The 13 Best Global Google Doodles

Written by forbes

Older and Wiser: Google Turns 13

Traditionally the number 13 is frowned upon as being unlucky, but today Google has all the luck.

It’s the online search superstar’s birthday today and for a teenager, Google has been keeping it pretty mellow. Just family and friends, a couple wearing little party hats, some balloons and a few neatly wrapped presents and a cake at the center of the table. The only sign that things could get rowdy comes in the form of an exclamation point hanging out next to the fam.

This birthday party is available for every person in the world to view on the official Google homepage in the form of a Google doodle, one of the little embellishments to the Google logo that the creative team draws up on a regular basis to illustrate the otherwise sparse website. Though many countries have Google doodles that are specific to their culture, Google doodles are also available at a global scale, reaching all the far corners of the earth (and internet).

Doodle 4 Google, Google’s official history of the doodle site offers up a brief history of when the doodle was thought up. In 1998, founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin decided to let Google users know that they were out of the office (and heading to a Burning Man festival) by drawing up a quick image of a stick figure standing behind the second “o”in the Google logo. Since this drawing, Google has worked alongside chief Doodler, Dennis Hwang, to assist in creating and well, doodling some of Google’s most beloved images including the infamous Magriette’s Birthday from November 21, 2008.

Hwang, who came from humble intern beginnings at Google, has since worked on multiple doodles with the idea behind the work to celebrate the lives of celebrities (be it in the world of physics, philosophy, or pop culture), athletic events, holidays, and anniversaries. Many notables over the years include Confucius, Jackson Pollack, Dr. Seuss, Houdini, and even the cast of Sesame Street.

To say that the Google doodle over the years has gotten to be sophisticated is an understatement. The doodle has over 300 versions unique to the United States and over 700 available internationally. In the last few years most notably, Google doodles have evolved from just an image to an image that one could click on and immediately interact with. For instance, when Pac-Man celebrated their 30th anniversary on May 21, 2010, the Google doodle became the site’s first interactive Doodle with 255 levels created. Many a job was neglected for employees in their cubicles and for college students, classes either skipped or attended, but with a laptop in tow as the world caught on to that sweet, sweet Pac-Man fever.

After scrolling through a list of the Google doodles throughout the years, I decided to make a list of Google’s 13 greatest hits. Google’s greatest strength has always been its ability to show off both their brand through reinvention. Imagine if Coca-Cola or McDonald’s did this to their corporate logo every other day? It simply wouldn’t work- there’s too much brand recognition that consumers have in these companies for something that radical to occur. And then there’s the issue of being unable to embrace the new image.

Google has never had this problem because while the Doodles themselves are wildly popular they only last for a day or so. The Google logo, on the other hand, is iconic itself, using a series of primary colors and simple font to read. Easy, but still innovative.

Today we focus on the innovation. Today Google may have its cake and eat it too.

*You can find all these and many more at the official Google Logospage.

Jan. 1, 2000 Happy New Year!

Iconic in the sense that it was the first official (if we don’t count the Burning Man stick figure) doodle to go live, this doodle also serves as a testament to just how far the site has come in the last 11 years. Makes you wonder where Google doodles might be in 11 more years doesn’t it?

Jan. 4, 2006 Louis Braille’s Birthday

This moment was undoubtedly the beginning of when Google would step outside of their “Google” box so to speak and begin mixing it up. Prior to this moment all designs, while cute nonetheless and very holiday and Olympic Games based, weren’t clever just yet or containing that “wow” factor. Google celebrated the inventor of Braille, Louise Braille, with a logo so intriguing you could almost feel it.

April 27, 2009 Samuel Morse’s Birthday

Morse code, anyone? Stop. Google has it for the day. Stop.

Apr. 1, 2010 “Topeka” April Fool’s

Toto, I don’t think we’re at Goog- April Fool’s!

May 21, 2010 Pac-Man’s 30th Anniversary

Uploading a game onto this site is next to impossible so I’ve done the next best thing and provided a link for you to enjoy the game on. Definitely brings back the nostalgia from 2010- which wasn’t so long ago and when Google began to start releasing some of its more innovative work yet, much of it interactive and engaging.

Sept. 6, 2010 Google Instant- Particle Logo

Manipulations made easy with your mouse that you can indulge in here. PCWorld asked the same question we all thought over a year ago:what’s up with the bouncy balls? The answer many believed to be laid within Google’s anniversary as the company incorporated on that date in 1998.

Sept. 7, 2010 Google Instant- Keystroke Logo

It was a simple logo that upon first glance had all the potential to offer nothing. Begin typing and watch the letters of Google light up in their typical primary colors- another successful installment of the Google Instant family, released a day apart from one another.

Feb. 8, 2011 Jules Verne’s 1832rd Birthday


Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea indeed. Had the infamous French author still been alive, he would have gotten a kick out of moving his cursor around in the underwater delight Google concocted, using a special lever on the right hand side to move the waters to and fro.

Mar. 31, 2011 Robert Bunsen’s 200th Birthday

Bubble, bubble, toil, and no trouble, this was a tribute to the German chemist who developed the Bunsen burner, changing the chemical landscape as we knew it.

Apr. 12, 2011 50th Anniversary of the First Man in Space

One small step for Google... one giant leap for mankind.

June 9, 2011 Les Paul’s 96th Birthday

Google has always been respectful about the celebration of birthdays of legends and honoring the famous guitarist Les Paul with his pioneering work with electric guitars for what would have been his 96th birthday was the true definition of a guitar hero. Praise came in droves from The Atlantic, citing it as ‘the coolest Google doodle ever.”

Sept. 5, 2011 Freddie Mercury’s 65th Birthday

Fitting for a rock god without a single note missing. Just press play. Beautifully done, Google.

Sept. 24 Jim Henson’s 75th Birthday

Hey, I remember this one from just a few days ago! Already iconic for allowing users to be able to pick a Muppet and let their cackles and smiles guide you to typing, even the most recent of Google doodles have already shown just how far they have come in the past 11 years.

Bonus: No Flip!