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Archie, the grandfather of all search engines - 1989
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The Internet’s first search engine appeared in 1989 and was invented by Alan Emtage, a computer science student from Barbados studying at McGill University. Emtage dubbed his invention Archie, a contraction of the word “archives” to fit the shortened naming conventions of the UNIX operating system.

Archie was designed to provide an online index of public FTP (file transfer protocol) sites, the Internet information repositories that existed before the Web and home pages. Before Archie, the only way people could find out the existence of an FTP server was by word of mouth or to be sent an e-mail telling them where to find the information.

By 1992, Archie had catalogued over 200 public FTP sites. It is a figure that seems almost laughable by today’s standards, but a decade ago, was already beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. At its peak in 1995, 30 Archie engines crawled the Internet and had catalogued millions of pages.

While FTP continues to be a common way to share files over the Internet, Archie is no longer used.


Here is a growing archive of the search engine history:

  • 2003 – Microsoft redux
  • 2001 – Goodbye GoTo, hello Overture
  • 2000 – Some Web expertise
  • 1999 – A winning search concept
  • 1999 – Now that’s fast!
  • 1998 – Its a hit! DirectHit
  • 1998 – And in the other corner... MSN
  • 1998 – And in this corner… Google
  • 1998 – The Open (source) Directory Project
  • 1997 – Ask Jeeves, the butler did it
  • 1997 – GoTo, What do I bid?
  • 1996 – LookSmart – the Australian connection
  • 1996 – HotBot, one hot bot!
  • 1995/96 – The Northern Light
  • 1995 – AltaVista
  • 1995 – The Meta-search
  • 1994-95 – InfoSeek
  • 1994 – Lycos
  • 1994 – The WebCrawler
  • 1994 – Yahoo!
  • 1994 – A Galaxy of web pages
  • 1993 – The birth of Excite
  • 1993 - The Web’s oldest existing search engine
  • 1993 – The first web robot
  • 1993 - Archie’s pal, Jughead
  • 1993 - Veronica, the grandmother of search engines
  • 1989 - Archie, the grandfather of all search engines

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