Digital Decay

Ernie Smith:

Today in Tedium: A quarter-century ago, one of the first major search engines came to life on the internet as an experiment of sorts—a public test of a server manufacturer’s primary product that anyone with a web connection could take a part in. The experiment, for a time, proved more successful than anyone could have ever imagined. But the problem was, it was an experiment at heart that was never intended to be a business—and that meant better suited companies would eventually topple this innovation. Eventually, it would ensure that this cutting-edge idea would become a part of the past. But nobody is going to encase the innovations of 1995 and 1996 in amber on the internet: Time does not stand still, and neither do web sites, no matter how important they are or once were. But it would sure be nice if we could. It’s with that in mind that I write about AltaVista, Digital Equipment Corporation, web domains, and how important history can turn into the basis of some random company’s crass marketing scheme. Today’s Tedium, in honor of AltaVista’s 25th anniversary this week, laments the loss of its original home to the gods of search engine optimization. Do not expect a backlink.