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Web Search Engines

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Google has used the search engine optimization to rise up the ranks of internet preference. A research carried out in the recent past illustrated that more than 80% of world internet users prefer Google. Other internet search engines that have been in use include yahoo, bing, ask, msn. Aol, Lycos, AltaVista and alltheweb. The mentioned search engines have been in use at different times in history. Others have also shared the same historical timings. Technology has always been on the rise from one search engine to another (Bruce 276). While some early versions used manual data allocation, the present search engines have adopted fast transmission of information stored in data bases located in remote parts of the world.

The history of search engines dates back in 1945 soon after the end of World War 2 (Trinkle 45). The world was in great need to consolidate and disseminate knowledge in different areas of discipline. The first step was the actual development of the knowledge followed by its dispensation. The pioneers of this concept emphasized on the need to specialize in various areas of study. Writers from all sides were called upon. The collected materials were however stored in the hard copy since computers had not advanced (Trinkle 49). Information was collected and placed in books. People could access information in the books. The present search engines actually work in the same principle. Information is collected and finally stored in data bases located in various servers. People can then locate the information remotely.


The earliest form of search engine dates back during the days of Archie. The word Archie was a short version of archive. The former means a storage facility that contains volumes of historical facts. Alan Emtage developed the Archie concept in 1990 while studying at McGill University. This University was located at Montreal in the United States of America. This initial program was meant to assist in accessing information stored in the servers. The process of accessing information was not so difficult then (Trinkle 216). It is also amazing that the files were stored randomly and so they were to be accessed in the same random manner. This random accessibility was only possible because very few files were in use during those days. The few files made it possible to access information in the random manner.

Alan Emtage hoped that his product would solve the problem of internet accessibility at that time (Whitmore 74). He used the word Archie and not archives so as to conform to the Unix programming demands. Unix has always been known to use short forms of words. This is the international standard allowed for the UNIX programming (Whitmore 78). Alan’s invention made it easy to gather information into one place so as to be accessed on a later time. The gathered information was always collected from the then scholars. These were people who had great skill and knowledge in the specific areas. The information that was contributed could be accessed randomly through this Archie method (Whitmore 65). This was the first program to search through the internet for information that FPT had (Whitmore 29). Archie is not a search engine as such like others but it can search a list of files in the internet. When using Archie one has to know the file name that he is searching and then the program will inform you the type of FTP site that the information can be downloaded from the internet (Whitmore 67).

File Transfer Protocol

File transfer protocol is a type of file searching method that utilized a server side and a client side. This method is also widely known as FTP.  Searching the internet was not there before the year around 1990 as there were few websites in place so FTP came in Handy. In regard to this search engine mechanism set up by Tim Lee, files and data are stored in one computer that would also be known as a server (Rognerud 132). The server is the computer in which data is stored. The computer operator then sets the server program to enable other people to access information stored. The persons who are willing to view the information have the obligation of installing a client program that shall enable them to communicate with the server computer. File transfer protocol can take place with or without internet and it used to be searched by word of mouth (Douglas 123).

The present File transfer protocol has greatly advanced compared to what Lee developed. This client-server based system can today accommodate the transmission control protocol which uses the internet platform for its operations. The TCP mode brings on board many users and this therefore calls for user authentication mechanism (Rognerud 66). Various authentication methods have been introduced with time. The use of pass words is but one mode of authentication that is common in this present age.


Yahoo is the first well known and popular search engine that was developed in 1994. It was developed during the web cataloging period by Stanford undergraduates who were working on an Excite project (Andy 48). Another group of Ph.D. students David Filo and Jerry Yang, had some web pages posted in their favorite links, and that is how they came up with Yahoo a name for the pair in their innovations (Rognerud 87). The number of links started to grow hence a better organization of the data and  hierarchical listing was developed, and with the pages becoming more accepted, a search page was necessitated and all links were joined together to make a directory (Edward 387). The developments made Yahoo to be the first search engine directory that was popular and easy for data retrieval.

The links in the pages were not automatically updated but rather manually by spider or robot, and were further searched by the links developed hence it was not categorized as search engine (Marckini 156). The feature that they created was a simple data base engine, thus it was considered searchable directory. It provided for human compiled explanation in each of the URL’s. The directory became so popular and they started charging the commercial sites that were included in the web (Marckini 165). It has automated some of its features lately to give it a distinction between a search engine and search directory by gathering and classifying some of its processes. Yahoo offers a user friendly interface and the ease of understanding the directories makes it to be one of the popular sites in the world of Web. The database is however, small due to the number of users indexing the files of everything that they view while on the sites. Moreover, Yahoo is more effective compared to Wanderer because they contain more added expressive information on indexed sites compared to the latter (Fisher 198). Yahoo bought Overture Services Inc, which had the Alta Vista and AlltheWeb search engines. In around 2003 Yahoo became a search engine by combining all its capabilities of the other search engines they had, to a single search engine.


The first known full-text search engine is the WebCrawler that was developed at the University of Washington, as an Undergraduate seminar project in 1994 by Brian Pinkerton. The search engine added the accuracy in the web by indexing all the text in the web page compared to other search engines which indexed titles and URL pages only, and this resulted into some keywords not indexed (Marckini 83). This improved ranking relevancy in the producing of results. The search engine allowed users to view what they are searching while, at the same time they enter their queries, and one can able to stop keying and view the results (Handbook 465).

 The project generated a lot of traffic in the University’s network system that it almost collapsed because of the popularity it had. The project was taken over by AOL which undertook it to be their network and develop it further. The WebCrawler was bought by Excite from AOL later, but the later still uses the search engine in their NetFind feature (Levene 164). Presently Home Corp owns both Excite and WebCrawler. To make searching in the web more organized, Excite was developed by Stanford undergraduate students, who brought the idea of statistical analysis of indexing in 1993. It was called Architext, and it involved conception based searching that was a hard procedure as it included using statistical word relations such as synonym; the result was getting results of missed keywords by other machines that had not been keyed by the user (Levene 79).

The World Wide Web Worm, JumpStation, and Repository-Based Software Engineering (RBSE) spider were developed. The JumpStation retrieved information using a simple linear search from the information gathered on title and header on the Web pages. The WWW Worm had the titles and URL’s indexed. The two search engines did list results with no discrimination in the order they found it. The ranking system was developed by the RSBE spider, by listing of results in relevancy to the keyed word (Hock 134). The search engines made it harder for the user to find what they were looking for in the web because they did not have link analysis capabilities.


This search engine was named after the wolf spider, which is just like the way the wolf spider pursues its prey. It was developed in 1994 after the WebCrawler, at Carnegie Mellon University (Kent 63). Michale Mauldin, who is still with the University, is the chief scientist who was behind this type of search engine. Research shows that around 1997, Lycos is believed to have more than sixty million web pages indexed, and it was in Netscape’s list of ranked search engines as number one on top of the list (Kent 82). The search engine provided for word proximity and prefix matching bonuses as an added advantage. Search engines use the spiders, which are software programs to search the web for information. Links are recorded to help in proxy editorials, know what web page is all about, to know the type of page that exist, and help to discover new documents.

Infoseek is the next search engine that was developed after the Lycos search engine, but it had little improvements in the development that could surpass WebCrawler and Lycos (Kent 51). This search engine came to prominence due to the deal they had with Netscape that made them be browser’s search engine in place of Yahoo.

Alta Vista

Alta Vista is a search engine that was introduced in 1995 by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC). It had new developments and improvements that made it more appealing than the previous search engines in the web scene (Kristopher 47). It ran on DEC Alpha-based computers initially, and it was one of the best powerful processors in place. It is so powerful that when Yahoo fails in searching, it automatically becomes the default search engine. The powerful processors made the search engine to run at high speed hardly slowing down.

 The processor was running on UNIX that was made to run on heavy multi-user environments (Randolph 78). The search engine had the capability other than entering key words, the ability of one to key in questions, search tips, and advanced search features. The capability made it even easier for users to get results when necessary and the use of natural language is a further advantage (Randolph 83). The innovations of Alta Vista made it the first search engine to have Boolean operators like; or, but, and, not for usage and help in improving searches in the web. The search engines do also have the ability to give tips to its users for easier use, and allowed users to add or delete own URL within 24 hours of posting, the first of its kind in the innovation of search engines (Jones 197). These features makes Alta Vista to be unparallel in terms of is accuracy and accessibility. They allowed for inbound link checking, and natural languages. It was bought by Overture after poor mismanagement around the time Google started becoming popular (Handbook 81).


This is a project of University of California at Berkeley in 1996 by Paul Gauthier and Eric Brewer, which was designed as the most powerful search engine. Wired Magazine who are the current owners claim that the search engine is capable of indexing over ten million pages a day on the web, and to add to that, is that the HotBot search engine can update its full index daily, and this makes it to be able to contain the latest information on the web (Fisher 85). It was powered by Inktomi search engine, and it can index a entire Web as its strength.


This is a simple type of search engine that was introduced in 1995. The search engine works by forwarding keywords received from the user who can either type key words or the question to the search engine. The search engines then sends back the results to the metasearch which formats the hits in the page for easier viewing by the user (Baig 93). The search engines do not have new innovations but can compile searches simultaneously from different search engines depending on the collective relevancy; they then release the results on the web.

Metacrawler lately called developed by Eric Selburg in 1995 of University of Washington Masters student was the first type of this kind of search engines, but this engine ran a foul of other search engines because it only took the output and not the advertising banners. The search engines later started using the banners advertisement with the set of search results as this is what users see as reducing the revenues of the search engine companies (Kent 432). The metasearch engines had other search engines like Dogpile, ProFusion, C-Net’s, and Ask Jeeves. The Ask Jeeves search engine has several features such as having the natural language queries that have the ability to search using many kinds of search engines. The C-Net has over 700 search engines which are different and this is what they use to get results. The different types of search engines that use metasearch are good when used as search engines and directories by the user who asks questions (Karr 77).

Jughead and Veronica

This kind of search engine did have similarities to Veronica and around the year 1993, the Web started transforming. The industry of search engines started growing from the known Gopher, FTP, and e-mal servers. Matthew Gray created a database of web called Wandex, and he introduced what was called World Wide Web Wanderer which was a succession of robots that required actual web URL’s for usage (Trinkle 38). The search engine was having a problem of lag, in accessing same web page many times a day and he tried to fix the problem with software but it took long. He created the search engine to tally the active web servers as he wanted to know the strength and growth of the web. This was the first actual automated indexing system of the search engine. The robots in this period occupied a lot of network bandwidth, and indexing of the sites was rapid and it was easy for servers to crash. The search engine only captured URL’s and thus it easy hard to find things not expressed and described in their URL, since this are cryptic and average user can not understand them (Clay 82). Jughead searched one server at a particular time, and it indexed the servers fast in the database memory. It becomes slow after using all the memory, thus limiting the size of servers indexing.

It is during this same season that ALIWEB a web page was developed, and it was corresponding to Veronica and Archie search engines (Clay 78). It was developed by Martjin Koster in 1993 as an answer to Wanderer by creating a directory.  The webmasters that was developed started using a special index filing system with site information in searching for files instead of the cataloging system of searching for texts and files, which allowed for more accuracy in listing (Kristopher 65). It allowed users to present their pages in their own description to the web for indexing and allowed for more information. The engine was not using much of the bandwidth as it needed no robot to collect data. The major disadvantage of ALIWEB is that many users did not know how to submit their sites to the web (Marckini 276). The web roots page also hosted by Martijn Kojer created the standards of search engine indexing, as the webmasters were now able to block their sites on whole site level or by page by page root. The indexing made the search engines to link that users ask for in the web. The cataloging of the web continued to develop and a new system called spiders came into use, and just like robots, the system searched the web in a sequence for web page information (Kristopher 65). The versions that were there earlier used to search for the web page titles, the information of the header, and the URL of the page as the basis of key words. Search engines in this period were very much behind and hits in the database were the ones produces as the ones hit as the keys were hard to rank with the sites. The fully fledged search engines started to be developed.  

In 1994 ElNet Galaxy directory now Tradewave Galaxy was developed, it was structured in an analogous way just like the other web directories of today (Kristopher 154). It had both Gopher and Telnet searching features and this made it to be popular, added to the web search features that it had. It was the first browsable Web directory and made use of the different levels and categories of the web. Users still had the problem of knowing what they were looking for in the web and thus using this search engine they could narrow the search until they find what is related to their search (Rathbone 287).

Veronica is a type of search engine that was developed by the University of Nevada Computing Services in 1993. The program used a type of system called Gopher server that is used for searching files in the internet, and it still had the same idea as Archie. This kind of server stores plain text documents in the internet as compared to an FTP server that stores images and program files. The search engine is Resource Directory system that gives access to information that is on Gopher servers (Rognerud 234). It has menus in a collective form from Gopher sites. The search involved matching only the items requested by a user on menu items and the result given is customized Gopher as it acted like one. The search engine has three parts namely: spiders, index, and search interface. The search engine spiders are the ones that follow the link in the web and request to know whether indexing has taken place since the last update. Search engine Index is the catalog that is the content of the web (Kent 83). The search engine search interface and relevancy software help to accept the user input by checking the match syntax and spelling, check the relevancy of the question entered by the user and place links that near the user query, and gathering list of relevant pages for search, and to request a list of relevant ads and put them near the search results.


The search engines are the popular sites for most web users. The development of the search engines in future can be interesting with the entering of meaning based search engine and it is still continuing to evolve. There is increasing expansion of databases, increase in user friendly interfaces and searching techniques, and indexing of sites has also improved. The meaning based search engines can be used to receive mammoth words as databases with synonyms can be developed by different experts (Sebastian 145). Example is the Oingo search engine and Find Engine that one can use by installing a program in a computer and one can just point to the screen and the program searches the web for more information. The history of the search engines shows that the developments are mostly by university students who are doing their projects, and in return they develop them into commercial enterprises.

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