The history of search engines is actually modestly enlightening! It’s the seamless integration of technology we come to expect – engineers making software work the way we expected their products to work in the first place – that allows these significant advancements to go almost un-noticed… or at least uncelebrated.
From Finger, Archie, and Gopher to the relevancy-based market-driven results of today’s search engines, Aaron Wall’s Search Engine History provides a depth of knowledge into the how and why of what we find on the World Wide Web.
Larry Kim’s article, the History of Search Engines, provides a nice graphic… if your tech nostalgia hungers for imagery.
What becomes clear is that market-driven search engine software necessarily dictates the bulk of what can be rapidly found in the digital age – Exploiting that software represents a clear market advantage, controlling distribution of that software (MS, Google, Yahoo) controls the flow and availability of information, and the struggle to pre-dominate development is a long way from settled.