One of the earliest search engines, Alta Vista, was given euthanasia this week. It had been terminally ill for so long that a tweeter said, "...it was like getting an invitation to a funeral of someone you thought died 10 years ago."
Alta Vista, by indexing around 20 million web pages was the forerunner to the billions of pages that Google now indexes. Aparantly, its text-analysis approach just couldn't cope with spamming, and was not match for Google "backrub approach".
Now, what is this "backrub approach"??
BackRub was a research project of the Digital Library Project in the Computer Science Department at Stanford University. It was started by Larry Page under his supervisor Terry Winograd. The codes were written in Java and Python and ran on several Sun Ultras and Intel Pentiums running Linux, with its primary databased fitting into a 28GB disk.
Essentially what Page's program did was to find out which web pages link to a given page, considering the number and nature of such backlinks to be valuable information about that page (with the role of citations in academic publishing in mind). From backlinks came the title BackRub which later evolved into the now famous Google search engine.
Khanna, Sundeep (2013): HOW ALTA VISTA LOST ITS MOJO AND GOOGLE FOUND ITS GROOVE, The Mint-WST, 5Jul13 -- http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/h5h8GJT1BuFgQY2qm0bxzI/How-AltaVista-lost-its-mojo-and-Google-found-its.html
ANATOMY OF A LARG-SCALE HYPER TEXTUAL SEARCH ENGINE -- http://infolab.stanford.edu/~backrub/google.html
BackRub -- http://web.archive.org/web/19971210065425/backrub.stanford.edu/backrub.html
BackRub FAQ -- http://web.archive.org/web/19971210065437/http://backrub.stanford.edu/FAQ.html