With a show of hands, who here knew that the old-school search engine AltaVista still existed? Well, that looks like none of you - and I admit, I'm right there with you. Prior to the year 2000, our choice in Web services - heck, even software - was seriously limited. If you didn't use Internet Explorer, you probably used Netscape, and if you didn't use ICQ, you probably called MSN Messenger your home. But what about search? Choice back then was even more lackluster, with AltaVista being the go-to solution for nearly everyone.
Admittedly, it's been so long since I've last used AltaVista that I can't even remember how it excelled - but back then, with the lack of overall competition, you wouldn't think it would have been that hard for it to. For comparison, while AltaVista launched in 1996, Google came along in 1999, and it's worth noting that Yahoo! initially launched its search feature backed by AltaVista's technologies. It was a spearhead in many ways, but with multiple owners throughout its life, it had a difficult time keeping up with the competition. Like Netscape, it was eventually shoved aside by most people for other solutions.
Despite the site still being ranked 10,000 on website-tracker Alexa, Yahoo! has finally decided that it's time to kill the brand off entirely, in order to focus all of its efforts on its own projects. The official kill date is July 8th, and while many are likely to admit that they didn't even realize the service still existed, I can't help but feel a little saddened by it. However, when you compare how the Web is today compared to when AltaVista was still a major player, it's kind of exciting to envision what it will be like in the next 10 years. If anything, let's just hope it's better.
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