Yahoo Says Hasta La Vista to AltaVista
July 1, 2013

Yahoo Says Hasta La Vista to AltaVista

Peter Suciu for -- Your Universe Online

Yahoo! announced that it will say "hasta la vista" to the AltaVista search engine next week. Web portal Yahoo! had acquired AltaVista -- along with its technology, index and even the name -- when it bought ad firm Overture in 2003 for $140 million in cash and stock.

Launched in 1995, AltaVista had been the first search engine to index large amounts of web-based content and had been hugely popular for search but lost steam once Google rolled onto the scene a few years later.

In many ways AltaVista could be seen as the "last man standing" from the early search engines that included engines such as AskJeeves, Lycos and Hotbot.

Back when AltaVista was launched, most search engines were unable to properly log information as the web increasingly grew in size. At the time, AltaVista was able to index about 20 million websites, which far exceeded any rival. To accomplish this, the search engine utilized a web "crawler" technology that looked to find webpages and logged what was on these sites.

Created by US computer scientists Paul Flaherty and Louis Monier and British scientist Michael Burrows at the labs of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), AltaVista was one of the top web destinations until Google's arrival in 2001. But the downfall actually began earlier, the BBC noted, when DEC was bought by PC maker Compaq.

After this, the search giant was sold off in 1999 to a venture capital firm that looked to take it public. However, the anticipated IPO was abandoned following the dotcom crash in 2001, and the company was sold by Overture in 2002 and then acquired by once rival Yahoo!.

Yahoo!'s announcement that it was shuttering AltaVista was, in fact, rather low key and was announced via a blog post, "Keeping our Focus on What's Next," by Jay Rossiter, EVP of Platforms.

"Earlier this year, we announced an ongoing effort to sharpen our focus and deliver experiences that enhance your daily lives. As part of that, today we're shutting down a few products so we can continue to focus on creating beautiful products that are essential to you every day," Rossiter posted.

Among the dozen products specifically mentioned the post noted, "AltaVista (July 8, 2013) - Please visit Yahoo! Search for all of your searching needs."

What is also noteworthy is Yahoo! had originally planned to shut down AltaVista back at the end of 2010. At the time, The Wall Street Journal reported AltaVista was one of several sites the web portal planned to shut down, along with Delicious, MyBlogLog, Yahoo! Bookmarks and Yahoo! Buzz. Yahoo! had a change of heart and AltaVista continued to operate, albeit with Yahoo!'s own search technology.

It is unlikely Yahoo! will have another change of heart, and the shuttering of AltaVista comes as the search company looks to close down its Yahoo! Axis browser plug in, Citizen Sport, Foxy Tunes, Yahoo! RSS Alerts and Yahoo! Local API.

While many people might have forgotten about AltaVista, Danny Sullivan of SearchEngineLand offered a eulogy for what he described as "The Google of Its Time."

"Goodbye AltaVista," Sullivan posted. "You deserved better than this. Better than the one-sentence send-off Yahoo gave you today, when announcing your July 8 closure date. But then again, you always were the bright child neglected by your parents."