Before there was Google, there was AltaVista and, according to a leaked slide from Yahoo that surfaced this week, AltaVista is expected to fade from view soon.
The pioneering search service, begun in the early 1990s by researchers at the Digital Equipment, is included in a photo of Yahoo "sunset" products that apparently are under consideration for elimination by Yahoo. Other Yahoo "sunset" products include its popular Delicious bookmarking solution, news aggregator Yahoo! Buzz, and another search feature, AlltheWeb.
According to media reports, the "sunset" information was leaked by Eric Marcoullier, founder of MyBlogLog, yet another Yahoo property that also is listed in the "sunset" slide.
Yahoo, which recently announced another round of layoffs, didn't announce the closing of the sites, but the firm did state: "Part of our organizational streamlining involves cutting our investment in underperforming or off-strategy products to put better focus on our core strengths and fund new innovation in the next year and beyond. We continuously evaluate and prioritize our portfolio of products and services, and do plan to shut down some products in the coming months such as Yahoo! Buzz, our Traffic APIs, and others. We will communicate specific plans when appropriate."
The DEC researchers at the firm's Western Research Lab created AltaVista in an effort to find files on the rapidly-growing Internet. "We could have been Google," said Paul Cormier, who was quoted in a 2007 article in InformationWeek. "We should have been Google."
Full-page Internet searches in subsecond response times were established by the Digital Equipment team as well as other pathfinding search features. DEC tried to take the company public in the mid-1900s, but the company was dealing with business turmoil and management upheaval at the time. A later owner, CMGI, also tried and failed to launch an AltaVista IPO, leaving a wide open field for newcomer Google.