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If you like Sergey Brin and Larry Page's story, you might also like:
Timothy Berners-Lee,
Jeff Bezos,
Stephen Case,
Michael Dell,
Lawrence Ellison,
Bill Gates,
John Hennessy,
Ray Kurzweil
and Pierre Omidyar

Larry Page can also be seen and heard in our Podcast Center

Sergey Brin's recommended reading:
Snow Crash

Related Links:
History of Google
Official Google Bios
Forbes.com

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Larry Page
 
Larry Page
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Larry Page Interview

Founding CEO, Google Inc.

October 28, 2000
London, England

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  Larry Page

Larry Page, what is responsible for your early progress in life? How did you get to where you are so quickly?

Larry Page: I think I was really lucky to have the environment I did when I was growing up.


My dad was a professor, he happened to be a professor of computer science, and we had computers lying around the house from a really early age. I think I was the first kid in my elementary school to turn in a word-processed document. I just enjoyed using the stuff. It was sort of lying around, and I got to play with it. I had an older brother who was interested in it as well. So I think I had kind of a unique environment, that most people didn't have, because my dad was willing to spend all his available income on buying a computer or whatever. It was like 1978, when I was six. I don't think there's many people my age who've had that experience, or anyone in general. From a very early age, I also realized I wanted to invent things. So I became really interested in technology and also then, soon after, in business, because I figured that inventing things wasn't any good; you really had to get them out into the world and have people use them to have any effect. So probably from when I was 12, I knew I was going to start a company eventually.


How do you think you knew at such an early age that you wanted to be an inventor?


Larry Page: I just sort of kept having ideas. We had a lot of magazines lying around our house. It was kind of messy. So you kind of read stuff all the time, and I would read Popular Science and things like that. I just got interested in stuff, I guess, technology and how devices work. My brother taught me how to take things apart, and I took apart everything in the house. So I just became interested in it, for whatever reason, and so I had lots of ideas about what things could be built and how to build them and all these kinds of things. I built like an electric go-cart at a pretty early age.

[ Key to Success ] Passion


It's as if computers were the toys of your childhood.

Larry Page: Yeah, basically, and electronics too.

You mentioned reading magazines like Popular Mechanics. What else did you read that might have influenced or inspired you in some way?


Larry Page: I read all the computer magazines and things like that, and I was sort of interested in how these things really work -- anything having to do with the mechanics behind things, either the mechanics or the electronics. I wanted to be able to build things. Actually, in college I built an inkjet printer out of Legos, because I wanted to be able to print really big images. I figured you could print really big posters really cheaply using inkjet cartridges. So I reverse-engineered the cartridge, and I built all the electronics and mechanics to drive it. Just sort of fun projects. I like to be able to do those kinds of things.

[ Key to Success ] Passion


Larry Page Interview Photo
You certainly have an aptitude for it. Is this because of your early education or your parents? How do you explain that?

Larry Page: Actually, my brother was nine years older than me, and he went to Michigan as well. He brought home some of his labs for electronics and things like that, and sort of gave them to me. I learned how to do the stuff. I think there were a lot of lucky things like that.

You seem to have had no fear of any of this. Where does this self-confidence come from?

Larry Page: I think that's true of kids today as well. If you have access to these things at a really young age, you just become used to it all, and it is natural to you. Kids certainly don't have fear of using computers now. It's the same kind of thing. If you grow up in environments where you have ICs (integrated circuits) lying around, you don't have fear of that either.


Larry Page Interview Photo
And here you are now, a CEO at what age?

Larry Page: I'm 27.

Let's turn to your partner, Sergey Brin, for a moment. Sergey, how old are you now?

Sergey Brin: Twenty-seven.

What do you think influenced or inspired you to do what you have at such a young age?

Sergey Brin: I certainly like to think I'm young, but these days by Silicon Valley standards, I'm getting to be over the hill. If you look at Napster, for example, the founder is what? Twenty?



I was really interested in computers ever since I got one, when I was in elementary school. Eventually, I went on to join the Ph.D. program in computer science at Stanford. Those purely, the interest of what can you do with all of the world's information -- now that it's online -- that interest spawned Google. And that was together with Larry Page, who is my co-founder and partner.


As a kid growing up, what or who has influenced you the most, Sergey?


Sergey Brin: I think as a kid, I always had a kind of scientific curiosity. I was always interested in mathematics, and I always enjoyed doing math problems. In fact, my undergrad, I had a degree in both math and computer science. I think, eventually, I was really inspired by computers because of the amazing power that they give you. Today's PCs do a billion operations per second. It's almost inconceivable, and I think that was the most inspiring thing to me, how you could leverage that to actually produce something that was useful, beyond video games and things like that.


At what age would you say you had this realization?

Larry Page Interview Photo
Sergey Brin: In middle school, I had very good friend who I'm still in touch with, he had a Macintosh, one of the early ones, and he and I would just sit and play around and program. We had little programs for artificial intelligence. We'd have a program that would talk back to you. We wrote a program to simulate gravity. I remember we wrote a program to do what's called "OCR" now, optical character recognition. It was just for fun, purely out of intellectual curiosity. I think that's probably the first time I really experienced that.

So this is what you did in your spare time. This is what you did for fun.

Sergey Brin: I have to admit I was a bit of a nerd. I still am.

Do you have siblings?

Sergey Brin: I have a brother who is 13, and that's a big age difference, obviously. Maybe I've turned him away from computers and technical fields. He wants to be completely different. His interests are more in sports and languages these days.

Were there any particular books that were especially important to you along the way?

Sergey Brin: I remember really enjoying (Richard) Feynman's books. He had several autobiographical books, and I read them. It seemed like a very great life he led. Aside from making really big contributions in his own field, he was pretty broad-minded. I remember he had an excerpt where he was explaining how he really wanted to be a Leonardo, an artist and a scientist. I found that pretty inspiring. I think that leads to having a fulfilling life. Beyond that, just within the computer field, there are classical books I still find impressive, like Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. That was really ten years ahead of its time. It kind of anticipated what's going to happen, and I find that really interesting.

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