The first web robot was the creation of Massachusetts Institute
of Technology (MIT) physics student Matthew Gray in 1993. Gray’s World
Wide Web Wanderer was designed to track the growth of the then-infant
“I wrote the Wanderer to systematically traverse the Web and collect
sites,” Gray wrote of his invention. “I was initially motivated primarily
to discover new sites, as the Web was still a relatively small place. The Wanderer
was the primary tool for collection of data to measure the growth of the Web.
It was the first automated Web agent or “spider.” The Wanderer was
first functional in spring of 1993 and performed regular traversals of the Web
from June 1993 to January 1996.”
During its three-year run, the Wanderer tracked the growth in web sites from
130 in June 1993, to more than 100,000 in January 1996 and an estimated 230,000
just six months later.
Gray extended the scope of the Wanderer from tracking the Web’s size
to capturing individual URLs into Wandex, the first web database. Gray’s
good intentions also created controversy as early versions of the Wanderer were
also known to not just crawl the Web, but slow traffic on the Web to a crawl as
the program repeatedly accessed the same pages hundreds of times a day. The problem
was fixed in later versions.
Here is a growing archive of the search engine history:
– Microsoft redux
- 2001 – Goodbye GoTo, hello
- 2000 – Some Web expertise
- 1999 – A winning
- 1999 – Now that’s fast!
- 1998 – Its a hit! DirectHit
- 1998 –
And in the other corner... MSN
- 1998 – And
in this corner… Google
– 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 –
- 1994-95 –
- 1994 – Lycos
- 1994 –
- 1994 – Yahoo!
- 1994 – A Galaxy
of web pages
- 1993 – The
birth of Excite
- The Web’s oldest existing search engine
- 1993 – The
first web robot
- 1993 - Archie’s
- Veronica, the grandmother of search engines
- Archie, the grandfather of all search engines
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