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Last Edit: 10/01/17

AltaVista was one of the largest and most popular search engines on the World Wide Web. At it's peak, AltaVista provided millions of search queries each day, and in over 25 languages. AltaVista was one of the first World Wide Web search engine's and probably the first dominant search engine. AltaVista has been described as the Google of it's day. AltaVista was developed by computer scientists who worked at Digital Equipment Corporation: the founders of AltaVista have been listed as:

  1. Louis Monier
  2. Michael Burrows
  3. Paul Flaherty

The AltaVista website was launched in 1995 - a year later than Yahoo! - and was a subdomain of the website. It was a year later that the website was launched. The success of AltaVista was it's crawler, which was capable of crawling more webpages than any other crawler (of it's day) and could crawl the full text of each webpage. AltaVista could also store more webpages in it's database than other search engines of it's day. This resulted in AltaVista providing the most extensive and accurate results of any search engine from 1995-1998.

The downfall of AltaVista occured in 1998 when it was sold by Digital Equipment Corporation to Compaq. Up until 1998, AltaVista had been a simple search engine - like Google was in 2000 - but the new owners decided to make AltaVista into a web portal like Yahoo!. AltaVista focus upon email and other web portal services proved a failure, and their lack of focus upon their search engine handed the initiative to Google in 1999. Google soon swallowed up AltaVista's market share of search queries, by doing what AltaVista originally did, but better.

AltaVista was sold to Overture Services, Inc. in 2003, and Yahoo! bought Overture in 2003. Yahoo! closed AltaVista on the 28th of June, 2013. AltaVista provided search results for Yahoo! in 1996, and it represents a sad demise of a search engine which had the potential to have become what Google eventually did become.

AltaVista: Evolving from a Search Engine to a Web Portal

1997: Search Engine (slimline and reminicent of Google)

The basic search engine of altavista in 1997, until it decided to change its focus

1999: AltaVista

becomes a Web Portal (immitates Yahoo! unsuccessfully)

AltaVista attempts to become like Yahoo!, which proves a disaster