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Alta went online in late 1995. It started in DEC's Research lab in Palo Alto, CA. 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." Other notable AltaVista inventions have included the first-ever multi-lingual search capability on the Internet and the first search technology to support Chinese, Japanese and Korean languages via its translator Babel Fish. It was the Web's first Internet machine translation service that can translate words, phrases or entire Web sites in English to and from Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian and Russian. Alta also has a multimedia search to explore the web for photos, videos and music, with an estimated index of over 90 million multimedia objects.

AltaVista Timeline
April 1995 AltaVista is conceived by Digital Equipment Corp. engineers. The idea was to develop a software "spider" to crawl the Web, indexing and presenting the information it found.
December 1995 AltaVista launched As it later turned out, this was a major blunder.
1996 AltaVista is provided exclusive provider status for Yahoo.
1997 Aborted attempt at an IPO by Digital (try 1).
1998 Digital is sold to Compaq. Many have speculated that Digital sold it to Compaq for a song ($1, dinner and a movie).
1999 Compaq plans an IPO for Alta (try 2).
1999 January, Alta became a wholly owned subsidiary of Compaq Computer Corporation. Compaq purchased in March and Zip2 Corporation in April of that year which are also heavily laced into the portal.
June 1999 Compaq pays a record $3.3million for the domain name.
Aug 1999 AltaVista is sold to CMGI announces IPO (try 3). All IPO’s fail. In August of 1999, CMGI, Inc. acquired 83% of our outstanding stock from Compaq, and and Zip2 became wholly owned subsidiaries of AltaVista. Later in 1999, AltaVista acquired Raging Bull,
June 2000 Flat-fee internet service in England is announced as a Hoax. UK Head Andy Mitchell quits saying he wants to spend time with his family (ya right, he was fired).
Nov 2000, Alta goes through two rounds of job cutting.
Oct 2000 Alta chief Rod Schrock quits saying wants to spend time with family (ya right, he was fired).
They recently added Ask Jeeves search technology in 1999 (you can now put questions to AltaVista instead of just keywords). After serving results to Yahoo in 1997, AltaVista briefly fed results to MSN but now is 100% on their woo It also features the Open Directory Project list of sites. Dumped Looksmart directory late in 1999 and picked them up again in mid 2000. Dumped ODP in late 1999.

AltaVista claims to have been awarded more search-related patents (60) than any other company in the world.

Oct 99 launched, Swedish site
December 1999, UK site
February 2000, French site
March 2000, Dutch site
April 2000, Italian site
July 2000, India site

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 search-and-retrieval void. In December of 1994, Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers, and Institutional Venture Partners invested in Excite with the purchase of a $4000 hard drive.

Went online in Dec 1995. In mid 1996, Excite acquired Magellan and later in 1996 also purchased WebCrawler. Excite also includes its directory service, Excite Channels. In October of 1995, Architext launched the Excite services. Exclusive distribution agreements were signed with Microsoft Network and Netscape. The company officially changed its name to Excite, Inc., and soon after went public with an initial offering of 2 million shares at $17 per share.

Users may also search specific news stories, however news stories are not archived and fall off of the system within a few weeks. Developed and run by Architext in California. It offers both keyword-based searching and also concept-based searching (it will not only search for the terms you type in but also similar terms). Excite also provides an interesting lineup of dynamic pages for various operating systems. There is a specific display for WebTV since webtv in rather unique - webtv users should use the LOOK=webtv option. Non WebTV users can try something like: this to see what the webtv folks are seeing. Excite has lost (mid 1999) its spot as the search engine of choice on AOL Netfind and on Netscape. Now (july 2000) using Looksmart for directory services.


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. It formerly used LookSmart for categorized directory of sites listings but has switched to The Open Directory Project in Mid 1999. Paul Gauthier and Eric Brewer at the University of California, Berkeley, originally created Inktomi. Hotbot also uses the Direct Hit click through data to manipulate results.


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. AOL bought it in mid 1995 and was then bought by Excite in late 96. Although owned by Excite, it still runs WC as a standalone search engine. Unique in that it is the only search engine to default to site summaries off. Webcrawler is noted as the first major search engine to author and use the Robots Exclusion Standard.

Derived 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.

There is an ever-changing list of Inktomi partners: HotBot, AOL Netfind, Yahoo, ICQ, iWon, GeoCities, Search MSN, GoTo, Snap, Aeneid, N2H2,,,, RadarUol, Yahoo, and Searchopolis. Inktomi is also huge in the server cache'ing business in Europe.

Not only noted for its powerful world wide search engine, there also are accomplished in the powerful technology of directory building via spidered page results. Their directory engine uses a technology called "Concept Induction™" to automatically analyze and categorize millions of documents. Concept Induction incorporates algorithms that model human conceptual understanding of information.

(8-25-2000) After toying with the whole site directory modle, Infoseek still spiders occasionally. It also is building a large directory of sites cross linked to search results (Go Directory).

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 It was rumored that Infoseek as a standalone search engine will cease with the start of GO - that did not come to pass. Infoseek briefly fed Cnets in 97-98.

Jan 1, 1999: Infoseek is now part of the Disney GO network having sold a full percentage stake to Disney.
Google recently (3-3-2000) added it's page rank algorythm to a branded edition of the Open Directory Project. On July 1, they announced that they would become the premier provider of search results for non-directory matches on Yahoo.

Running 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 currently lists 25million pages in its database, and is gearing up for a major crawl to put it over 100million pages. On Jun 3, 1999 Google received an influx of seed capital ($25 million) from Sequoia Captial. They have also cut their ties with Stanford and are now operating as a competely standalone engine. In mid 2000 they were choosen as the premier provider of search results on Yahoo.
Founded in January 1994, and went online in June 1994. The name Lycos comes from the Latin for "wolf spider.". There are standard search results via Lycos Pro, and categorized listings via WiseWire. Lycos was born from a research project at Carnegie Mellon University by Dr. Michael Mauldin. Infoseek is the first known internet company to base its advertising on CPM (cost per thousand page views) which in now industry standard.

In April 1996, Lycos, Inc. became a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ stock market system under the symbol LCOS. Having become a publicly traded company just 10 months after it was founded, Lycos holds the distinction of being the youngest company to go public in NASDAQ history.

In April 1998, Lycos acquired WiseWire Corporation (, whose was noted for their directory building software. WiseWire now powers the Lycos Web Guides, which are automatically and collaboratively built via user input. Other Lycos acquisitions.

They recently purchased Wired Digital - acquiring HotBot search engine in the process. It also has added the ODP directory to it's search lineup.

After a furious acquisition spree in 98-97, Lycos Network now consists of: Gamesville, Tripod, WhoWhere, Lycos Communications Angelfire, Hotbot, Hotwired, Wired News, Quote, Sonique, and Webmonkey. Offices in: Waltham, Mass. (headquarters); New York, N.Y.; Mountain View, Calif.; Dallas, Texas; Los Angeles, Calif.; San Francisco, Calif.; and Chicago, Ill. and Miami, Fla. International offices are located in Brazil, Germany, Italy, France, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the UK, Spain and The Netherlands.

Fast or 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. FAST is a spin-out of Opticom ASA, and was established on July 16, 1997. Fast Search & Transfer ASA (FAST) was formally established in Oslo, Norway, on July 16, 1997.

Fast is also noted as the only major search engine to currently (mid 2000) embrace PHP technology on its home page - which is also noted as the single coolest looking homepage of all search engine companies.

One of the oldest meta search services, MetaCrawler began in July 1995 at the University of Washington. MetaCrawler was purchased by go2net, an online content provider, in Feb. 97. The commercial backing has helped improve the responsiveness of the service. MetaCrawler now powers searches at the Go2Net portal site.
Backed by US television network CBS, iWon has a directory of web sites generated automatically by Inktomi, which also provides its more traditional crawler-based results. iWon gives away daily, weekly and monthly prizes in a marketing model unique among the major services. It launched in Fall 1999.
Web Wombat
The Web Wombat network, is one of the largest Australian based Search Engines and provides more than 1 million search queries per month.
The whatUseek collection provides over 1.3 million search queries per day and pride themselves on providing strong results per any search.
Search engines that play-the-game but are fed results by someone else’s database.
Northern Light
Northern 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 went online in August of 1997 with 30 employees. At the end of 1998, they had added precision search enhancements, advanced search forms, a real-time news, thousands of Special Collection publications, and millions of Web pages. Today that has nearly 200 employees.
GoTo was founded by idealab and Bill Gross. Goto was the first major search engine to succefully auction search results. It arrived on the net to a very luke warm if not hostile reception. However, Goto has earned a strong reputation with webmasters based upon quality business dealings. Goto has been rock solid in its customer relations over the years and made no apologies for selling results.

Goto uses Inktomi for non-paid search results, but only lists the first 15 hits. One of the lowest bandwidth (fast loading) search engines on the net. Purchased the World Wide Web Worm in early 1998 that was developed by Oliver McBryan in 1994 which was one of the first robot-driven search engines on the Web, however all scraps of wwww have been killed. GoTo's value as a legitimate search engine is marginal, and its validity is still in question due to the selling of keywords.

Goto is the only major search player to provide full directions to its home headquarters on its website (its the little things in life).

AOL NetFind
AOL is now using Inktomi for search results and the Open Directory project for directory results.

AOL formerly used (1996-1997) a cobranded version of Excite in North America. While across the pond in Europe, Aol used a version of Lycos for results.
Yet another of Cnet's site. This one has search results fed by Infoseek. There is also a small set of listings built by its own inhouse crawling left over from when first went online.


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