Our Favorite Google Doodles Through the Years

Starting with an "out of office" nod to Burning Man, the Google Doodle has turned into a regular tribute. Here's a look at some of the most memorable.

James Martin
James Martin is the Managing Editor of Photography at CNET. His photos capture technology's impact on society - from the widening wealth gap in San Francisco, to the European refugee crisis and Rwanda's efforts to improve health care. From the technology pioneers of Google and Facebook, photographing Apple's Steve Jobs and Tim Cook, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Google's Sundar Pichai, to the most groundbreaking launches at Apple and NASA, his is a dream job for any documentary photography and journalist with a love for technology. Exhibited widely, syndicated and reprinted thousands of times over the years, James follows the people and places behind the technology changing our world, bringing their stories and ideas to life.
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The doodle began with Burning Man
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The first doodle: Burning Man 1998

The concept of the Google Doodle was born on Aug. 30, 1998, when company co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin placed a simple stick-figure drawing behind the second "o" in the word Google. This first Google logo art was intended as a message to the site's users that the founders were "out of office" at the Burning Man festival.

While this first doodle was a relatively simple sketch, the idea of decorating the Google logo to celebrate notable events was born -- a tradition which is today stronger than ever. As the doodles have continued to grow, new technologies have led to more complex, entertaining, and creative artistic concepts. Today, Google employs a team of illustrators and engineers known as "Doodlers" to brighten up the Google home page.

Originally published Sept. 26, 2013. This gallery is occasionally updated with new Doodles as they strike our fancy.

US Vote 2000
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US elections 2000

Another early-era doodle, this one posted on Nov. 7, 2000, commemorated the US elections. In this case, it also turned out to be one of the most contentious elections in the nation's history.

Monet's 161st Birthday
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Monet's 161st birthday

This doodle from Nov. 14, 2001, marked what would have been the 161st birthday of artist Claude Monet by depicting the Google logo in the French impressionist style.

Andy Warhol's 74th Birthday
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Andy Warhol's 74th birthday

Andy Warhol passed away in 1987. On Aug. 6, 2002, Google celebrated what would have been the pop artist's 74th birthday with a doodle in his signature style.

100th Anniversary of Flight
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100th anniversary of manned flight

This Dec. 16, 2003, doodle commemorated the 100th anniversary of the first controlled, powered, heavier-than-air manned flight by the Wright brothers a few miles south of Kitty Hawk, N.C., on Dec. 17, 1903. Truth be told, there's a continuing debate about who ought to receive recognition, with champions of the famed Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont arguing that he was first.

Michelangelo's 528th Birthday
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Michelangelo's 528th birthday

Another nod to a legendary artist was the March 5, 2003, doodle celebrating what would have been Michelangelo's 528th birthday. This one depicted the Google logo as a stone sculpture featuring the David statue.

DNA's 50th Anniversary
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DNA's 50th anniversary

The 50th anniversary of DNA by Francis Crick and James D. Watson was celebrated with a double helix Google logo on April 24, 2003.

MC Escher's 105th birthday
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M.C. Escher's 105th birthday

The mind-bending designs of MC Escher were applied to the Google logo marking his 105th birthday on June 16, 2003.

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Heading to the moon

Google commemorated its Lunar X Prize, a private sector race to the moon -- sweetened by the prospect of a $30 million purse, on Oct. 4, 2004.

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NASA's Spirit rover lands on Mars

When NASA's rover Spirit landed on Mars on Jan. 15, 2004, Google naturally marked the historic event with a doodle.

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Vincent van Gogh

The Google logo was re-created as a post-Impressionist painting for Vincent van Gogh's 152nd birthday on March 29, 2005.

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Google in braille

The Google logo was redone in braille, the tactile writing system used by the blind and the visually impaired, for Louis Braille's 107th birthday on Jan. 4, 2006.

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Large Hadron Collider

On Sept. 10, 2008, the doodle commemorated the Large Hadron Collider, a high-energy particle collider in Switzerland that researchers have used to test different theories of particle physics and high-energy physics. It's also played a central role in the hunt to prove the existence of the Higgs-Boson, the sub-atomic particle that was predicted about a half century ago.

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50th anniversary of NASA

On July 29, 2008, the Google doodle commemorated the 50th anniversary of NASA's founding, which was an indirect response to the Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik 1, the world's first artificial satellite.

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The first laser

On May 16, 2008, Goggle's doodle marked 40 years since the day that physicist Theodore Maiman used a synthetic-ruby crystal to create the first laser.

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Parametron computer

This Google doodle on March 26, 2008, marked the creation of the Parametron Computer 1, developed in March 1958 by physics professor Hidetosi Takahasi at the University of Tokyo.

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50th anniversary of the Lego brick

This doodle on Jan. 28, 2008, marked the 50th anniversary of the Lego brick, established in Billund, Denmark, by master carpenter Ole Kirk Christiansen, who was aided by his 12-year-old son, Godtfred Kirk Christiansen.

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Happy New Year & 25 years of TCP/IP

On Jan. 1, 2008, the doodle was dedicated to the arrival of the new year, as well as to mark 25 years since the invention of Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP), the basic communication protocol for the Internet.

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Discovery of water on the moon

On Nov. 13, 2009, Google celebrated the discovery of water on the moon. The doodlers had only four hours to work on this from start to finish -- an exciting day for a doodler as well as for the world of science.

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Invention of the bar code

The doodle on Oct. 7, 2009, marked the creation of the bar code. The first patent for the bar code was issued to inventors Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver on Oct. 7, 1952.

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40th anniversary of moon landing

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the United States' Apollo 11 becoming the first manned mission to land on the moon on July 20, 1969, Google posted this doodle on July 20, 2009.

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Discovery of X-rays

This vibrant doodle from Nov. 8, 2010 marked the discovery of X-rays in 1895.

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Asteroid explorer Hayabusa returns

Asteroid explorer Hayabusa was launched May 9, 2003, and rendezvoused with the near-Earth asteroid named 25143 Itokawa in mid-September 2005. After arriving at Itokawa, Hayabusa studied the asteroid and then in November 2005, it landed on the asteroid and collected samples which were returned to Earth aboard the spacecraft on June 13, 2010, when this doodle was posted.

30th anniversary of Pac-Man
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30th anniversary of Pac-Man

On May 21, 2010, for the 30th anniversary of the Pac-Man video game, Google created one of the most popular doodles ever. This was an interactive doodle which blended the Google logo and Pac-Man into a fully playable game.

Marcin Wichary, senior UX designer and developer, recalls:"When I was growing up, my dad had the best job I could possibly imagine: He was an arcade game and pinball technician. For me, that meant summer trips through Poland's coastal cities with their seasonal arcade parlors; peeking inside cabinets to learn programming and engineering secrets; and, of course, free games!"

You can still play this doodle right here.

Hubble's 20th anniversary
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Hubble's 20th anniversary

Google celebrated the Hubble Space Telescope's 20th anniversary with this doodle on April 24, 2010.

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Pi Day

It doesn't get much nerdier than a Google doodle for Pi Day, commemorating the mathematical constant π (pi), March 14, 2010.

Parkes Observatory's 50th anniversary
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Parkes Observatory's 50th anniversary

This doodle celebrated Australia's Parkes Observatory's 50th anniversary on Oct. 31, 2011.

Pierre de Fermat's 410th birthday
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Pierre de Fermat's 410th birthday

Doodler Sophia Foster-Dimino posted to the Google blog on the occasion of Pierre de Fermat's 410th birthday on Aug. 17, 2011:

"Fermat wrote many little theorems, including the deceptively simple Last Theorem, which states that no three positive integers a, b, and c can satisfy the equation an + bn = cn when n is greater than two. Fermat first scrawled this supposition in the margins of the Arithmetica by Diophantus, followed by the note: 'I have discovered a truly marvelous proof of this, which this margin is too narrow to contain.' It remains hotly contested to this day whether Fermat actually did have a proof, or whether he was just using the convenient excuse of a small margin to avoid being held responsible for it. Either way, his theorem remained unproved until 1995, when British mathematician Andrew Wiles successfully developed a solution -- a saga documented in the excellent BBC Horizon documentary, 'Fermat's Last Theorem.' We were so tickled by Fermat's little jab that we tried something similar. When this doodle ran, the hover text read: 'I have discovered a truly marvelous proof of this theorem, which this doodle is too small to contain.'"

Total Lunar Eclipse
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Total lunar eclipse

On June 15, 2011, Google celebrated the total lunar eclipse with a doodle that incorporated live imagery.

Les Paul's 96th birthday
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Les Paul's 96th birthday

On June 9, 2011, for jazz guitarist Les Paul's 96th birthday, Google created one of the coolest doodles ever. Another interactive, playable logo, this time inspired by the guitar developed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee who made the sound of rock and roll possible.

This doodle was made with a combination of JavaScript, HTML5 Canvas to draw the guitar strings, CSS, Flash for sound, and tools like the Google Font API, goo.gl, and App Engine.

Google says that in the first 48 hours in the US, people playing music on the guitar doodle recorded 5.1 years' worth of music and 40 million songs using the doodle. And all those songs were played back 870,000 times!

50th anniversary of the first man in space
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50th anniversary of the first man in space

Commemorating the first human to travel in space, this doodle celebrated Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who entered the record books when he completed an orbit of the Earth on April 12, 1961.

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Another space-themed doodle: On Nov. 13, 2012, Google celebrated the anniversary of the first use of the Canadarm in space.

46th anniversary of Star Trek's 1st broadcast
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46 years of 'Beam me up, Scotty'

On Sept. 8, 2012, Google and Trekkies worldwide celebrated the 46th anniversary of Star Trek's first broadcast.

Amelia Earhart's 115th birthday
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Amelia Earhart's 115th birthday

The aviation-themed doodle on July 24, 2012, celebrated what would have been Amelia Earhart's 115th birthday.

79th anniversary of the first drive-in movie
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79th anniversary of the first drive-in movie

This doodle on June 6, 2012, celebrated the 79th anniversary of the first drive-in movie.

Robert Moog's 78th Birthday
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Robert Moog's 78th birthday

Another amazing musical doodle, on May 23, 2012, Google celebrated the 78th birthday of Robert Moog, who unleashed a new universe of sounds into musicdom with his invention of the electronic analog Moog Synthesizer, influencing a generation of music.

Joey Hurst, software engineer at Google, writes, "Much like the musical machines Bob Moog created, this doodle was synthesized from a number of smaller components to form a unique instrument. When experienced with Google Chrome, sound is generated natively using the Web Audio API -- a doodle first (for other browsers the Flash plugin is used). This doodle also takes advantage of JavaScript, Closure libraries, CSS3, and tools like Google Web Fonts, the Google+ API, the Google URL Shortener, and App Engine."

You can still give those knobs a spin and try the Moog Synthesizer for yourself!

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Heinrich Rudolf Hertz's 155th birthday

For Heinrich Rudolf Hertz's 155th birthday, the Google doodle took on an entirely new form on Feb. 22, 2012. Hertz was the first to conclusively prove the existence of electromagnetic waves by engineering instruments to transmit and receive radio pulses using experimental procedures that ruled out all other known wireless phenomena.

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On Jan. 18, 2012, Google posted a doodle in solidarity with those opposed to proposed legislation they said would have the effect of censoring the Web.

Roswell's 66th anniversary
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Roswell Incident's 66th anniversary

This storytelling doodle marks the 66th anniversary of the Roswell Incident and an alien, who, despite having mastered interstellar space travel, appears less than adept at making a smooth landing on Earth. Watch the whole doodle here.

Douglas Adams' 61st birthday
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Douglas Adams' 61st birthday

Douglas Adams, one of the most celebrated and beloved humorists of the 20th century, had an imagination that defied gravity and soared past Earth's atmosphere. As a young man, he famously got the first inkling of an idea for "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" while hitchhiking across Europe, pausing to contemplate the starry night sky. See the interactive doodle here.

Nicolaus Copernicus' 540th birthday
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Nicolaus Copernicus' 540th birthday

The doodle from Feb. 19, 2013, was a nod to astronomer and mathematician Nicolaus Copernicus, a shining star of the Renaissance. His major contribution to science is his heliocentric theory, which asserts that the sun is the center of our solar system.

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Loch Ness monster

On April 21, 2015, Google's doodlers offered an intriguing take on the mystery behind the Loch Ness monster.

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Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr was more than just a 1940s Hollywood movie star. She was also an inventor who helped developed technologies that made Wi-Fi possible today. On Nov. 9, 2015, the Google Doodle paid homage.

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Beethoven's 245th year

In honor of Ludwig van Beethoven, Google in December 2015 crafted a musical puzzle doodle. Play along and you can help the great composer overcome obstacles to put on a grand performance.

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Doodle Fruit Games

To mark the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Google launched a series of interactive doodles championing its own 2016 Doodle Fruit Games. Over two weeks, fruit such as coconuts, strawberries and watermelons from a fruit stand in Rio compete in races and other feats of skill, strength and stamina for the title of "freshest fruit."

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Election Day

In the days leading up to Election Day 2016 in the US, Google posted a series of doodles designed to remind people to get out and vote. It also linked to information about the measures and candidates on specific ballots, about voting locations and about how to vote in English and Spanish.

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Winter solstice

Twice a year, we get a solstice, one marking the start of summer and the other the start of winter. Actually, we get both at once twice a year, given the Earth's division into Northern and Southern hemispheres. On Dec. 20, 2016, Google marked the split-personality occasion with dueling doodles, a leafy, boisterous one for the onset of the southern summertime and another, pictured here, for the hunker-down shivery embrace of the northern winter.

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Valentine's Day

Nothing says Valentine's Day quite like a scaly mammal, right? In Google's eyes, it does, when two members of the endangered species find love and, presumably, the urge to reproduce. That's how the search giant rocked the romance to celebrate the day for sweethearts in February 2017.

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AI meets Bach

In March 2019, Google marked the 354th birthday of German composer Johann Sebastian Bach by launching its first-ever AI-powered Doodle, which harmonizes a melody of your own creation into Bach's Baroque style of music.

Google turned to machine learning to analyze more than 300 Bach compositions, and with the push of a button, the Doodle will use what it's learned to transform your two-measure melody.

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