AltaVista Search Engine to Shut Down

By Paul Riegler on 2 July 2013
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AltaVista in 1998

AltaVista in 1998

AltaVista, one of the earliest search engines on the Internet, will cease operations on July 8. Created in 1995 by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), AltaVista was very successful in its day although it couldn’t compete with Google once that search engine began to take off.

AltaVista itself changed ownership several times, first when DEC was acquired by Compaq in 1998 and again when that company became part of Hewlett-Packard four years later. It was acquired by an online advertising company, Overture Services, in 2003 and became part of Yahoo when that company, which also lost to Google in the search engine wars, purchased Overture, also in 2003.

Google quickly revolutionized the search engine industry with PageRank, a system that analyzed the relationship between websites to determine rank. Until that point, conventional search engines including AltaVista ranked sites by counting how many times a search term appeared on the page.

At the time of its launch, AltaVista introduced two innovations that quickly made it the most popular search engine of its time, namely a fast, multi-threaded crawler (Scooter) and a more efficient back-end on advanced Digital hardware.

Today’s AltaVista is AltaVista in name only.  Its search results are powered by Yahoo.


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