Over the past two decades there have been a myriad of creative, often poignant designs, celebrating birthdays of historical figures and historical landmarks of both global and local significance. Here are 20 of the most memorable:
Burning Man Festival
The very first Google Doodle came on 30 August 1998, when Larry Page and Sergey Brin added a stick figure behind the logo’s second O to notify users they were at Burning Man Festival, in case their servers crashed.
Doodle 4 Google 2005
As well as engaging professional illustrators and animators, Google has opened the world of Doodles to children with annual competitions, starting with the UK’s Lisa Wainaina in 2005.
Discovery of Water on the Moon
Doodles can take weeks of work, but given that they often mark annual events their creators have plenty of warning – this design, though, reacting to the discovery of water on the moon in 2009, took just four hours.
Claude Debussy’s 151st Birthday
To pay tribute to brilliant French composer Claude Debussy, Google created a beautiful city at night scene digitally animated to his seminal “Clair de Lune”, which played alongside the design.
John Lennon’s 70th birthday
John Lennon’s 70th birthday in 2010 was marked with Google’s first ever video doodle, an elegant black and white animation set to “Imagine”.
150th anniversary of the London Tube
Google marked the London Underground’s 150th birthday with a brilliantly conceived and almost-accurate version of the iconic Tube map.
121st anniversary of the first Japanese rail timetable
While many of the events celebrated by Google are global in scale, some are a little more niche. Perhaps there’s no better example than the bizarrely intricate design to commemorate the… 121st birthday of Japan’s railway timetables.
Certain events are commemorated by Google every year, with Halloween marked with an annual Doodle since 1999 and spawning the first animated design the following year – this spooky example is from 2008.
Bram Stoker’s 165th birthday
Sticking with the horror theme, this intricately-drawn Doodle celebrating Bram Stoker’s birthday in 2012 pays tribute to the author’s most famous character: Count Dracula.
France’s 2018 World Cup win
Google marked every day of the 2018 World Cup with a different Doodle design, culminating in this (only visible to users in France) commemorating the tournament’s winners.
Valentine’s Day 2017
To mark Valentine’s Day 2017 Google embarked on an ambitious Doodle game with four levels spread across four days, featuring the endangered pangolin.
Robert Moog’s 78th birthday
In a fitting tribute to Robert Moog, the inventor of the Moog Synthesizer, Google gave users the chance to celebrate his 78th birthday by recording and saving songs on an animated replica of his famous creation.
Charlie Chaplin’s 122nd birthday
The search giant went all out to celebrate Charlie Chaplin’s birthday, with a special live-action silent movie featuring the Google Doodle team.
Alan Turing’s 100th birthday
To mark the centenary of the brilliant codebreaker in 2012 Google created a design featuring an animated Turing machine with 12 interactive puzzles to complete.
Earth Day 2012
For the 2012 iteration of Earth Day, the annual environmental awareness event, Google opted to forego computer wizardry to grow their own real-life Doodle out of flowers.
Google commemorated the 30th birthday of one of gaming’s most iconic characters with their first ever playable Doodle, brightening up the day for office workers across the world.
Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary
To mark the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, Google created a simple but striking game Doodle featuring all 11 Doctors (up to that point) and, of course, Daleks.
Oskar Fischinger’s 117th birthday
To honour the musician and animator Oskar Fischinger Google released an interactive, full-screen design which allowed users to create and share their own pieces of music.
The French illusionist and film director Georges Méliès provided Google with a fitting opportunity to create their first ever VR, 360° Doodle earlier this year, representing the worlds he created in his films.
Google’s 20th Birthday
For its 20th birthday, Google has released a commemorative video Doodle exploring some of the most popular searches in the engine’s all-conquering history.