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The Origin Of The Species Of Search Engines

Aug 18, 2007
Search engines have revolutionized the way that we use computers. Instead of data being a bunch of files in an archive that requires file cards to look up, data is extremely versatile and constantly at the tips of our fingers. If you want a document that you wrote a few weeks ago, you only have to remember a few of the words that you used to be able to search for it across your whole hard drive. It is easy to take this convenience for granted, until you consider what the alternative would be - tedious systems of archival.

The first true search engine was called Archie. It was coded in 1990 by a student. The program would go through all of the files on a particular sites, and scour them for information used for directories. Then it would save all of this information, and turn it into a database of files. This database was easily searched using Archie. Archie was not known to the public, but created lots of excitement in the world of computer science.

The next important advance in search engines was the Gopher program. Archie had a weakness that Mark McCahill noticed, and that was that it only searched titles, and not the contents of files. So he wrote Gopher, which indexed text files for quick and easy searching. Gopher is usually associated with other programs called Veronica and Jughead, which dealt with the actual searching algorithms for finding files within the Gopher index.

These file services were all leading up to the next big advance in search engines, and that was to put one on the web. The first search engine on the internet was Wandex, which allowed users to search for words in the titles of web pages that had been indexed by the crawler program. The first search engine to show a sign of things to come was WebCrawler. This engine established many modern standards, including the ability to search entire web pages for any word contained within.

Search Engines Today

As the internet grew in popularity, then exploded into a huge amount of data, search engines faced increasing challenges. As thousands of pages are added every day, and many of those are changed on a daily basis, search engines have to constantly update their information regarding those sites. Part of the search engine race has been attempts to make the crawling more efficient and faster, so that the search engines can document new web sites when they come up. Some search engines download entire sites and keep the entire thing in its own hard drives.

When one thinks of modern search engines, the thing that most likely comes to mind is Google. It definitely wasn't one of the pioneers, since it only started to gain popularity around 2001. However, it grew insanely fast, and now has the majority market share by far of any search engine, with 74% of all searches in the world made by Google. Its popularity can be attributed to the fact that it brought about many new and revolutionary techniques for listing pages. It considered factors such as popularity, original content, choices of past searches, how many other sites link to the one in question, and more than 100 other factors. These brought the best results to the top of the page.

The success of Google not only affected the everyday user's habits, but also the development of almost all other search engines on the market. Search engines today spend their capital developing intricate algorithms to decide which sites belong at the top of the rankings. Other top search engines include Yahoo! Search, AltaVista, and Windows Live Search. Since there are so many choices working so efficiently to index the latest web sites and information, you can surely benefit from using them. You can use search engines to track people down, find out new information, and determine important marketing factors.
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