Anything that involves public participation (whether it is a bus travel or a free ticket to concert) is because of advertisement. Advertisements grabs attention. That is why people invests in Advertisements to promote business.

Earlier, Opening a new business was easily noticeable by everyone. News spreads by a word of mouth and business was up and running soon. The communities were small and merchant don’t have to look around for any other market rather than serving its own area.

The growth of population made excessive demands so it was necessary to grab things from different area if not available in localities. As things grew bigger, the businesses started expanding. One has to adapt different ways to let customers know about the business remotely. This is where media played an important role.

As things become digital, it also opened a new doors for everyone. Even an infant knows how to open a browser without having to read any alphabets. The basic need of everyone now is just go and get a peek of that thing into web. It is great to have the result instantly for what you are looking for in an orderly and relevant manner.

The internet is useless if access to the information is not efficient. Before Search Engines came into existence, the only way to know about the available web sites was by word of mouth or by email dropped by the business owners. The Internet has more to offer than what it was.

The necessity of searching available web pages on the Internet was very much. This made an attempt towards development of something that could index the available pages on the Internet and present it to the user. This led to the flourish of business, promoting advertisement and getting attention from customers remotely without having to drop emails. The era of Search Engines has started.

Archie (1990)

The name Archie was short for Archives.

The Search Engine was gathering information, archive it logically in a systematic way for easy access and retrieval. The program downloads the directory listings located on public anonymous FTP (File Transfer Protocol) sites and creates a searchable database of filenames.

Archie Search Engine

Archie was created around 1990 by Alan Emtage, a student of McGill University in Montreal.

Gopher (1991)

Gopher was created in 1991 by Mark McCahill, a student of University of Minnesota.

Archie used to index computer files where Gopher indexed plain text files.

In the same year, two programs were created namely Veronica and Jughead capable of searching and retrieving information from the Gopher Index.

To Explain it clearly —

JUGHEAD (Jonzy’s Universal Gopher Hierarchy Excavation And Display) — The program was used to retrieve information from the Gopher.

VERONICA (Very Easy Rodent-Oriented Net-wide Index to Computerised Index) — The program used as a keyword-based search from the Gopher Index.

Wandex (1993)

The World Wide Web Wanderer created by Mathew Gray of MIT in 1993 to measure the growth of the Internet. It is used to count the number of active servers on the Internet.

Since, it was upgraded to store URLs (the address of the page or site) in a database called Wandex. It is the first database of the websites.

The World Wide Web Wanderer was the first program to traverse the web and collect information about the websites. These same things are subsequently done currently by different programs as given names like web crawler, bot, robot or a spider.

The one major flaw that World Wide Web Wanderer faced is accessing the same page multiple times which resulted in website servers to be flooding and overflowing.

ALIWEB (1993)

ALIWEB (Archie Like Indexing of the Web) was created by Martijn Koster in 1993.

It allowed users or creators to submit their websites for indexing. It was also developed with the standards for the robots. These standards enabled website owners to block the robots from indexing their site.

The end of 1993 has boosted the development of Search Engines in a full-fledged.

Jumpstation (1993)

Jumpstation used to gather information about the title and header of Web pages using simple linear search. The flaw that really was a problem is presenting the results on a first come first served basis.

The growing of Web has declined the functioning of Jumpstation.

World Wide Web Worm (1993)

World Wide Web Worm used to index titles and URLs. It was also suffering from the same flaw of first come first served basis like Jumpstation.

RBSE (1993)

Repository-Based Software Engineering (RBSE) is the third search engine on year 1993 that implemented a ranking system.

Excite (1993)

Excite used to generate statistics of a website and used statistical analysis, find the words relationships to make the search more efficient.

Created by six students of Stanford University namely Mark Van Haren, Ryan McIntyre, Ben Lutch, Joe Kraus, Graham Spencer and Martin Reinfried in 1993.

It is the time not only about increasing search efficiency but the Directories came into existence. The Search Engines were automated to produce results according to the search terms while the Directories were mostly indices of websites that were modified manually.

The first directory was VLib stands for Virtual Library created by Tim Burners-Lee (the creator of World Wide Web).

EINet Galaxy or Galaxy is a directory with a search feature.

Yahoo (1994)

Yahoo began with a directory. Very soon it became developers favourite websites. The growing web needs a search feature which is included by Yahoo as a necessary thing.

Yahoo then acquired better search engine companies and used their product to improve its search power.

From 2004, Yahoo started its own search feature rather than acquiring from others. Thus it grew more powerfully and started charging other companies for including their directory for indexing.

WebCrawler (1994)

WebCrawler was the first full text search engine that used robots to index all the pages. It was the first search engine to index entire pages developed by Brian Pinkerton of the University of Washington.

WebCrawler’s uniqueness and popularity brought heavy traffic that made impossible to use it on the daylight.

Lycos (1994)

Lycos is the term taken from Lycosidea, means Wolf Spiders who hunt for their prey.

It was developed by Dr. Michael Mauldin of Carnegie Mellon University.

Lycos added prefix matching that increases the word proximity for generating better search results. It was done during generating the search results according to relevance ranking. These unique features allowed Lycos for better results. By 1996, Lycos stands to have largest indexed documents repository.

Infoseek (1995)

Infoseek allow webmasters to submit their pages to the search engine in real time.

It was developed in 1995.

Alta Vista (1995)

The features of Alta Vista made it a popular search engine, like :

  • search like a natural language
  • inquiries and advanced search techniques
  • fast
  • huge bandwidth which allows large user base to use it at once
  • users can add or delete URLs which didn’t take much time to process
  • users could check inbound links

Beside, having all these, it started giving tips and tricks to users for better search experience.

HotBot (1996)

HotBot was launched by Two Berkley students in 1996 with a concept of “concept induction technology” and “new links strategy” as for the purpose of marketing. It claims to have faster indexing and on regular basis.

HotBot failed to run its business for poor business model and bought out by Yahoo.

Google (1996)

The Project launched with a name Backrub, later named as Google derived from a Mathematical term googol (‘1’ followed by a hundred zeroes).

Backrub was a search engine that used to rank website by analyzing the quality of website links. On the same year (1996), the Backrub was renamed Google. The accuracy of the results generated by Google ran over the search engines market.

Developed by Sergey Brin and Larry Page, students of Standford University in 1996.

Ask Jeeves (1997)

Currently known as

Ask Jeeves started as a Natural Language search engine used humans to manually match search queries. It ranked websites based on popularity. Due to this, the search engines was prone to spam.

In 2000, Ask Jeeves was bought and migrated to Teoma (meaning expert), a new search engine. It used link popularity and indexing the websites according to the subject. The concept of analyzing links with reference to the subject soon became useless because a website with a particular subject turns out to have entirely different content with no relation to the subject. This caused rendering of links uselessly.

DMOZ (1998)

DMOZ (The Open Directory Project) by Richard Skrenta (creator of Elk Cloner Virus) and his friends.

Today, DMOZ is the largest directory on the web that can be used by anyone. It was created keeping an eye for free directory inclusion and editing manually where as Yahoo started charging.

MSN (1998)

Microsoft launched its own search engine named as MSN (Microsoft Network) in 1998. In 2006, renamed MSN to Windows Live Search. Soon the brand was renamed as Bing on 2008.

The existence of MSN and Bing at separate address still confuses people.

MSN and Bing are both same or different?

The real fact is, MSN is used for posts like news, sports, stock markets, etc; where as it utilizes the Bing search engine to generate results searched through MSN. Though, you can access MSN and Bing separately with a specified web address each, but still if you ever use the MSN search, it will land you to Bing with search results.

Ultimately, both are owned by Microsoft.

DuckDuckGo (2008)

DuckDuckGo was founded by Gabriel Weinberg on February 29, 2008.

The search engine that won’t track your any kind of activities over the internet. Since, it sets on a mission to provide privacy to the users by removing trackers and removing other tracking methods from the internet.

DuckDuckGo Billboard in San Francisco

In 2011, a billboard in San Francisco tells “Google tracks you. We don’t” which created much hype.


The invention and discovery of search engines doesn’t ends here. There are many other search engines available on the internet and still the development continues.

Also, the search engines that faded away after a shiny start, made significant contributions to the development as we see them today. The journey was really a major hill climb from “first come first serve” to genuine content analyzing and rendering the useful search results to users.

As of now, the major search engines that is Google, Bing and Yahoo. Apart from indexing websites and analyzing quality content, they are also competing for other search horizons like news, videos, answering forums, books, music, etc. There are also search engines like AOL, Yandex, Baidu, etc which is popular on specific country or region.

A Passionate Web Developer, beginner at ML and beyond.