In today's web, search is almost taken for granted. In most parts of the world it's a three way street, with Google, Bing and Yahoo taking up a majority of the search pie (plus Baidu in China). Google is by far the most dominant player worldwide and has been leading the pack for years now.
However, there was a time when searching the web was measured in (several) seconds, and honestly, results were not that good. Yahoo was a startup but was already positioned as the incumbent in a novel web filled with dozens of smaller search engines trying to grab users' attention.
Altavista was backed by Digital and tried to differentiate itself for speed, WebCrawler provided full text search and did metacrawling, Lycos combined search with quality in-house content, Infoseek's algorithm was pretty accurate in some categories (before Google, of course), Hotbot, Ask Jeeves, Excite, MSN, and the list goes on.
The other day I was listening to a podcast and they were discusing how you never forget your first search engine. I couldn't make up my mind on what was the very first -- quite possibly Yahoo, though I've never been a fan -- and I think it was a combination of Infoseek and Altavista, until Google arrived and it was an instant game changer.
So, how about you? What was the first search engine you ever used?
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