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AltaVista is an early web search engine launched in 1995.


AltaVista was a pioneer in web search engine technology, the first tool to index full-text content of web pages, and one of the very first web search engines to gain significant popularity in the emerging web search engine industry. It was launched on December 15, 1995, by Digital Equipment Corporation. AltaVista’s original URL was, and it was named after the scenic views in Palo Alto, California, where Digital was headquartered.

Google's search engine finally surpassed AltaVista in usage in 2001, and Yahoo! purchased AltaVista in 2003. Yahoo! discontinued the AltaVista search engine in July 2013. While the URL still exists, it redirects all users to the Yahoo! search engine.


Louis Monier, a computer scientist at Digital’s Western Research Lab, created the web crawler tool called Scooter. Scooter completed its first complete web crawl in August 1995, returning around 10 million pages to the primitive AltaVista index. Paul Flaherty is credited with coming up with the idea for AltaVista, while Michael Burrows is credited with writing the indexer.

AltaVista web page

The search engine was tested internally at Digital by its 10,000-plus employees and subsequentially released to the public on December 15, 1995. The site had over 300,000 visitors on the day it launched. Two years later, it had approximately 80 million visitors a day. In 1997, the first free online translator, Babel Fish, became part of AltaVista.

AltaVista was known for its simple interface and was the eleventh-most-visited site on the web in both 1998 and 2000. In 2000, seventeen percent of all web users visited the site every week, while Google only garnered seven percent. However, by the next year, Google overtook AltaVista in popularity.

In 2003, Overture bought the site for $140 million, with Yahoo! subsequently acquiring Overture later that year. In July 2013, Yahoo! discontinued the AltaVista search engine.


July 8, 2013
Yahoo! discontinues the AltaVista search engine. While the URL still exists, it simply redirects users to the Yahoo! search engine.
AltaVista was purchased by Yahoo!
December 15, 1995
AltaVista search engine was rolled out to the general public.


Further Resources


AltaVista Launches - This Day in Tech History

Marcel Brown


AltaVista Search Engine History Lesson For Internet Nerds -


So farewell then, AltaVista, we hardly knew ye ...

Sunila Lobo


July 3, 2013


Dave Mangot
March 17, 2021
Survival in the digital age requires an emphasis on execution and speed, enabled by a DevOps approach across the business
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