History of Search Engines

As we saw with Google’s Zero Moment of Truth research, consumers are using on average of 10.4 pieces of information before they make a purchasing decision.

So, where do they turn to help gather all this information?

Search engines – and overwhelmingly Google but more on that later.

History of Search Engines

Starting in 1946, research scientists began investigating ways to store and retrieve data. These early visionaries saw a world where people could literally be anywhere and using a connection over a network be able to retrieve data.

Fast forward to the 1980’s and Switzerland:
The physicists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) had a fundamental problem. They had massive amounts of data stored on computers but could not easily navigate and pull together all this data in an easy manner.

In 1980, Tim Berners-Lee, an independent contractor at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), Switzerland, built ENQUIRE, as a personal database of people and software models, but also as a way to play with hypertext; each new page of information in ENQUIRE had to be linked to an existing page.[1]

With the simple idea of “linking” pages together using some new software code protocols, Berners-Lee set about solving that problem. As with most cutting-edge ideas, he received little interest at the time. However, he always able to get approval to work on the project in 1989 and set about coming up with a name, eventually settling on World Wide Web. This became the underpinnings for the famous “www” that precludes many URL’s.

The big breakthrough though came in 1993 when the first Internet browser was invented called Mosaic with its roots at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. This went on to become known as Netscape and provided a graphical interface for navigating the web.

However, the fundamental problem that particle physicists at CERN wrestled with still existed, which was how do you sift through millions of web pages to find what you want?

This subtle problem is at the heart of how search engines work and one in which the major players are still trying to find ever elegant solutions.

Let’s take a peek at how search engines work next.