The Margin: Before Google, you had to Ask Jeeves

by | Sep 27, 2023 | Stock Market

may be celebrating its 25th anniversary today. But who remembers the pre-Google world of search? As in such once-prominent search engines as AltaVista, Excite, Lycos, WebCrawler and even one called Ask Jeeves.

It’s hard to believe now that these and others were the go-to sources for many internet users in the ‘90s, but indeed they were. The first search engine, one called Archie, dated all the way back to 1990, in fact.  “But it had limited functionalities; especially when compared to current search engines,” according to Stackscale, a technology company that specializes in cloud solutions. Jump ahead to the mid ‘90 and a host of possibilities for search were available. AltaVista, whose name in Spanish means “high view,” was especially dominant in that period. “Its popularity was down to the search engine’s design; it was the first fully searchable, full-text database on the web that had an accessible and easy-to-use interface,” says the MUO (Make Use Of) tech site. And what about Ask Jeeves? It was a hoot, to be sure. As the Engadget tech site described it: “Ask Jeeves featured a well-dressed valet who supposedly fetched search results and was able to understand questions posed in everyday phrasing.” So what happened to these one-time search stars? In a word, Google. By virtue of its powerful technology, Google “holds humanity’s knowledge in its search bar,” as Engadget put it. These days, when we want to search for something online, we say we’ll “Google it.” Which somehow has …

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