Are You Curious to Know What Did People Use before Google?

Eliza | 02 - 02 - 2021
Search Engine

Search Engines play an important role in our lives. Whatever we want it starts with the option Search. Whatever question may be, the answer is just one search away. But it wasn’t like this a few decades before. Today’s search engines have reached their heights, but let us see what search engines people used earlier. 

What Did People Use before Google? 

WHOIS, Archie, and Gopher

WHOIS protocol debuted in 1982. Initially, they were quite powerful and were used to locate internet sources and track the resources linked with a person or organization. The parameters were much limited and located just the registered owner of a resource.  

The File Transfer Protocol server stores and retrieves documents that anyone can access over the internet. It was common during the early 1990s. But it was not easy to locate information unless and until you know the location of the server and the name of the document. These things changed and became easier when Archie was released in 1990. Archie was thought to be the first search engine because it was the first tool that was used to search content rather than users.

Which Protocol Debuted in 1982?
  • A. Gopher
  • B. WHOIS
  • C. Archie
  • D. Yahoo

The name Archie had nothing to do with popular comic series. The name was taken from the word Archive and removed the letter ‘v’. The other two names Veronica and Jughead were a reference to their relation to Archie. All three failed to meet the requirement of modern search engines like a way to discover content continuously and automatically. They were only capable of searching descriptions and titles. But they were important in creating steps to build the modern search engine. 

Another search engine that expanded rapidly in the 1990s was Gopher. But in 1993, by owning the intellectual property rights to Gopher, the University of Minnesota started charging licensing fees for every Gopher installation. When the World Wide Web released a free platform, people started avoiding Gopher because they were licensing fees. 


One of the biggest contributions to the search engine is Yahoo which was founded in 1994 and a large collection of authoritative sites were used for their search results. Without a web crawler, it started as a directory of pages. Yahoo directory wasn’t the first, but it was probably the largest. It is still one of the most recognizable search engines.  

Yahoo! started branching out to other domains of information like Yahoo! Groups. It became its own self-crawling search engine in 2003. Previously Inktomi powered Yahoo!, but later Google was their biggest competitor. It purchased several search engine companies like Inktomi, AlltheWeb, and Overture. It introduced so many elements that most of the search engines use today. 

Web Search before Google

Web crawler was invented in 1993 and was named World Wide Web Wanderer. Matthew Gray created this to generate the Waqnde index which was a measure of the size of the web. It was updated till 1995 but was never used for information retrieval purposes. 


This was the first application of a web crawler to create a search engine. Jonathan Fletcher, the father of modern search, created this application in 1993 and it used web crawlers to create a searchable index of web page titles and headings. Within a year it had 275,000 entries. Since Fletcher was unable to convince the University of Stirling to provide funding for the project, he left the university in 1994, and JumpStation was shut down. 


Lycos was launched in 1994 and became the most popular Web destination in 1999. It was a full corporate business that made money quickly. The reason behind its popularity was a large catalog of indexed documents. It went through several acquisitions and sales and owned many other sites and companies. Lycos still exist today.  


AltaVista was launched at the end of 1995 by the Digital Equipment Corporation. It wasn’t the first search engine but it improved on its predecessors by becoming one of the popular search engines of its time. It was the first search engine to allow natural language search queries where people simply type for what they are looking for instead of using query strings. 

AltaVista indexed more of the web than people even barely knew. It became a part of Yahoo!, and was one of the first search engines to use Boolean operators. 

Ask Jeeves

Ask Jeeves was started in 1996. It started on a question and answer platform, where people would ask a question and it would find an answer. Page-ranking algorithm, ExpertRank, works on subject-specific popularity. If a specific subject has a backlink from other sites based on the same subject, then it’s considered to be relevant. Jeeves stopped focusing on search but it still works as a search engine. Its core product is searchable database questions answered by the users. 

Netscape Search Engine

Netscape was founded by Jim Clark and Marc Andreessen in 1993 as Mosaic Communications. Both of them saw a huge potential for the marketable commodity as it was gaining wide recognition outside the academic circle. In 1994 Mosaic Communications was formed and evolved into Netscape Communications. 

Netscape organizes searches into categories instead of mixing all queries into one big file. They are displayed under various headings. Most Popular Searches gives the list of popular search terms related to the initial search. Netscape Recommends gives the lists drawn from AOL sites that match the search. Partner Search Results gives the paid lists supplied by Overture. provides a large list that allows for specialized searches. These include jobs, news, movies, and automobiles.   

These are the top search engines that were used before Google. Some of the other search engines are Infoseek, Aliweb, EINet Galaxy, Look Smart, and Excite. 

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