Great Australian Inventions: Google Maps

Great Australian Inventions: Google Maps
April 9, 2020 Prime Engineering

As you may have discovered from our previous articles, Australia has been a catalyst for many spectacular inventions. So many of our daily applications in technology, engineering and medicine were born in our own backyard. Next up in the series at Prime Engineering, we’re highlighting Google Maps because let’s face it, we’d all be pretty lost without it!

Like most great things, 15 years ago Google Maps came from a brainstorming session on a whiteboard. It began with 2 brothers, Lars and Jens Rasmussen who were born in Denmark and found themselves trying to make it big in the global tech-hub, the Silicon Valley. The brothers had both spent their lives computer programming and unfortunately, due to the dot-com bust in the 2000’s, lost upwards of $40 million in start-up capital, with nothing to show for it. With only $16 between them, Lars headed back to Denmark to sleep on his mother’s couch while they were waiting to make their next big move.

With a burning motivation to not let their hard-earned years of work go to waste, they decided that they needed to come up with an invention together. This saw the birth of the company ‘Where 2’ formed. The idea behind Where 2, was something that no one else was using at the time, an online mapping platform. The brothers spent 6 months creating their prototype to take back to the silicon valley investors, only to quickly learn that there was no money to be handed out given the climate of the economy. This then saw the duo off to Sydney with the cheapest ticket they could find to meet their developer friends, Noel Gordon and Stephen Ma to get to work.

It was in Sydney where they stayed for 6 months, really accelerating the shape of Maps. The brothers had the seed, and their Australian friends had the minds to nurture and rebuild the model. This gave the brothers the opportunity to showcase their design for investors, which always fell through. While at the time it was a scary and hard path to navigate, their path ultimately led to Google buying the company, and keeping the 4 of them on to work on the project in the newly established Google Australia office. It was decided by all 4 partners that the brothers would be the public faces of Where 2, which evolved into Google Maps.

It’s hard to imagine what life would be like without Google Maps, it has paved the way for future technology to evolve and adapt, as well as positively benefiting the lives of millions of users across the globe. At Prime Engineering we’re constantly inspired by the hard work of inventors around the world, especially Australia. Contact us today if you have a project you would like us to help you with.