From Archie to Google: Fascinating History of Search Engines


Updated: 26 Apr 2023

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Search engines have changed the way we find what we’re looking for online by giving us access to a wide range of information with just a few clicks.

From Archie’s early days to today’s complicated algorithms, search engines have come a long way to make the internet easier to use. 

Table of Content
  1. What is Search Engine?
  2. Purpose of Search Engines
  3. Use of Search Engine
  4. History of Search Engines
    1. Archie's 1990 Adventures: A Look Back in Time
    2. The Rise of Veronica: A Pioneering Search Engine
    3. Jughead's Journey: A Look Back at 1993
    4. The Rise of Lycos: The Early Days of Search Engines
    5. Excite: The First Steps in Online Searching
    6. The Rise and Fall of Yahoo!: A Tale of Search Engine History
    7. The Rise and Fall of the Pioneering AltaVista Search Engine
    8. The Ask Jeeves Legacy: A Tribute to a Pioneering Search Engine
    9. Google: The Search Engine That Changed the Game
    10. From Russia with Search: The History of Yandex
    11. Uncovering the History of Baidu: The Beginning of Search Engine Era in China
    12. From Zero to Hero: The Story of StartPage Search Engine
    13. The Rise of DuckDuckGo: A Champion of Online Privacy
    14. The Evolution of WolframAlpha: From Its Birth to Its Impact
    15. The Bing Effect: How Microsoft Changed the Game in the Search Industry
  5. Which Search Engine Is The Most Powerful?
  6. FAQs
  7. Conclusion 

This blog post will examine search engines’ history, technology, and future and how they have impacted our ability to navigate the digital world.

What is Search Engine? 

A search engine is a piece of software that searches and retrieves data from the internet. The significance of search engines lies in their ability to help users quickly and easily find the information they seek. 

Search engines use complicated algorithms to crawl and index billions of web pages. This lets users search for specific keywords and find relevant information in seconds.

Search engines are essential today because they allow people to access global information and resources. Individuals, businesses, and organizations use them to find and share information, connect with others, and conduct research.

Purpose of Search Engines 

Search engines have revolutionized how we use and access data on the internet. From small businesses to large corporations, they are now considered a critical component of day-to-day operations in our digital age.  The primary purpose of search engines is to help users find the information they seek on the internet. 

They make it easier for users to get information quickly and accurately – eliminating pesky barriers like geographical borders or traditional research methods that are used to slow down such processes! 

With search engines helping people invoke challenging datasets while connecting – finding information has never been so effortless!

Use of Search Engine 

Ever felt like you needed a personal librarian to help find information on the internet?

Search engines are here for that!

Search engines are online card catalogs where users can quickly and easily locate websites based on titles, authors, or topics – all with keywords, so if your research needs more detailed information, just a few clicks away!

Here is how you can best utilize your library. 

  • When you type a question or a few keywords into a search engine, it will scan through billions of websites and return a list of the most relevant results. 
  • This makes it incredibly easy to find precisely what you are looking for a news article, a recipe, a product, or even a random fact.
  • Search engines are also great for finding new things, from discovering new websites to exploring new products, services, or interests.
  • You can use them to find answers, shopping deals, read reviews or even get directions.
  • In short, search engines are a tool that makes our digital life easy, fun, and efficient. 
  • They help us find information, connect with others, and discover new things online.

So next time you use a search engine, think of it as your librarian, helping you navigate the vastness of the internet.

History of Search Engines 

The history of search engines may be traced back to the earliest days of the World Wide Web, in the 1990s. Due to the fast growth of online content, early search engines like Archie, Veronica, and Jughead had to be made.

This section will cover the invention and evolution of the top 15 search engines in great detail. 

  1. Archie (1990)
  2. Veronica (1992)
  3. Jughead (1993)
  4. Lycos (1994)
  5. Excite (1994)
  6. Yahoo! (1994)
  7. AltaVista (1995)
  8. Ask Jeeves (1996)
  9. Google (1998)
  10. Yandex (1997)
  11. Baidu (2000)
  12. StartPage (2006)
  13. DuckDuckGo (2008)
  14. WolframAlpha (2009)
  15. Bing (2009)

1. Archie’s 1990 Adventures: A Look Back in Time

  • Alan Emtage, a student at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, created Archie in 1990.
  • It was the first search engine to index FTP site file names.
  • Archie used a simple keyword-based search and returned a list of file names that matched the user’s query.
  • The name “Archie” was a play on the word “archive” and the name of the fictional character Archie Andrews from the Archie comics.
  • The Archie search engine was initially run on a single computer at McGill University.
  • As the internet grew in the 1990s, Archie’s popularity grew.
  • In 1991, the Archie servers were moved to the Computer Science Department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
  • Archie was eventually replaced by more advanced search engines such as AltaVista, Yahoo, and Google, which used web crawling and indexing to provide more comprehensive and relevant search results.
  • Archie retired in 2010 and is no longer in operation.

2. The Rise of Veronica: A Pioneering Search Engine

  • Veronica, which stands for “Very Easy Rodent-Oriented Net-wide Index to Computerized Archives,” was a search engine for Gopher before the web.
  • It was developed by the same team that created Archie and was released in 1992.
  • Like Archie, Veronica indexed file names and allowed users to search for specific files on Gopher servers.
  • Veronica used a simple keyword-based search and returned a list of file names that matched the user’s query.
  • It was named after the fictional character Veronica Lodge from Archie comics.
  • On the other hand, Gopher servers were not as popular as World Wide Web servers, so people gradually stopped using the Gopher protocol and the Veronica search engine.
  • The web started gaining more popularity in the early 1990s, leading to the decline of Gopher and the search engines that indexed it.
  • When the World Wide Web and web search engines like AltaVista, Yahoo, and Google became the primary way to find information online, fewer people used Gopher, and Veronica became less popular.
  • Veronica is no longer in operation.

3. Jughead’s Journey: A Look Back at 1993

  • Jughead was a web search engine made by the Internet Archive in 1993. The Internet Archive is a non-profit that tries to keep old internet content online.
  • Jughead was one of the first web search engines, and it was notable for its ability to search through large amounts of data quickly.
  • Jughead had a simple text-based interface and used a database of URLs that the internet Archive manually indexed.
  • Researchers and academics used Jughead to study how the early web came to be.
  • Even though Jughead was popular initially, it was shut down in the late 1990s because other, more advanced search engines, such as Google and Yahoo, had emerged.
  • The Internet Archive is still strong and has saved many older versions of the Jughead search engine from being used in the future. 

4. The Rise of Lycos: The Early Days of Search Engines

  • In 1994, Carnegie Mellon University created Lycos, a web search engine.
  • Lycos was one of the first popular search engines on the internet, and it quickly got a lot of users.
  • Lycos used a complex algorithm to rank web pages based on their relevance to a user’s query, making it one of the first search engines to use this approach.
  • Lycos offered other services like email, web hosting, and online communities.
  • In 1998, Terra Networks, a Spanish company that works in telecommunications, paid $12.5 billion to buy Lycos.
  • In the early 2000s, Lycos struggled to compete with newer search engines like Google and Yahoo, and its market share and user base declined.
  • Ybrant Digital, an Indian digital marketing company, bought Lycos in 2010, and it is still in business today as a web portal and a provider of digital media. Still, it is not as well-known as it once was. 

5. Excite: The First Steps in Online Searching

  • Excite was a search engine for the web that six people made at Stanford University in 1994.
  • Excite quickly gained popularity due to its fast search results and user-friendly interface.
  • Excite used a secret algorithm to put web pages according to how well they answered a user’s search.
  • Excite offered other services like email, web hosting, and online communities.
  • In 1996, Excite was acquired by the media company @Home Network for $6.7 billion.
  • In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Excite struggled to compete with newer search engines like Google and Yahoo, and its market share and user base declined.
  • In 2001, Excite was acquired by Ask Jeeves, another search engine company, and rebranded as Excite@Home.
  • Excite@Home filed for bankruptcy in 2001, and various companies acquired its assets, effectively ending the Excite search engine.

6. The Rise and Fall of Yahoo!: A Tale of Search Engine History

  • Yahoo Search was first released in 1994 as a list of websites grouped by type.
  • In 1996, Yahoo began using Inktomi’s search technology to provide full-text search results.
  • In the late 1990s, Yahoo Search became one of the most popular search engines on the internet.
  • Yahoo bought Overture in 2002. The Overture was the company that came up with the idea of paid search advertising.
  • Yahoo and Google started working together in 2004 to provide search results, but Yahoo kept the option to sell ads on its search results pages.
  • In 2005, Yahoo Search became the default search engine for Firefox.
  • Yahoo continued to grow and expand its services, such as email, news, and finance.
  • Throughout the 2000s, Yahoo’s search market share remained steady, but it started declining as Google’s search market dominance grew.
  • In 2008, Yahoo announced that it would no longer be using Google’s search technology and would instead be powered by its technology, Yahoo Search BOSS.
  • In 2010, Yahoo and Microsoft announced they would collaborate to use Bing to power Yahoo’s search results.
  • Yahoo said in 2012 that it would stop using its search technology and switch to Bing’s technology instead.
  • Throughout the 2010s, Yahoo’s search market share significantly declined as Google and Bing dominated the search market.
  • Verizon bought Yahoo’s search and advertising businesses in 2016, and they became a part of Verizon’s new business, Oath.
  • In 2021, Verizon Media said it would sell its media assets, such as Yahoo, to Apollo Global Management, a private equity firm. 

7. The Rise and Fall of the Pioneering AltaVista Search Engine

  • AltaVista was a web search engine developed in 1995 by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC).
  • AltaVista was known for its advanced search capabilities, including Boolean operators, proximity searching, and its extensive index of web pages.
  • AltaVista was one of the first search engines to use a crawler-based algorithm to index web pages, allowing it to have an extensive and comprehensive web index.
  • AltaVista was popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s, with a market share of over 50% at its peak.
  • In 1999, Compaq bought DEC; in 2003, Yahoo paid $140 million to buy AltaVista.
  • After Yahoo bought AltaVista, they slowly stopped using it in favor of Yahoo Search, their search engine.
  • AltaVista’s web search service was officially shut down in 2013, and the brand and some of its technologies were used for other purposes, such as enterprise search solutions or e-commerce.

8. The Ask Jeeves Legacy: A Tribute to a Pioneering Search Engine

  • Ask Jeeves (later known as Ask.com) was launched in 1996 as a question-answering search engine.
  • Users could submit natural language queries, such as “How to search engine work?” and Ask Jeeves would return a relevant answer.
  • In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Ask Jeeves became a popular alternative to the dominant search engines of the time, such as Yahoo and Google.
  • Ask Jeeves changed its name to Ask.com in 2005 and switched to a more traditional model for a search engine, emphasizing search marketing and paid results more.
  • In 2007, Ask.com acquired the online dictionary and reference website Dictionary.com.
  • In 2010, Ask.com announced that it would no longer provide its search results but instead use results from other search engines, such as Google.
  • Throughout the 2010s, Ask.com’s search market share declined as Google and Bing dominated the search market.
  • In 2018, Ask.com was acquired by IAC (InterActiveCorp), which made it a part of the Match Group, an IAC subsidiary that includes dating sites such as Match.com and OkCupid.
  • Today, Ask.com is a minor player in the search market, but it still provides users with search results, question-answering, and other features.
  • Ask.com is still around and is still providing services to its users.

9. Google: The Search Engine That Changed the Game

  • Larry Page and Sergey Brin started Google in 1998 while both got their Ph. D.s at Stanford University.
  • Google’s first goal was to organize all the information in the world and make it valuable and easy for everyone to find.
  • This company’s search algorithm, called PageRank, was based on ranking web pages by the number and quality of links pointing to them.
  • Google quickly became popular because its search results were more accurate and useful than other search engines.
  • In 2001, Google said it had indexed one billion pages, making it the biggest search engine on the internet.
  • In 2004, Google had its first initial public offering (IPO), which means it sold shares of a private company to the public for the first time in a new stock offering.
  • Google kept coming up with new ideas and making its services, like Gmail, Google Maps, and Google News, bigger and better.
  • Throughout the 2000s and 2010s, Google’s search market share continued to grow as it became the dominant search engine on the internet.
  • In 2015, Google reorganized itself into a holding company, Alphabet Inc., with Google being one of its subsidiaries.
  • Google keeps adding new technologies and services, like artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and cars that drive themselves.
  • In 2020, Google’s search market share was over 92% globally.
  • Google is now one of the world’s most valuable and influential companies. It has many products and services, including search, advertising, cloud computing, and hardware.

10. From Russia with Search: The History of Yandex

  • Arkady Volozh and Ilya Segalovich launched Yandex for the first time in Russia in 1997.
  • Yandex’s search algorithm was made to understand the subtleties of the Russian language and return more relevant results for searches done in Russian.
  • In the 2000s, Yandex quickly became the most popular search engine in Russia and other Russian-speaking countries.
  • In 2000, Yandex launched Yandex Direct, a paid advertising service that brought in a lot of money for the company.
  • In 2011, Yandex went public with an initial public offering (IPO) on the NASDAQ stock exchange.
  • Yandex continued to expand its services, such as email, maps, and news.
  • In the 2010s, Yandex’s market share in Russia remained steady, holding around 55% of the Russian search market share.
  • But Google, gaining market share in Russia, was becoming a more significant threat to Yandex.
  • Yandex’s search market share has decreased, with Google gaining market share, though it remains a strong player in the Russian search market.
  • Yandex is now a publicly traded company and one of the biggest technology companies in Russia. It offers various products and services, including search, advertising, and e-commerce.

11. Uncovering the History of Baidu: The Beginning of Search Engine Era in China

  • Baidu was first launched in 2000 by Robin Li and Eric Xu in China.
  • Baidu’s goal was to give Chinese internet users a search engine that was reliable and easy to use.
  • Like Google’s PageRank algorithm, Baidu’s search algorithm was based on link analysis.
  • Baidu quickly gained popularity in China and became the dominant search engine in the country.
  • Baidu went public in 2005 with an initial public offering (IPO). An IPO is the first time a private company sells shares to the public in a new stock offering.
  • Baidu kept coming up with new ideas and adding more services, like Baidu Maps, Baidu News, and Baidu Baike, like the Chinese version of Wikipedia.
  • Throughout the 2000s and 2010s, Baidu’s search market share grew as it became the dominant search engine in China.
  • In 2020, Baidu’s search market share was over 70% in China, making it the most popular search engine in the country.
  • Baidu is now one of China’s most valuable and essential companies. It offers various products and services, including search, advertising, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence (AI). 

12. From Zero to Hero: The Story of StartPage Search Engine

  • StartPage was launched in 2006 as a privacy-focused search engine.
  • It offered anonymous searching by routing users’ queries through its servers to Google and then returning the results to the user without saving personal information.
  • Users who cared about privacy liked the search engine because it was very strict about protecting user data.
  • In 2016, StartPage was acquired by privacy company System1.
  • The acquisition helped to increase StartPage’s visibility and user base.
  • Even though StartPage is focused on privacy, it is not as widely used as more significant search engines like Google and Bing.
  • However, it continues to be used by a dedicated user base that values data protection and privacy.

13. The Rise of DuckDuckGo: A Champion of Online Privacy

  • Gabriel Weinberg made DuckDuckGo in 2008 because he didn’t like how other search engines didn’t offer enough privacy and personalization.
  • The search engine became popular quickly because it cared about privacy and didn’t track users. It also gave users more relevant search results.
  • In 2010, DuckDuckGo was featured in the New York Times, which helped to increase its popularity further.
  • In 2011, DuckDuckGo began to see a significant increase in traffic; by 2012, it had grown to serve over 2 million daily searches.
  • In 2013, DuckDuckGo became the default search engine for the Tor Browser (plug-in). This helped to spread the word about it even more.
  • Despite its growing popularity, DuckDuckGo has never been able to compete with the market share of larger search engines like Google.
  • DuckDuckGo continues to operate, and its traffic is growing, but it’s unclear if it will ever reach the same level of dominance as Google.

14. The Evolution of WolframAlpha: From Its Birth to Its Impact

  • WolframAlpha was invented by Stephen Wolfram and launched in 2009 as a “computational knowledge engine.”
  • It was made so that users could find information on various subjects, such as science, math, history, and more.
  • It could also answer queries by performing calculations and providing detailed explanations.
  • Upon its release, WolframAlpha received positive reviews from technology bloggers and was praised for its ability to provide detailed, accurate information.
  • It quickly becomes a popular resource for students, educators, and researchers.
  • The academic community also adopted Wolfram Alpha, and it’s been integrated into many university courses as a reference.
  • WolframAlpha has not been able to gain a significant market share compared to other search engines, such as Google and Bing.
  • WolframAlpha is still up and running, and many people still use it as a reference tool because of its unique ability to compute and analyze data. 

15. The Bing Effect: How Microsoft Changed the Game in the Search Industry

  • Microsoft made Bing in 2009 to replace their old search engine, Live Search.
  • This search engine was designed to provide more relevant results and a better user experience than its competitors.
  • Microsoft spent a lot of money on advertising and marketing to get the word out about the launch of Bing.
  • Bing quickly gained market share and surpassed Yahoo! as the second most popular search engine in the United States, behind Google.
  • The integration of Bing with other Microsoft products, such as the Bing bar and Bing Maps, contributed to its success.
  • Over the years, Bing’s user interface and search results have been updated to improve the user experience.
  • Even though Bing was successful initially, its market share hasn’t changed much over the years, and it hasn’t been able to compete with Google in the search engine market seriously.
  • Bing is still widely used, and Microsoft’s Edge web browser and Cortana, the company’s digital assistant, use it as their default search engine.
  • Bing also powers the search results for other sites and services, such as Yahoo! and AOL.

Which Search Engine Is The Most Powerful?

Google is the most popular search engine because it has the best algorithms and the most significant index of web pages. It can give users the most accurate and relevant answers to their questions. Also, Google’s interface is easy to use and navigate, so people of all ages and levels of technical skill can use it.

Besides that, Google’s integration with other services such as Gmail, Google Maps, and Google Drive makes it simple for many people to meet all of their online needs in one place. It is the most popular search engine because it continually improves and adds new features.

FAQs

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about our main topic, which is search engine history. So, let me clear up your little queries carefully.

When was the first search engine invented?

In 1990 the first search engine was invented, named “Archie”. Alan Emtage, a student at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, came up with the idea for the first search engine.

What is search engine meaning and history?

A search engine is an online resource that allows users to look for specific information by entering relevant keywords or phrases. In the 1990s, the first major search engine, Archie, was developed.

What are the 5 commonly used search engines?

The 5 most commonly used search engines are

  1. Google
  2. Bing
  3. Yahoo
  4. Baidu
  5. Yandex

What is the purpose of a search engine?

A search engine’s aim is to assist users in locating relevant content on the internet by searching for relevant keywords or phrases. A search engine gives the user the most relevant results in a matter of seconds.

Who invented the search engine and why?

The first search engine was invented in 1990 by Alan Emtage, a student at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He created the search engine (named Archie) to assist early internet users in locating files.

What is the biggest search engine?

Google has become the largest search engine in the world by introducing unique services, such as Google Maps, Google Earth, and Google Scholar, and by continually providing relevant and helpful search results to its users.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of search engines?

Advantages of search engines:

  • Convenience
  • Speed
  • Variety
  • Cost-effective

Disadvantages of search engines: 

  • Security 
  • Spam
  • Privacy
Which country did not use Google?

North Korea does not use Google. This is because the internet in North Korea is heavily censored and monitored, and the government has its own search engine, Kwangmyong, which blocks access to foreign websites like Google.

Conclusion 

Since the beginning of the internet, search engines have been an important way for people to find the information they need. From the time of Archie and Veronica to the complex algorithms used by Google, Bing, and Yahoo today, the history of search engines is fascinating.

Due to the competition between search engines, technology is constantly improving, giving users more accurate and valuable results. As technology improves, we can expect search engines to improve and become a more significant part of our everyday lives.


Zainab Akram

Zainab Akram

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