The World Wide Web has come a long way since its inception in the early 1990s. What started as a network of computers connected to each other has now become a vast repository of information, accessible to anyone with an internet connection. As the web grew, so did the need for a way to navigate it. This is where search engines came in.
Search engines are software systems designed to search the web for specific information specified in a textual web search query. They systematically search the World Wide Web and present the results in a result line, often referred to as search engine results pages (SERP).The first search engine was Archie, created by Alan Emtage in 1990. It was an index of computer files stored on anonymous FTP websites on a given computer network. Archie was quickly followed by Veronica, a service from System Computing Services at the University of Nevada that tried to provide Archie-style searches for plain text files.
At 19tijn Koster, a software developer at Nexor, created some programs to manage and index the emerging Web. In 1996, Google arrived on the scene with several ideas that would become its golden bullet and the secret to its success. Other search engines were starting to suffer from spam and relevance issues, which Google was able to address. The same year that Bing was launched, Microsoft signed an agreement with its closest rival in search engines, Yahoo, to boost Yahoo search results. Smartphones were the catalyst for an unfettered search and browsing experience, putting a small computer in everyone's pocket. This allowed users to access information from anywhere at any time.
With this new technology came new features such as voice search, where question-based searches are key. Today, many of the original search engines have been replaced by newer ones or have removed their public search engine and are marketing business-only editions. Of all the search engines that still survive, WebCrawler is the oldest. It aggregates Google and Yahoo results. Beyond simple keyword searches, search engines offer their own command-driven operators or GUI and search parameters to refine search results. Concerns about search privacy have also become more prevalent in recent years. In conclusion, the evolution of search engines has been remarkable.
From Archie and Veronica in 1990 to Google and Bing today, they have come a long way in terms of technology and features. Smartphones have been instrumental in making them more accessible and user-friendly.