8 Search Engines That Rocked Before Google Even Existed

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8 Search Engines That Rocked Before Google Even Existed

Although the internet was made public in 1990, the first online search engine did not appear until 1993. Previously, all websites were manually monitored and indexed by humans.

And, although we today identify Google as the king of online search, the company didn’t even exist until 1998. Several other search engines had their opportunity at glory over that five-year period, and the most of them failed. You may even recall some of them.

Here are some of the most well-known search engines prior to Google.

WebCrawler first appeared in January 1994. It was initially a desktop software designed by Brian Pinkerton at the University of Washington. The online version didn’t go up until April of the same year.

It had 4,000 webpages in its database when it first launched, and it only took six months for the engine to search for its millionth query.

WebCrawler is the oldest still-operational search engine. It now combines Google and Yahoo results; it abandoned its own database in 2001.

Of course, it’s no longer a viable Google alternative; there are better alternatives available.

Lycos is another old-school search engine with a live website.

It was founded in May 1994 at Carnegie Mellon Academic by founder Michael Loren Mauldin, who transformed his university idea into a full-fledged firm.

Venture investors saw the advantages right away, and the site went online with more than $2 million in investment. When compared to the prices of Internet businesses now, it’s a drop in the bucket, but it was a lot of money back then.

Lycos, like WebCrawler, is still running strong. It also owns Angelfire, Tripod, and Gamesville, among other historical online companies.

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3. AltaVista

AltaVista debuted in December 1995 and soon rose to prominence as one of the most popular search engines in the 1990s. Its success was due to the architecture of the search engine; it was the first completely searchable, full-text database on the web with an accessible and user-friendly interface.

The site had almost 300,000 visits on the first day. Within two years, it had 80 million visitors each day.

It was the 11th most visited site on the web in both 1998 and 2000, thanks to its no-frills layout (Google may have taken notes!). Indeed, at the millennium’s turn, 17% of all online users accessed the site every week. Google, on the other hand, had just 7%.

Overture purchased the site for $140 million in 2003, and Yahoo purchased Overture later that year. The website was ultimately taken down in 2013.

Excite is yet another outdated search engine. It was formed in 1994, and the website went live the following year. Six Stanford University students created it: Graham Spencer, Joe Kraus, Mark VanHaren, Ryan McIntyre, Ben Lutch, and Martin Reinfried.

Excite was one of the first search engines to provide more than simply search results. When it first went online in 1995, the site also had news and weather portals, an email service, an instant messaging service, stock prices, and a completely configurable homepage.

Excite bought WebCrawler in 1996 and struck exclusive deals with several of today’s major technology businesses, including Microsoft and Apple.

After Sergey Brin and Larry Page felt it was eating up too much of their study time, Excite was reportedly offered the whole Google firm for for $750,000 in 1999. The contract was canceled because the then-CEO, George Bell, determined it was too pricey. Today, Google is worth $900 billion, making Excite’s choice one of the most costly business decisions in history.

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Yahoo was formed in 1994, and its website launched in 1995. It was the most well-known pre-Google search engine.

Despite various turbulent times, including repeated buyouts, low visitor counts, and dubious product choices, it remains a tech behemoth.

Yahoo News, Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Finance, and Yahoo Sports are among its other services as of 2021, with tens of millions of views every day. Yahoo, like Google, has a long history of unsuccessful products, including Yahoo Games, Yahoo Music, Yahoo Messenger, and Yahoo Directory.

According to Alexa, it is still the world’s 11th most-visited website as of 2021.

In November 1996, Dogpile became online. It has a bad brand name, but that may be what makes it memorable.

Aaron Flin, the developer, was concerned with the lack of consistency in results from other sources and decided to create a metasearch engine. It took searches from Yahoo, Lycos, Excite, WebCrawler, Infoseek, AltaVista, HotBot, WhatUseek, and World Wide Web Worm when it first launched. It could also search Usenet, making it one of the most comprehensive search engines on the internet at the time. At the very least, it provided you with a new book to read.

Dogpile now collects results from Google, Yahoo, and Yandex, the Russian search engine (which is actually older than Google!).

Ask Jeeves began in 1996 and quickly gained popularity due to its distinctive question-and-answer methodology. The goal was to build a search engine that enabled users to receive answers using both natural language and keyword searches. While many of us today take it for granted because to Google, it was groundbreaking at the time.

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Of course, Ask Jeeves’ iconic mascot, Jeeves the Butler, helped with branding. Unfortunately, Jeeves was phased out in 2006 due to growing competition and dwindling profitability.

The site renamed to Ask.com and returned to a basic question-and-answer style, which it still employs today.

8. JumpStation

JumpStation, widely regarded as the first “modern search engine,” went online in December 1993. It functioned and appeared like a search engine to an end-user when hosted at the University of Sterling in Scotland.

However, it functioned a bit differently under the hood. The service indexed web pages using document titles and headers and did not give any kind of rating, making it difficult to obtain the specific result that you were searching for.

These Old Search Engines Will Always Be Remembered

The internet was quite different before Google became the world wide web’s ruler. Despite their efforts, these historical search engines were soon forgotten or wiped out by Google’s huge expansion.

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