A Brief History of Search Engines

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Could you imagine the internet without Google? Even though I was using the internet long before Google was around – yes, I’m old – I really couldn’t. Where do most of us go when we’re looking for something and want information on it as soon as possible? For about 70% of us, that would be Google.



Now, that’s not to say that Bing isn’t used quite extensively, just that with Microsoft’s recent drop in support over the past 3 years or so they really don’t have the surfer sponsorship they used to.  Some say Bing is a much more robust search engine than Google and perhaps this has to do with the fact it’s been around for a bit longer than Google.  Of course, it was known as MSN back in the day.  Most aren’t aware of this, they believe Bing is one of the new kids on the block.

Yahoo Search

Now we get to one of the Grand Daddies of search engines – Yahoo.  Creating by David Filo and Jerry Yang and launched in 1994, Yahoo quickly became the go-to search engine.  Yahoo Search, as it is usually referred to as, was household name for most of us who surfed the internet in the 90’s.  Yahoo doesn’t have the popularity it used to have but is still used quite extensively by surfers around the globe today.

Here are a few other search engines which have either passed on into search engine heaven or developed into something else and I’m betting most people who read this post have never heard of.  Unheard of or not, knowing a bit about the history of search engines is a good thing.  After all, they helped develop the internet as we know and love today.

Archie Query Form

Archie Query Form was the very first search engine on the internet, being launched in 1990.  There wasn’t much to it really, relying on FTP hosted and downloadable directory listings.  Due to the lack of space, only listings were available.  I recall it being quite limited and rather slow.  My, how things have changed in 25 years.

Alta Vista

Alta Vista was launched in January of 1994, offering the first search engine with unlimited bandwidth.  Alta Vista also offered the first natural language search query availability, with soon had it ranking as one of the top search engines on the internet.  IT was my favorite engine back in the day.

Alta Vista was purchased by Overture in 2003 for $80 million in stock and $60 million in cash.  Yahoo took ownership of Overture in 2003.

Search Engines Are The Internet

Let’s face it, we couldn’t surf the internet properly without search engines.  There can be no argument there.  Whether you love or hate Google, Being or Yahoo, we wouldn’t be able to reach the pages we do every day without them.  They are the bread and butter of the internet, indeed.