The grandfather of all
search engines was Archie, created in 1990 by Alan
Emtage, a student at McGill University in Montreal. The author
originally wanted to call the program "archives,"
but had to shorten it to comply with the Unix world standard
of assigning programs and files short, cryptic names such
as grep, cat, troff, sed, awk, perl, and so on. For more information
on where Archie is today, see: http://www.bunyip.com/products/archie/
... Archie is short for "Archives" but the programmer
had to conform to UNIX standards of short names. Archie
- A long-established (read: antiquated) way to find files
on the Internet, Archie is a system that gathers, indexes,
and helps you find information anywhere on the Internet. Developed
at McGill University, Archie started life as an indexed directory
of files from archives. However, Archie is a slow boy, and
his findings depend on how well maintained the Archie server
he connects to is. Found files are retrieved using ftp (file
Gopher is like FTP, but for documents instead of files.
Gopher servers contain plain-text documents (no images, no
hypertext) that can be retrieved. Archie's popularity had
grown such that in 1993, the University of Nevada System Computing
Services group developed Veronica(5) (the grandmother of search
engines). It was created as a type of searching device similar
to Archie but for Gopher files. Another Gopher search service,
called Jughead, appeared a little later, probably for the
sole purpose of rounding out the comic-strip triumvirate.
Jughead is an acronym for Jonzy's Universal Gopher Hierarchy
Excavation and Display, although, like Veronica, it is probably
safe to assume that the creator backed into the acronym. Jughead's
functionality was pretty much identical to Veronica's, although
it appears to be a little rougher around the edges. Gopher
- Named after a college mascot--and for its ability to
"go for" information--Gopher is a text-based information
retrieval system for the Internet. Equipped with a Gopher
client, you can use Gopher servers to search databases around
the globe for keywords or subjects. Because Web browsers include
Gopher client capabilities, the Web is superseding Gopher
for document retrieval. One advantage of searching with Gopher
is that you can read stuff directly from the servers--no need
to copy or save the files to your system first.
public search engine, Excite, has roots that extend
rather far back in the history of the web. Initially, the
project was called Architext; it was started by six Stanford
undergraduates in February 1993. Their idea was to use statistical
analysis of word relationships in order to provide more efficient
searches through the large amount of information on the Internet.
Founders Mark Van Haren, Ryan McIntyre, Ben Lutch, Joe Kraus,
Graham Spencer, and Martin Reinfried The five hackers and
one political science major set off at once for the Stanford
library to research the best way in which to fill the information
and a Yippity tai-yai-yay!
At this stage in the game, people were creating pages of links
to their favorite documents. In April 1994, two Stanford University
Ph.D. candidates, David Filo and Jerry Yang, created some
pages that became rather popular. They called the collection
of pages Yahoo! Their official explanation for the name choice
was that they considered themselves to be a pair of yahoos.
The name Yahoo! is supposed to stand for "Yet Another
Hierarchical Officious Oracle," but Filo and Yang
insist they selected the name because they considered themselves
yahoos. Yahoo! itself first resided on Yang's student workstation,
"akebono," while the search engine was lodged on
Filo's computer "konishiki" (both machines were
named after legendary Hawaiian sumo wrestlers).
WebCrawler: Some Spider!
WebCrawler went online way back in the spring, 1994. It is
another one of the search engines that was started as a research
project - this one at the University of Washington developed
by Brian Pinkerton. ... As bots got better and better, one
rose above the pack with its unique ability to index
the entire text of a web page. Other bots were storing the
title and the URL, and the first 100 or so words of a document,
but it was WebCrawler that first allowed the user to search
the full text of entire documents.
was indeed the next big kid on the block, bursting out of
the labs at Carnegie Mellon University during the July of
1994. The name Lycos comes from the Latin for "wolf spider."
The person responsible for unleashing this force onto the
world is Michael Mauldin. He is currently on leave from CMU,
acting as Chief Scientist at Lycos, Inc. In a paper describing
design decisions made while programming Lycos, he gives a
very nice history of the service. Lycos is named for Lycosidae, the Latin name for the wolf spider family. Unlike other spiders that sit passively in their web, wolf spiders are hunters, actively stalking their prey.
of Infoseek, another major search engine, say that
they founded their corporation in January 1994. Although this
may be true, the search engine itself was not accessible until
much later that year. Went online in August 1995 as a directory
service. However, in late 96, a new full indexing search engine
called Ultra went online with 25million URLS. In 1999 a 45%
stake of Infoseek was purchased by Disney and is in the process
of building a new site called GO.com.
AltaVista is Spanish for "high view." The search engine was originally launched in 1995 as a subdomain of Digital Equipment's web site, as www.altavista.digital.com. As AltaVista's popularity soared, most people trying to find it instead landed at the web site of Alta Vista Technology, Incorporated (ATI), which had launched the altavista.com domain in 1994.
The idea for
the name AltaVista originally came from a laboratory white
board that had been partially erased. The word Alto (of Palo
Alto) was juxtaposed beside the word Vista and someone called
out, "How about AltoVista!" which led to the name
AltaVista, meaning "The view from above." ... Digital
Equipment Corporations (DEC) AltaVista was a
latecomer to the scene; it had its online debut in December
1995. Nonetheless, it had a number of innovative features
that quickly catapulted it to the top. The least of the features
was its speed. Run on a bunch of DEC Alphas, it had the horsepower
to handle millions of hits per day without slowing down in
On the May 20, 1996, Inktomi Corporation was formed, and HotBot
was unleashed upon the world. This is the youngest of all
of the major search services, but even at its young age, it
has already caused quite a stir in the online community. According
to the company: "Pronounced ink-to-me, the
company name is derived from a mythological spider of the
Plains Indians known for bringing culture to the people. Inktomi
was founded in January 1996 by Eric Brewer, an assistant professor
of computer science at the University of California at Berkeley,
and Paul Gauthier, a graduate student in the computer science
Ph.D. program, with a desire to commercialize the highly-effective
technologies developed during their research. (www.inktomi.com/press/icf-pr.html)"
... Went online in May 1996. HotBot was owned and operated
by Wired Magazine, but Wired Digital was recently purchased
by Lycos. Search results are served by the Inktomi database.
was developed in 1995 by Eric Selburg, a Masters student at
the University of Washington (the same place where WebCrawler
was developed a few years earlier). Like WebCrawler, MetaCrawler
soon grew too large for its university britches and had to
be moved to another site.
Ask Jeeves The idea behind Jeeves was not to create yet another search engine or directory, but to offer a question-answering service -- a virtual online concierge. Accordingly, the service was named after P.G. Wodehouse's butler character "Jeeves."
severely shaken and battered by Microsofts free release
of a competing web browser (Internet Explorer), decided to
concentrate on the new phenomenon of the intranet. Corporations
wanted to use web technology to facilitate document sharing
within their own corporate networks. These corporations also
wanted to be able hide these documents from the rest of the
web, yet provide their employees with the same search capabilities
offered on the web. Search engine companies now had a market
for their product, which initially capitalized on the advertising
industry for revenue. Although there were a number of freely
available search engines, corporations such as Digital Equipment
and Infoseek capitalized on the lack of programmers who understood
web administration and priced technical support and service
into their commercial search engine packages.
from a search engine developed at UC Berkeley. Inktomi
was founded in 1996 by two University of California at
Berkeley researchers Eric Brewer and Paul Gauthier. Working
on a federally-funded project, the computer scientists developed
a way to achieve supercomputing power at microcomputer prices.
The company's name, pronounced "INK-tuh-me," is
derived from a Lakota Indian legend about a trickster spider
character. Inktomi is known for his ability to defeat larger
adversaries through wit and cunning.
as a research project at Stanford University, Google
has been online since late 1997. In mid 1999 recieved a $20
million dollar investment of seed capital that has helped
it land the top spot on Netscapes Netcenter. Google offers
some of the most unique results of any search engine. Using
a system called PageRank, Google filters a large portion of
the irrelevant results. It also has a builtin bias towards
EDU and GOV sites that is a refreshing change from the other
.com spam laden search engines.
Google is a variation of "googol," the mathematical term for a 1 followed by 100 zeros.
While the Open Directory Project is about as bland as you can get, its original name was much more colorful. Initially called NewHoo (or GnuHoo, a tip of the hat toward the open source movement that inspired the directory), it was renamed after the directory was purchased by Netscape, bowing to pressure from Yahoo. Yahoo's attorneys, it seemed, felt the original name was a bit too similar to its own.
These days, the Open Directory is most commonly referred to by its initials, ODP.
Overture changed its name from GoTo on October 8, 2001. "Overture is an introduction, and we feel that's what we do as a company," said GoTo's chief operating officer Jaynie Studenmund at the time. "We also felt it was a sophisticated enough name, in case our products expand," a telling hint of the acquisitions of AlltheWeb and AltaVista in 2003.
or AllTheWeb.com is owned and operated by Fast Search &
Transfer ASA technologies. It went online in mid 1998 with
one of the largest databases seen at that time. One of their
mainstays has been the development of Multimedia specific
search engines. They have one of the largest databases of
FTP urls for mp3, wav, ra, and other multimedia filetypes
available. They fed not only FTP search results but also webpage
results to Lycos. The company was originally called Fast Internet
Transfer. FAST is used as an acronym for Fast Search &
Transfer. AlltheWeb took its name from the original mission of its creator, FAST Search and Transfer of Norway -- to provide the most comprehensive index of the world wide web.
Light went online in the fall of 1997. NL currently has one
of the largest databases on the internet in its directory
by using its crawler Gulliver. This once potential star has
never produced users and is generally ignored by webmasters
as a source of referrals. Northern Light started in 1995 in
the basement of an old mill building in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
A year and a half later NorthernLight.com went online in August
of 1997 with 30 employees.
Teoma means "expert" in Gaelic, a reference both to the search engine's ability to analyze the web in terms of local communities, and to the portion of its search results called "Resources: Link collections from experts and enthusiasts."
LookSmart is a double entendre, referring both to its selective, editorially compiled directory, and as a complement to users who are savvy enough to "look smart." LookSmart
went online in Oct. 1996. It currently lists over 600,000
sites in its directory database. LookSmart provides categorized
directory listings for AltaVista, HotBot and over 1000 internet
access sellers (ISP's). LookSmart was funded by Reader's Digest
until late 97 when a group of company investors bought out
the RD share.