How did you search?

One of my morning indulgences, thanks to my friend Craig is playing 7 Little Words. And, one of the clues in one of the bonus puzzles this morning was:

early search engine – 9 letters

Of course, I threw out Google right away for two reasons. It’s not 9 letters and it wasn’t one of the early search engines.

I didn’t have to think too long until I came up with the answer – Altavista.

That certainly took me back a ways.

In the district, we had a group of CAITs that met with me every Friday to plan what initiatives and resources would be discussed with their schools in the upcoming week. In the late 1900s, we had rolled out internet access to schools and everyone was excited about using it in the classroom.

After all, you didn’t need to go to the library any longer and book out the encyclopedia volume for your topics; you could just search for it. One of the activities that we did was evaluate search engines because we wanted to get the best resource in the hands of students.

Altavista was part of the group we looked at. But not the only one. Courtesy of the Wayback Machine, here are some screen captures. It’s interesting to see what was important to have on the page of the day.





Looking back now, it’s very clear that, not only were they search engines, but they were also web portals to information. You could easily find something by searching by category.

And there always was a shopping offer on the page.

One morning one of the CAITs, Ric, came in and shared that he’d heard about this new resource called Google. We tried it and liked it. Like millions of others, it became the default and off we went.

It’s still the default search engine for many web browsers who support it in that manner. Of course, the skillful know that every browser has the ability to change that to other ones. A popular one that respects privacy is DuckDuckGo. But there are others.

In fact, there are lots of options these days including Ecosia which plants trees just by you using it. Privacy takes on importance to many and here’s a list of privacy focused search engines.

As for my original list, I checked them out to see where they are today.

  • Altavista now resolves to Yahoo!
  • Excite is still there working as a portal and search
  • Lycos is there as a search engine and link to other services
  • Yahoo! is still active as well serving both search and a portal. It nicely has a Canadian landing page

Searching and search engines have been intriguing to me and I’ve probably done way more experimenting than I needed! In a way, it saddens me that many students these days just go with the defaults and use Google or Bing depending upon their browser. There is another world out there.

There’s a rich history of innovation, design, searching philosophy and concerns about privacy that they may never know.

How about you? Did you start out in Google-land or does your history go back further?

OTR Links 01/19/2021

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.