Feeds

Search engines we have known ... before Google crushed them

Dot.coms of the past slurped themselves into oblivion

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

GoTo.com

Before it bought AltaVista, Overture was known as GoTo.com, an Idealab spinoff that made money out of companies by charging them to appear at the top of its web search results. In early 1998, GoTo.com asked advertisers to say how much they would be willing to pay per click from the search results to their websites, and a couple of months later they were paying up to a dollar for a visitor's mouse-button press.

GoTo.com wasn't the first search firm to think, "hey, wouldn't it be cool to make money out of this?" but it was the first to get away with sponsored results. The idea of advertising on search engines had, until then, been resoundingly rejected by netizens, who thought the internet should be a free and lovely thing, unsoiled by capitalism. But by 1998, the masses were willing to put up with paid-for links, and since GoTo.com hadn't already launched on a free platform, and had gone on and on about how public-minded it was, the site was successful.

In 2001, GoTo.com renamed itself Overture Services and worked with MSN and Yahoo! to monetise their search systems. As well as gobbling AltaVista, Overture was also able to snag search engine AlltheWeb as it sailed through the dot.com crisis.

Two years later, Overture itself was bought by its biggest customer Yahoo! for a cool $1.63bn. The name only exists now in Japan and Korea; everywhere else it's known as Yahoo! Search Marketing.

Snap

The founder of Idealab Bill Gross, who was responsible for coming up with sponsored search, went from GoTo.com to Snap.com. When it debuted in 2004, Snap didn't keep the paid-for ads separate from the search results; instead it mixed them together and flagged them with the orange words "sponsored result".

The web engine was the first to do website previews as well by including a snapshot of sites in the search results. This snapshot feature is all that's left of Snap: the search engine is now marketed to sites as a tool for providing previews if the user hovers the mouse over a hyperlinks.

Snap Shots are provided by Perfect Market Technologies, which has Bill Gross, still CEO of Idealab, on its board.

Infoseek

Michael Agostino, who served as CTO of Snap, was also the co-founder of Infoseek, another of early and very popular search engine. Co-founded with Steve Kirsch in 1994, Infoseek, run by Infoseek Corporation, also offered a free web hosting package, had no advertising and had no limit on file storage.

Infoseek screenshot

Infoseek

Within a couple of years after the launch, Infoseek had millions of visitors a month. It was the first engine to sell advertising on a cost per thousand page views (cost per mille, CPM) basis and was also the first web firm to target users based on their online web surfer, by using its Ultramatch algorithms. It was an Infoseek engineer Li Yanhong, or Robin Li, who moved to Beijing in 1999 and co-founded China's biggest search engine, Baidu.

Infoseek bought WebChat Broadcasting System at the start of 1998 just a little while before it was bought out itself by The Walt Disney Corporation. Disney then mashed Infoseek into Starwave to form Go.com.

From that year, Go.com was a big web portal, incorporating search, entertainment and other Disney sites such as ABC.com and Disney.com and personal web pages. However, by 2000, visitor numbers were dropping, so Disney decide to focus more on entertainment. The following year, Disney said it was going to shut the whole thing down, but in the end it only ended its search engine, switching to GoTo.com for its results, which eventually showed results from Yahoo!

After Infoseek went to Disney, serial entrepreneur Steve Kirsch founded Propel Software Corporation, which peddles a software to speed up the delivery of web pages. Shortly after that, Kirsch founded Abaca Technology, which built a spam filter, and then last year he started OneID, a secure sign-in service.

Security for virtualized datacentres

Next page: WebCrawler

More from The Register

next story
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
Redmond top man Satya Nadella: 'Microsoft LOVES Linux'
Open-source 'love' fairly runneth over at cloud event
Return of the Jedi – Apache reclaims web server crown
.london, .hamburg and .公司 - that's .com in Chinese - storm the web server charts
Chrome 38's new HTML tag support makes fatties FIT and SKINNIER
First browser to protect networks' bandwith using official spec
Admins! Never mind POODLE, there're NEW OpenSSL bugs to splat
Four new patches for open-source crypto libraries
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.