AltaVista

Infobox Dotcom company
company_name = AltaVista
company_
company_type = Private
genre =
foundation = 1995
founder =
location_city = Palo Alto, California
location_country = USA
location =
locations =
area_served =
key_people = Paul Flaherty, Louis Monier, Michael Burrows
industry =
products =
services =
revenue =
operating_income =
net_income =
owner =
num_employees =
parent = Overture Services, Yahoo!
divisions =
subsid =
company_slogan =
url = http://www.av.com


caption = AltaVista in its “portal” time, 1999.
alexa = <500
website_type = Search engine
language = Multilingual
advertising = Yes
registration = No
launch_date = 15 December, 1995
current_status = Still active
footnotes =
intl =

AltaVista is an Internet search engine company, and that company's search engine product.

Origins

AltaVista was created by researchers at Digital Equipment Corporation's Western Research Laboratory who were trying to provide services to make finding files on the public network easier. [Citation
author = Eric J. Ray, Deborah S. Ray, and Richard Selzer
title = The AltaVista Search Revolution
publisher = Osborne/McGraw-Hill
edition = 2nd
year = 1998
] Although there is some dispute about who was responsible for the original idea [Citation
author = John Battelle
title = The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture
publisher = Portfolio
year = 2005
] , two key participants were Louis Monier, who wrote the crawler, and Michael Burrows, who wrote the indexer. The name AltaVista was chosen in relation to the surroundings of their company at Palo Alto. AltaVista was publicly launched as an internet search engine on 15 December, 1995 at altavista.digital.com. [Citation
last = Lewis
first = Peter H.
title = Digital Equipment Offers Web Browsers Its ‘Super Spider’
newspaper = The New York Times
pages = Late Edition - Final, Section D, Page 4, Column 3
date = 1995-12-18
url = http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F60B14FF3F5D0C7B8DDDAB0994DD494D81
] [cite newsgroup
title = Digital Develops Internet’s First ‘Super Spider’
author = Digital Press and Analysts News
date = 1995-12-15
newsgroup = biz.digital.announce
id = 9512151806.AA02246@raptor.pa.dec.com
url =
accessdate = 2007-02-26
]

At launch, the service had two innovations which set it ahead of the other search engines. It used a fast, multi-threaded crawler (Scooter) which could cover a lot more Web pages than were believed to exist at the time and an efficient search back-end running on advanced hardware. As of 1998, it used 20 multi-processor machines using DEC's 64-bit Alpha processor. Together, the back-end machines had 130 GB of RAM, 500 GB of hard disk space, and received 13 million queries per day. [Ricardo Baeza-Yates and Berthier Ribeiro-Neto (1999). "Modern Information Retrieval". Addison-Wesley/ACM Press, pp. 374, 390.] This made AltaVista the first searchable, full-text database of a large part of the World Wide Web. The distinguishing feature of AltaVista was its minimalistic interface compared with other search engines of the time; a feature which was lost when it became a portal, but was regained when it refocused its efforts on its search function.

AltaVista's site was an immediate success. Traffic increased steadily from 300,000 hits on the first day to more than 80 million hits a day two years later. The ability to search the web, and AltaVista's service in particular, became the subject of numerous articles and even some books. [Citation
author = Eric J. Ray, Deborah S. Ray, and Richard Selzer
title = The AltaVista Search Revolution
publisher = Osborne/McGraw-Hill
edition = 2nd
year = 1998
] AltaVista itself became one of the top destinations on the web, and by 1997 would earn US$50 million in sponsorship revenue. [Citation
author = John Battelle
title = The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture
publisher = Portfolio
year = 2005
]

Business transactions

In 1996, AltaVista became the exclusive provider of search results for Yahoo!. In 1998, Digital was sold to Compaq and in 1999, Compaq relaunched AltaVista as a web portal, hoping to compete with Yahoo!. Under CEO Rod Schrock, AltaVista abandoned its streamlined search page and focused on features like shopping and free email. [Citation
last = Kopytoff
first = Verne
title = AltaVista Switches Web Portal Into High Gear
newspaper = San Francisco Chronicle
date = 2000-03-27
page = C-1
url = http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2000/03/27/BU90210.DTL&hw=altavista&sn=001&sc=1000
] In June 1998, Compaq paid AltaVista Technology Incorporated ("ATI") $3.3 million for the domain name "altavista.com"ndash Jack Marshall, cofounder of ATI, had registered the name in 1994.

In June 1999, Compaq sold a majority stake in AltaVista to CMGI, an internet investment company. [Citation
last = Afzali
first = Cyrus
title = CMGI Acquires 83 Percent of AltaVista for $2.3 Billion
newspaper = internet.com
date = 1999-06-29
url = http://www.internetnews.com/bus-news/article.php/147101
] CMGI filed for an initial public offering for AltaVista to take place in April 2000, but as the internet bubble collapsed, the IPO was cancelled. [Citation
last = Barnes
first = Cecily
title = AltaVista cancels proposed IPO
newspaper = news.com
date = 2001-01-10
url = http://www.news.com/2100-1023-250836.html
] Meanwhile, it became clear that AltaVista's portal strategy was unsuccessful, and the search service began losing market share, especially to Google. After a series of layoffs and several management changes, AltaVista gradually shed its portal features and refocused on search. By 2002, AltaVista had improved the quality and freshness of its results and redesigned its user interface. [Citation
last = Glasner
first = Joanna
title = AltaVista Makeover: A Better View
newspaper = Wired
date = 2002-11-13
url = http://www.wired.com/techbiz/media/news/2002/11/56335
]

In February 2003, AltaVista was bought by Overture Services, Inc. [Citation
last = Hansell
first = Saul
title = Overture Services to Buy AltaVista for $140 Million
newspaper = The New York Times
date = 2003-02-19
url = http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9403E5DF173DF93AA25751C0A9659C8B63&sec=&spon=&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink
] In July 2003, Overture itself was taken over by Yahoo!. [cite web|title=Yahoo to acquire Overture |url=http://docs.yahoo.com/docs/pr/release1102.html |date=2003-07-13]

Free services

AltaVista provides a free translation service, branded Babel Fish, which automatically translates text between several languages. In May 2008, this service was renamed Yahoo! Babel Fish.

ee also

*List of search engines

References

External links

* [http://www.altavista.com AltaVista]
* [http://babelfish.yahoo.com Babel Fish]
* [http://www.robotwisdom.com/sites/altavista.html Timeline]


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