1 minute read

The Birth of the Internet

Early Search Engines And Directories

Alan Emtage, Peter J. Deutsch, and Bill Heelan, students at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, created the first search engine in 1990. They called the tool Archie, short for archive. The program searched file names (not individual pages) of the files located on public anonymous FTP (file transfer protocol) sites and generated a listing of files for a growing database that acted like an index of the content.

A year later, in 1991, Mark McCahill at the University of Minnesota created a computer program called Gopher. Gopher was named for the school's mascot and also for its function: to retrieve information. Gopher indexed plain text documents, as opposed to only file names. In a playful association with the name Archie, the search devices that were used to find documents within the Gopher files were named Veronica and Jughead. (VERONICA also stood for Very Easy Rodent-Oriented Net-wide Index to Computerized Archives.) Veronica allowed users to search by keyword the names of Gopher menu titles.

After the World Wide Web took off, Web sites began to multiply by the thousands and the tens of thousands and the hundreds of thousands. Today, the world's most popular search engine, Google, claims to index more than 4.5 billion distinct Web sites. The question then becomes, how on earth do you find what you're looking for? You can type in the exact Web address (and people do), but that's very limited. The next phase of technology development involved more specific methods to dissect this bounty of information in order to best deliver it to users.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCool Science CareersThe Birth of the Internet - The World Wide Web, Web Browsers, Early Search Engines And Directories