Old Search Engines – Are They Still Alive?

The internet has evolved from a novelty to a necessity. It’s not just how we communicate, but also how we find information and do our jobs. We can’t be without it for even an hour, lest we risk missing out on a significant event or deadline. But what if you could go back in time?

What would life have been like before the internet became so omnipresent? Would you want to give up your broadband connection for lack of Wi-Fi? Probably not! So let’s take a look at where this ubiquitous technology came from and remember some of those early search engines that paved the way for today’s modern engine x

The History of Search Engine

The history of search engines dates back to 1990 when a Belgian computer engineer named Serge and an American software developer named Larry Page created the search engine called “BackRub.” Students at Stanford University used it to catalog web pages. Later, in 1996, Google was born.

In 1997, a large company called Yahoo! released its web directory. Then, other search engines like Altavista and Lycos first allowed users to type in commands to find information on the internet. These search engines may seem outdated now with today’s modern browsers; however, they were the first introduction to the world wide web and allowed us to browse through databases of information without ever leaving our computers.

Nowadays, people are more accustomed to using things like Google and Bing, which will enable them to do anything from booking an airline ticket to ordering food online.

But the first time you used a search engine, chances are it was one of these two!


Who Are They?

Google is the seventh most visited website in the world. It has several services like Gmail, YouTube, and Google Maps used by millions of people worldwide. Google’s mission is to organize all of the information on the internet and make it accessible and valuable, even if you’re not sitting at a desk with a modem.

Google has a lot of competition, especially from Yahoo!, Bing, and Microsoft’s search engines (Microsoft powers Bing).


What are search engines?

A search engine is a system that allows you to type in a search term and find the most relevant results for your question. There are different types of search engines, but two large-scale ones are Yahoo and Google.


Why search engines were invented

search engne creation x

The first search engine was named Arachne, created in 1990. It had no graphics but just a plain interface where you would type in your question, and it would give the answers to that specific question. Our search now wasn’t introduced until Tim Berners-Lee invented HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP), which is the primary language computers use to communicate with each other. This allows for linking between pages, and that’s when internet search engines began their boom.

If you’re familiar with storing information on a computer, then you may have come across FTP or File Transfer Protocol. For example, suppose you wanted to upload a picture from your laptop onto someone else’s computer (not google). You would type in a specific address that they provide you and then input your image onto it. The actual process is somewhat complicated, but all you see is the website URL on the user side.


How they work

Search engines are programs that search for information on the internet. They work by looking through different data databases and then using an algorithm to provide a list of results. Search engines can be used to get information from other websites worldwide and, in some cases, retrieve specific files from a website.

A typical search engine will scan a database of words, phrases, links, images, metadata, and other items to create a list of results ranked in order of relevance or significance for the user’s query. The first few results on the list are most appropriate for the user based on their query. Results may be scanned for relevancy based on usage statistics or past user queries by considering how specific words are searched together.


About Altavista and Lycos

Michael Mauldin created Lycos in 1994 with the help of researchers and graduate students at Carnegie Mellon University, led by Scott Hassan. It launched as a web portal in early 1995 – originally named “Mike’s Guide to the World Wide Web” – and was renamed in 1996.

Lycos also worked with Netscape to include a search box on the Netscape Navigator browser, which used Lycos’ web indexing rather than the then-dominant Infoseek engine. By 1998, it had become the most popular starting point for web users seeking information online in an era when search engines were starting to become widely used.


The Future of Search Engines

Future of search engine x

A lot has changed about our internet experiences since the days of Altavista and Lycos. The first popular search engines may seem outdated now that Google is a household name, but advancements in technology don’t always mean more efficient or better searches. That’s why this new infographic from explores how old-school search engines like these pioneered the way for Google to work better, faster and wiser.


How Old Search Engines Worked

Back in the day, when you wanted to research something, Altavista or Lycos was your best bet. A type of early search engine that scoured a database for relevant information, users would enter their search terms into a form via the site and wait for results to appear.

These early sites didn’t work with Google’s state-of-the-art algorithms, but they were popular because they worked extremely quickly. In addition, they took advantage of page copying techniques that allowed them to index websites, but in my opinion, just because the information is available doesn’t mean it’s necessarily correct.


The Current State of Old Search Engines

Old-school search engines are still out there, but they’re becoming less and less popular thanks to Google’s dominance in the market. However, there hasn’t been any word on whether these sites will disappear entirely or continue as niche search tools for specific industries. For example, Lycos is still in business today. However, it’s had to change its focus a bit and now offers search results for various interests, including sports, video games, and shopping, as opposed to just news or information.


How Google Works Better than Old Search Engines

How Google Works Better x

It seems crazy that we ever did anything without Googling it first. There’s a reason this search engine is the king of our internet experiences: It offers us what we’re looking for so quickly that we don’t even know how to thank it. Google goes above and beyond when it comes to squeezing information out of websites; most websites offer basic summary information, but Google does deeper searches, saving a lot of time.

Google is even better when it comes to helping us find videos online. When searching on Altavista or Lycos, you were lucky if a video popped up at all; Google gave them their own specific YouTube site, which allowed users the ability to stream and browse through different content in one place.


The Future of Old Search Engines

Google is the undisputed leader in search engines, and there’s no question that it will continue to rule for years to come. But here’s one last look back at old-school searching with this awesome infographic. Of course, there’s a lot of things that Google does better than these early search engines, but the internet wouldn’t have taken off as quickly without them.

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