In the early 1990s, history shows that the internet was beginning to take off and more people were introduced to it daily. But in those days, web URLs were not seen on billboards or posted on the side of vehicles. Information retrieval was done by going to one of the new search engine portals and typing in some relevant words of what you were looking for, evaluating the listing of web sites returned, and then clicking on one or more of the links. Actually, these search engine portals have remained basically the same in concept throughout the history of the last 15+ years. The portals add features like free email, news feeds, and messenger services but the idea of using search engine portals for information retrieval is still used as widely today as it has been throughout history. Let’s take a look at three major players in the history of search engines and information retrieval:

Excite (1993): This is one of the first user-friendly search engine portals in the history of information retrieval. Five students from Stanford University developed Excite which originally went by the name of Architext. Excite was a new concept of information retrieval in that you had an area to enter your search queries similar to English questions and a listing of relevant web sites was returned. In 1996, Excite bought Webcrawler and Magellan which were among the first search engines in history. Excite was plagued with financial troubles as were many internet companies during 2000/2001 with the crash of the dot-com enterprises. It is still used on the internet today.

Yahoo (1994): Yahoo is an acronym for “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.” It actually started out as “Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web” named after its founders: Jerry Yank, Ph.D. and David Filo who were electrical engineering students at Stanford. Yahoo was just one search engine among many in history at the time competing for a central location where everyone does their internet searches and information retrieval. However Yahoo gained popularity quickly and achieved its first million-hit day in history towards the end of 1994. In March of 1995, they received funding from Sequoia Capital and began to grow. When they had their first initial public offering of stock in 1996, they had 49 employees. Today Yahoo is a global corporation. Users of Yahoo can enjoy a customized portal with free e-mail and news feeds. It has messenger software and you can even set it to notify you via SMS on your cell phone when an e-mal message arrives.

Google (1998): Even though Google was the latecomer in the history of internet search engines and information retrieval, today it is the most popular of all of them. It was founded by two graduate students at Stanford University: Sergey Brin and Larry Page. Their original efforts were to develop a search engine called BackRub however they were encouraged by Yahoo founder David Filo to incorporate and they went into business on September 7, 1998. Google became quite popular among web users because it was quick, reliable, and returned search results highly-relevant to the search query. Google is the search engine that provides supplementary feeds to other search engines like Yahoo. Google had its first initial public offering of stock in 2005. Over time it has added free email services known as Gmail and mapping software. It is the dominant player in the information retrieval and search engine industry today.

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