hwang wrote on the official Google blog, "None of the above. I just know that those with true romance and poetry in their soul will see the subtlety immediately. And if you're feeling grouchy today, may I suggest eating a strawberry."
Legos - January 28, 2008
What self-respecting geek doesn't like Lego bricks? Google knows where it's at, so the site released this doodle to commemorate Lego's 50th birthday.
Bar Code - October 7, 2009
This nearly unreadable doodle (to the untrained eye, of course) was Google's way of saluting the bar code. This doodle appeared on the bar code's 57th anniversary. (The code says "Google," if you had any doubts.)
H. G. Wells - September 5-21, 2009
These mysterious Google doodles appeared and disappeared over the month of September, with no explanation. Turns out they were doodles in honour of what would have been H.G. Wells's 143rd birthday.
Pi Day - March 14, 2010
March 14 is known as Pi Day because it contains the first three numbers of pi: 3/14. (Creative, I know.) This doodle is obviously a tribute to the number pi.
White Logo - First appeared April 2010
Google's colorless doodle is like a flag at half-mast, a sign of mourning. This doodle first appeared on the Google Poland homepage in April 2010, mourning the death of President Lech Kaczynski.
Pac-Man - May 21, 2010
This doodle, designed to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the classic arcade game Pac-Man, was fully interactive and playable. That's right: Visitors could play Pac-Man on the Google search page, all 255 levels, in fact. Naturally, once workers discovered this little toy, productivity plummeted as offices across the nation were filled with "waka-waka-waka." If you missed it, don't worry: You can still play Google's Pac-Man.
Doodle4Google Winner - May 2010
Doodle4Google is a doodle contest for kids in grades kindergarten through 12 that gives them a chance to win awesome prizes such as scholarships, technology grants (for their school), and netbooks. This doodle was made by 9-year-old Makenzie Melton.
Hologram - June 5, 2010
Google is known for creating doodles honouring the birthdays of famous people, especially famous geeks. So it's no wonder that this hologram doodle appeared on the 110th birthday of Dennis Gabor, inventor of the hologram.
Buckyball - September 4, 2010
Here's yet another doodle that commemorates a geeky milestone. This entry celebrates the 25th anniversary of the "Buckyball." The Buckyball or Buckminsterfullerene is an example of a fullerene, a hollow molecule composed entirely of carbon. This doodle was interactive, users could twirl the Buckyball around with their mouse.
Bouncy Ball Doodle - September 7, 2010
This mysterious bouncy ball doodle, which appeared in September 2010, was interactive: When you moved your mouse over the logo, the balls would disperse until you stopped moving the pointer. Nobody was sure what the purpose of this doodle was, but it may have had something to do with Google's anniversary (the company was incorporated on this day in 1998).
Instant Search - September 8, 2010
This doodle is animated, but not interactive. Google presented this doodle, which "types" the Google logo out (well, converts it from white to colourful), on the same day that it introduced its new Google Instant search feature. Under Instant search, with each letter you type in your query, Google spits back evolving results.
Imagine - October 8, 2010
This doodle appeared on what would have been John Lennon's 70th birthday. Instead of an e, Google's logo sported a play button. Clicking the button brought up a short, animated video set to Lennon's "Imagine."
Katsushika Hokusai's Great Wave - October 31, 2010
This is an example of a doodle that did not show up in the United States, it appeared on October 31 2010, on Google's Japanese homepage only. It celebrates the approximate birthday of Katsushika Hokusai, famed printmaker and painter.
Holidays - December 2010
Here's another semi-mysterious interactive Google doodle. For the holiday season of 2010, Google displayed this set of 17 holiday pictures from around the world, each clickable picture took you to an explanatory search results page. This doodle reportedly took a team of five doodlers 250 hours to create.