As Google CEO Larry Page looks backward, he’s realizing how much his musical education inspired critical elements of Google—especially his impatience and obsession with speed.
“In some sense I feel like music training lead to the high-speed legacy of Google for me,” Page said during a recent interview with Fortune. “In music you’re very cognizant of time. Time is like the primary thing.”
Page, who grew up in Michigan, played saxophone and studied music composition while growing up. During college at the University of Michigan, he developed a business plan for a company that would use software to build a music synthesizer. That project, which required the software to work in real time, opened his eyes to a what he saw as a flaw in the software that powers most computers.
“It’s amazing to the extent I think that modern operating systems are terrible at being real-time,” Page said. “If you think about it from a music point of view, if you’re a percussionist, you hit something, it’s got to happen in milliseconds, fractions of a second.”
“I do think there is an important artistic component in what we do,” he said. “As a technology company I’ve tried to really stress that.” Page says he learned to appreciate that “artistic component,” in part through music.