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How an 'Aha' Moment Became the World's First Search Engine

July 5, 2018

The development of the world’s first search engine was not spurred by a natural disaster or an epic journey. 

Just an “aha” moment for a graduate student.

While attending graduate school at Montreal’s McGill University in the late 1980s, Alan Emtage developed and launched Archie, the first Internet search engine. Derived from “archive,” Archie was a database of early websites and facilitated the development of multiple techniques used by modern search engines.

In a recent interview, the 2017 Internet Hall of Fame inductee said his creation’s origins were not particularly dramatic, but still required a little subterfuge in the early days to get around some academic red tape. 

“It sort of happened organically,” Emtage said of Archie’s development. “There wasn’t a goal where I had to struggle, ford rivers or climb mountains to get to it. The powers that be didn’t realize what we were doing, so we had to do it under sort of the cover of darkness and not let them realize we were utilizing all of these resources. They didn’t really understand what was going on.” 

Watch our full interview with Alan Emtage below: