General Electric Then, Google Now
I saw this GE ad from 1926 and it made me think of Google in 2009. In 1926, the world was figuring out the best ways to use electricity and was willing to pay for new appliances that would harness the power of electricity and help make people more productive. In 2009, the world is looking to leverage the web to make people more productive, to communicate in new ways and to solve problems in new ways (as Josh Kopelman has pointed out here).
If you read the text of this ad and replace “electricity” with “the web” and replace “the General Electric Company” with “Google” it would read like this:
“To make available tremendous power at the touch of a switch, to help lighten thousands of human tasks, and to increase production — these are the services of the web. Google makes apparatus by which the web performs its useful work…” Not quite a perfect parallel, but pretty close in my mind.