History of the Search Engine - What Came Before Google?
Although we credit Google, Yahoo, and other major search engines for giving us the system we use to find the information we seek, the concept of hypertext came to life in 1945 when Vannaver Bush urged scientist to work together to help build a body of knowledge for all man kind. He then proposed the idea of a virtually limitless, fast, reliable, extensible, associative memory storage and retrieval system. He named this device a memex. But there is a long list of great minds that have given us the information system we now use today. This article illustrates some of them. Here is the History of the Search Engine:
Ted Nelson created Project Xanadu in 1960 and coined the term hypertext in 1963. His goal with Project Xanadu was to create a computer network with a simple user interface that solved many social problems like attribution. While Ted's project Xandadu, for reasons unknown, never really took off much of the inspiration to create the WWW came from Ted's work.
George Salton was the father of modern search technology. He died in August of 1995. His teams at Harvard and Cornell developed the Salton's Magic Automatic Retriever of Text otherwise known as the SMART informational retrieval system. It included important concepts like the vector space model, Inverse Document Frequency (IDF), Term Frequency (TF), term discrimination values, and relevancy feedback mechanisms. His book A theory of indexing explains many of his tests. Search today is still based on much of his theories. History of the search engine uses some of the same techniques even today.
In 1990 a student at McGill University in Montreal, by the name of Alan Emtage created Archie; the first search engine. It was invented to index FTP archives, allowing people to quickly access specific files. Archie users could utilize Archie's services through a variety of methods including e-mail queries, teleneting directly to a server, and eventually through the World Wide Web interfaces. Archie only indexed computer files. With Archie, Alan Emtage helped to solve the data scatter problem. Originally, it was to be named "archives" but was changed to Archie for short.
Paul Lindner and Mark P. McCahill
Archie gained such popularity that in 1991 Paul Linder and Mark P. McCahill created a text based information browsing system that uses a menu-driven interface to pull information from across the globe to the user's computer. Named for the Golden Gophers mascot at the University of Minnesota, The name is fitting, because Gopher "tunnels" through other Gophers located in computers around the world, arranging data in a hierarchical series of menus, which users can search for specific topics.
Up until 1991 until there was no World Wide Web. The main method of sharing information was via FTP. Tim Berners-Lee wanted to join hypertext with the internet. He used similar ideas to those underlying the Enquire (a prototype created with help from Robert Cailliau) to create the World Wide Web, for which he designed and built the first web browser and editor, called WorldWideWeb, and developed on NeXTSTEP. He then created the first Web server called httpd, short for HyperText Transfer Protocol daemon. The first Web site built was at
and was first put online on August 6, 1991. Tim Burners-Lee created the World Wide Web Consortium in 1994. Tim also created the Virtual Web library which is the oldest catalogue of the web. The history of the search engine is a fascinating story.