The internet is over 30 years old and it has come a long way. A lot of websites have come and gone over the many years that the internet has been around. Looking back at history of the internet there have been a fair number of search engines. Some of them are around today but many of them have gone away.

In the modern day, most of us know and use Google but before there was Google, there were many other search engines. Today we are going to take a look at the oldest search engine of the internet.

Archie Query Form

The first true search engine on the internet was Archie, or formally Archie Query Form. Archie worked by indexing FTP (File Transfer Protocol) archives. Search results would be for various files that were around the internet. Unlike modern day search engines, it did not display any content from the files.

McGill University School of Computer Science started to work on the project in 1987. Members who worked on the project consisted of both students and staff who volunteered to work on the Archie search. As the project progressed, more and more people joined.

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Archie officially went live in September of 1990. When it originally went live, Archie was only able to access a limit number of FTP directories. Every month or so, Archie would reach out to the FTP directories on the list and ask for an updated file list. Originally the internet required a lot more resources than it does today. There was a limit to how many times a connection could be queried without overloading it.

Many wonder how Archie got its name. Archie comes from the word archive with the v removed. One of the biggest rumors for Archie is that it was named after the comic strip. Contrary to that rumor, the person responsible for naming Archie has said that he was never a fan of the series. In fact, he despised the comics.

As Archie was out there on the internet, it began to grow. When Archie was originally released, there weren’t nearly the number of FTP directories there are now. Many people were still unsure if the internet was going to take on.

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Because the internet existed without the World Wide Web, there wasn’t an easy way to navigate the internet. Archie helped to piece together the scattered groupings of files. Without Archie, you would have to know exactly where the files were located on the internet. There weren’t cool names like This ability to connect people with files was a much needed resource and because of that Archie quickly became popular.

Are you interested in seeing what Archie was like back during its years of popularity? A Polish university, University of Warsaw, maintains a copy of the search engine for both historical and research purposes. Take a look here:

Notable Search Engines

  • Excite – 1993
  • Yahoo! – 1994
  • WebCrawler – 1994
  • Lycos – 1994
  • Infoseek – 1994
  • AltaVista – 1995
  • Inktomi – 1996
  • Ask Jeeves (now Ask) – 1997
  • Google – 1997
  • MSN Search (now Windows Live) – 1998
  • Overture – 1998
  • AllTheWeb – 1999
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How Far Has The Internet Come?

One need only to visit a single URL in order to see how far the internet has come. The ability to link a webpage with a simple string of letters is a major thing. It has made Archie somewhat obsolete and ushered the way for modern search engines.

Modern day search engines also do not have preset lists of websites that they search through that are input by a human. Bots control search engines now, fanning out across the internet to find mentions of websites everywhere. From original websites to links from trusted sources, these bots are able to sniff out websites.

Not only do bots sniff out websites but they also rank the value of websites. Higher ranked websites will appear before lower ones in the search results.

What a long way the internet has come in less than 40 years. A very basic connection of computers around the world has led to be a massive network that connects the whole world. People are able to communicate, shop, and much more. No one knows quite what the world would look like but most people think that it would look nothing like it does today.