Google’s First Production Server

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...with the hair pulled back, revealing a rack of cheap networked PCs, circa 1999.

Each level has a couple of PC boards slammed in there, partially overlapping. This approach reflects a presumption of rapid obsolescence of cheap hardware, which would not need to be repaired. Several of the PCs never worked, and the system design optimized around multiple computer failures.

Larry and Sergey told me long ago that the beta system used Duplo blocks for the chassis because generic brand plastic blocks were not rigid enough.

We held an event at the Computer History Museum yesterday, and I noticed this new item in the collection. It pre-dates the Google Master Plan.

Charlie Evatt, sean dreilinger, and 264 other people added this photo to their favorites.

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  1. bullseyephoto 96 months ago | reply

    utterly disappointing!

  2. [deleted] 94 months ago | reply

    Google’s datacenters are just so amazing. Read:

  3. Mad Men Art 89 months ago | reply

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  4. amitp 83 months ago | reply

    If you look closely, the labels on the computers start with “jj”. Their first machines started with “a”. These weren't really the first “production servers”; it's described as the first “rack” though (meaning the first model, not the first one built).

  5. 83 months ago | reply

    hi its really gr8, they brought a new things with new invention, thats what they are the youngest billianares, superb.

  6. rosefirerising 80 months ago | reply

    To my health-oriented eye, it looks like an exposed belly beneath a rib cage.

  7. skytsui 79 months ago | reply


  8. biotron 73 months ago | reply

    a most interesting contribution. well said.

  9. rosefirerising 73 months ago | reply

    ;) Great picture tho, even if it does look a bit disemboweled. :)

  10. Jair Ribeiro BR 72 months ago | reply

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called The MVP on Flickr, and we'd love to have this added to the group!

  11. berta devant 56 months ago | reply

    uau! I bet they build it up themselves!

    You could think in presenting it to this contest! Imatoria - XXI Century Temples Everyone use and knows google nowadays, and mostly of the internet belongs to it! It could be considered as the internet temple!

  12. jaymasood 55 months ago | reply

    Thank you for sharing this under Creative Commons license.

    I have used it in my Travelogue of an Armchair Traveller as well as in Google Earth Community Forum and have given due credit to you.

    The travelogue is a non-profit ads free blog which I have created as a pastime and I do not derive any monetary benefit from it or from Google Earth Community Forum which is also ads free.


  13. Cartradeindia 51 months ago | reply

    It was the best snap of the history where we only think about the data. But could not understand the hard work which derived the result like this---> Awesome.
    Maruti Suzuki Kizashi

  14. McVaio 50 months ago | reply

    How did this get preserved? I can imagine they gradually replaced parts and threw the old hardware away.

  15. Shapeways: 45 months ago | reply

    Sweet, love that they used Duplo bricks to hold it together...

  16. tjames221 44 months ago | reply

    That is incredible! It's amazing how far we've come since then. I get the same feeling when I look at an Apple II-c. Can I use this photo in my post Social Media Club? Thanks!

  17. AlexTurton 40 months ago | reply

    shot. well done

  18. jurvetson 26 months ago | reply

    Some interesting historical detail from amitp about the racks:

    The "hh" rack was in the lobby of B42 for many years, and I guess it's now gone nomadic. The public can see its cousin, the "jj" rack, at The Computer History Museum.

    This is the "hh" rack [below], with machines hh1 through hh80. Originally they were in order, with hh1–4 on the top rack and hh77–80 on the bottom rack. However, looking at the photo, they've been shuffled a bit. Not sure why.
    "hh" was an early generation Google rack. Originally there was a1–a25 and c1–c4, and then they went through the alphabet, then started using double letters. Back then, machines were individually assigned to projects. I had been assigned hh4, and it treated me well — it was much better behaved than the other machines I had been assigned. They ran out of double letters and switched to two letters, then four (using the datacenter for two of them). As the number of machines grew, Google built systems to automate machine allocation and deallocation, so Googlers no longer grow attached to specific machines as I did to hh4.

    SciFoo 2012

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