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AltaVista is shutting down, and if you find that the least bit surprising, it's probably because you're shocked to discover it still exists. Well, it does, for a few more days anyway. On July 8, 2013, Yahoo will pull the plug on one of the web's earliest search engines, ending a run that spanned nearly two decades (AltaVista launched on December 15, 1995). How did it come to this? Google, of course.
Back in the early days of the web, AltaVista was the go-to search engine. It was fast, had a multi-threaded crawler, and a rather large index that trumped the competition. Less than a year after it launched, Yahoo tapped AltaVista to provide its search results.
Two things led to AltaVista's eventual demise. First, there was Google, a search engine everybody is familiar with today. And secondly, around the time Google came into existence, AltaVista began changing hands, starting with a sale to Compaq. It would eventually end up in Yahoo's portfolio as part of a larger transaction (Yahoo purchased Overture Services, Inc. in 2003, which owned AltaVista at the time).
Fast forward to today and hardly anyone uses AltaVista anymore. It's understandable that Yahoo would shut AltaVista down, though one could argue that the once popular search engine deserved better than to be lumped into a blog post announcing several product closures.