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Larry Magid: Internet Pioneer AltaVista Shutting Down

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Screenshot of the AltaVista search engine. (CBS)

Screenshot of the AltaVista search engine. (CBS)

LarryMagid01-228 Larry Magid
Larry Magid is a technology journalist and an Internet safe...
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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — One of the internet’s first search engines is going away. Yahoo announced that it is shutting down AltaVista later this month.

Some younger people, who haven’t used the internet nearly as long as me, wouldn’t even remember or have been around when AltaVista was popular.

Back when they launched it in 1995, I remember writing an article saying if you want a directory or portal that you should go to Yahoo, but if you want to search and be able to type in anything, you should go to AltaVista.

It was a great concept back then, because before that you were limited to portals and directories. Yahoo! tried to organize the web and AltaVista created what turned out to be a great idea.

It turned out that Google, founded in 1998, benefitted from that idea by building a better mousetrap. Google uses a page ranking system in order to give users a more relevant search and they’ve dominated search to this day.

The New York Times ran an almost obituary for AltaVista and reported that in 1995 they were processing nearly 2.5 million search requests a day. Today, Google processes 5.1 billion searches a day. The actual growth is just staggering.

AltaVista was a great product while it lasted. If you’re still fond of it, you have several days before Yahoo shuts it down on July 8th.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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