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W
h at do you do when you need to find something on the Internet?
In most cases, you pop over to one of the major search engines
and type in the term or phrase that you’re looking for and then
click through the results, right? But of course search engines weren’t always
around.
In its infancy, the Internet wasn’t what you think of when you use it now. In
fact, it was nothing like the web of interconnected sites that’s become one of
the greatest business facilitators of our time. Instead, what was called the
Internet was actually a collection of FTP (File Transfer Protocol) sites that
users could access to download (or upload) files.
To find a specific file in that collection, users had to navigate through each
file. Sure, there were shortcuts. If you knew the right people — that would be
the people who knew the exact address of the file you were looking for — you
could go straight to the file. That’s assuming you knew exactly what you were
looking for.
The whole process made finding files on the Internet a difficult, time-
consuming exercise in patience. But that was before a student at McGill
University in Montreal decided there had to be an easier way. In 1990,
Alan Emtage created the first search tool used on the Internet. His creation,
an index of files on the Internet, was called Archie.
If you’re thinking Archie, the comic book character created in 1941, you’re
a little off track (at least for now). The name Archie was used because the
file name Archives was too long. Later, Archie’s pals from the comic book
series (Veronica and Jughead) came onto the search scene, too, but we’ll get
to that shortly.
3
IN THIS CHAPTER
What is a search engine?
Anatomy of a search engine
Characteristics of search
Classifications of search engines
Putting search engines to work
Manipulating search engines
Search Engine Basics
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