Early Life and Education
Lawrence Edward Page (b. 1973), universally known as “Larry,” was born in Lansing, Michigan. His father’s parents were Protestant Christians, while his mother’s family was Jewish. Page was raised in a secular environment.
Page’s father was a professor of computer science and his mother an instructor in computer programming, both at Michigan State University.
Page was raised in an atmosphere of enthusiasm for learning, in general, and for technology and computers, in particular. He has said that he was an avid reader of Popular Science and other technology magazines growing up.
Page has also said that he began to play with the computers lying around his house when he was only six years old.
In addition, Page was very interested in music, studying saxophone and flute, as well as composition. His parents encouraged his interest, sending the teen-aged Page twice to the music program at the celebrated Interlochen Summer Arts Camp in Interlochen, Michigan.
Interestingly, he has also explained how his two main interests—in computers and in music—dovetailed with each other, both being about the split-second timing of events.
Pager has also said that he first formed the ambition to found his own company when he was 12 years old.
Page attended a Montessori school from the age of two through first grade. After that, he was educated in the public school system, graduating from East Lansing High School in 1991.
For college, Page attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he took his bachelor’s degree in computer engineering in 1995.
For his graduate work, Page entered the PhD program in computer science at Stanford University. His dissertation supervisor was the distinguished computer scientist, Terry Winograd.
Page considered several projects for his dissertation, including telepresence (virtual reality) and self-driving cars. However, Winograd urged him to proceed with a third interest: exploring the structure of the World Wide Web using the theoretical tool known as graph theory.
Page was especially interested in the following problem: given a web page with a known number of backlinks, which are the web pages linked to that page?
For his empirical database, Page decided to use the citation indices used up to that time by the academic world to enable authors to track the authors who cite their works.
At this point, Page was joined in his research by a graduate-student friend he had made at Stanford, the Russian-Jewish immigrant, Sergey Brin.
Page and Brin together authored a research article entitled “The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine,” Computer Networks and ISDN Systems, 1998, 30: 107–117. The paper became one of the most-downloaded scientific articles in the history of the Internet up until that time.
Page and Brin’s project, then, consisted of two parts: (1) designing an algorithm to objectively and reliably rank web pages according to relevance; and (2) building the algorithm into a web crawler to return results ordered by relevance to the search query.
Page and Brin ultimately developed an algorithm that assigned a value to a web page based on the number and quality of its backlinks. This value came to be known as a web page’s “PageRank.”
The basic idea, then, was that the crawler would detect each individual page’s PageRank and report the relevant pages to the human searcher in their PageRank order.
The Page-Brin search engine based on the PageRank concept was far more efficient than any other search engine of the time.
Page and Brin dropped out of Stanford without taking their doctorates. They set up operations in the garage of a house in Menlo Park, California, that Page and Brin rented to work on getting a company off the ground to produce and market their astonishing invention.
Google, Inc., was incorporated in 1998. The company’s name was originally spelled “Googol,” meaning the number 10100. Page has said the name was chosen because it evoked the vast, yet finite, number of web pages he envisioned as springing into existence all over the world on the burgeoning Internet.
Just two years later, in 2000, Google had indexed around a billion Internet addresses (URLs), making it by far the largest such database in the world.
Page and Brin ran Google themselves until 2001, when they brought in more-experienced business managers to help them make the transition from a garage-based startup to a company of global reach.
In 2001, Eric Schmidt assumed the position of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Google, a position he held until 2011.
That year, Page took back over as CEO, serving for four years.
In 2015, Page moved to the position of CEO of Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent holding company, a position he held for the next four years.
In 2019, Sundar Pichai was brought in to assume the position of CEO of both Google and Alphabet.
Thus, Page and Brin have both retired from the day-to-day management of the company they created.
However, Page remains the largest shareholder of Google.
Page’s personal fortune is calculated to be more than $100 billion.
Page Quotation Collection
The Google Boys: Sergey Brin and Larry Page in Their Own Words, edited by George Beahm (2014).
Selected Books About Page and Google
Brandt, Richard L., The Google Guys: Inside the Brilliant Minds of Google Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin (2011).
Brezina, Corona, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Eric Schmidt, and Google (2012).
Cooke, C.W., The Digital Empire: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey (2021).
Doeden, Matt, Sergey Brin: Groundbreaking Google Founder (2021).
Edwards, Douglas, I’m Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59 (2011).
Flammang, James M., Larry Page and Sergey Brin (2007).
Goldstein, Margaret J., The Genius of Google: How Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and a Search Engine Changed the World (2022).
Green, Sara, Sergey Brin (2014).
Henderson, Harry, Larry Page and Sergey Brin: Information at Your Fingertips (2012).
Isaacson, Walter, The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution (second edition) (2015).
Jackson, Aurelia, Google: How Larry Page and Sergey Brin Changed the Way We Search the Web (2014).
Johnson, Jason, Sundar Pichai: Business, Career, and Life Lessons from the CEO of Google (Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Eric Schmidt) (2019).
Levy, Steven, In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives (2011).
Lisstar, Natalu, Larry Page Biography: Life Story, Family, Childhood, Career, Success and Facts (2022).
Lowe, Janet, Google Speaks: Secrets of the World’s Greatest Billionaire Entrepreneurs, Sergey Brin and Larry Page (2009).
Marcovitz, Hal, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Google (2015).
Mathis, Austin, Larry Page and Sergey Brin: Biography of the Secretive Google Billionaires (2019).
McPherson, Stephanie Sammartino, Sergey Brin and Larry Page: Founders of Google (2010).
Redding, Anna Crowley, Google It: A History of Google (2018).
Sapet, Kerrily, Google Founders: Larry Page and Sergey Brin (2011).
Schmidt, Eric and Jonathan Rosenberg, How Google Works (2014).
Sichol, Lowey Bundy, From an Idea to Google: How Innovation at Google Changed the World (2019).
Stewart, Gail B., Larry Page and Sergey Brin: The Google Guys (2007).
Stross, Randall, Planet Google: One Company’s Audacious Plan To Organize Everything We Know (2008).
Vise, David A. and Mark Malseed, The Google Story: Inside the Hottest Business, Media, and Technology Success of Our Time (2005; updated edition, 2018).
White, Casey, Sergey Brin and Larry Page: The Founders of Google (2006).